When I came to Dartington three years ago I knew I was going to teach and perform, but I had no idea how it was all going to work. The next thing I knew, I was immersed into a vibrant environment full of people of all ages, from all walks of life, having in common one thing – a strong passion for music.
From the beginning it was an absolutely galvanizing experience. These so-called ‘amateurs’ are genuinely inspirational. They bring a huge variety of repertoire, from Bach to Schönberg (and every composer in between!), making every teaching session different. In general I prefer blending the musical and technical aspects in my teaching, I am a strong believer that they cannot exist separately, but I had been warned that ‘amateurs’ do not enjoy technical work. I decided to go against this advice and teach as usual. I remember with great satisfaction how one participant brought a Beethoven Sonata at the beginning of the week, and then played it again for the class at the end of the week. The progress was indisputable, and he told me ‘I tried your suggestion for pedaling and touch, and it really works’ – teaching does not get better than this!
People that come to Dartington can expect to be absorbed into music literally from breakfast until bedtime.
It is very much a two-way street – everybody shares their knowledge and experience, musical and of other sorts, and we all learn something from each other. The result is a stimulating adventure for everybody. I am very excited about the evening concerts. The Great Hall in the power of the night can have a very eerie aura. I remember my first summer at Dartington, when I played one of Prokofiev’s War Sonatas. The atmosphere was both terrifying and thrilling!