The quadrennial Primrose International Viola Competition and the American Viola Society Festival ran concurrently in Los Angeles from Tuesday 6/12/18 to Sunday 6/17/18,
The objectives of this project were:
To take five of my SMTD students to observe the live rounds of The Primrose International Viola Competition (PIVC) in Los Angeles, CA.
To have those five students also participate in the American Viola Society Festival workshops, lectures, recitals, Master Classes, and volunteer backstage at the Primrose Competition as part of "service back" to the AVS.
To have the life-changing experience of being witness to the best young viola talent around the world as a part of The Primrose Competition.
The project was part of a "viola-intensive" week that I wanted to create for some of my students. I chose the five I took to LA because they had each submitted preliminary audition recordings to The Primrose. Although my five didn't advance to the quarterfinals this year, I knew that it would be an inspiring trip to Los Angeles for them to experience the young top viola players in the world in concert.
I was one of 9 international judges for PIVC back in 2014, so I had experienced the inspirational young violists in concert then. I knew that witnessing this year's competition with a handful of my SMTD students would not only be inspirational for them, but would be a great motivator for their future endeavors.
The breadth of repertoire performed during the 5 days of PIVC performances inspired me to expand my teaching repertoire. The musical expression and technical achievement of the 24 PIVC quarterfinalists was inspiring. My five students have come back to SMTD with renewed interest in performing, a real palpable excitement about the viola, and having made new friends while in Los Angeles. For me, it was a networking experience for SMTD recruiting and a chance to advance my students with an experience they cannot get from the classroom.
The project isn't literally continuing beyond the grant period. However, the impact and inspiration we all received from both PIVC and participation in the workshops, lectures, and recitals for the American Viola Society clearly provides both information and inspiration for our work together in lessons, weekly Viola Studio/Performance Class, and future performance endeavors. Additionally, each student used this five day opportunity to network with their peers and with world-renown viola teachers who were also at the Competition and Festival.
I have already verbally shared my experience of taking five SMTD violists to Los Angeles for PIVC and AVS Festival with many of my String Department colleagues. The Colburn School in LA hosted the dual-event and my String Department colleagues wanted to know the nuts and bolts of how the festival was run by Colburn.
Additionally, while in Los Angeles, my five students performed a "Coade Studio Viola Recital: Live from the University of Michigan" as an outreach and exposure concert at Belmont Village Westwood. Many of my viola peers visiting LA for PIVC and AVS Festival attended our recital. This was a great networking event for my students, a great chance for me to share my SMTD students with my peer group, and a chance to do some community outreach in Los Angeles.
Advice to your Colleagues:
I this this was an invaluable experience for my students to witness the top viola competition in the world from, literally, a front row seat. It was a chance for our SMTD students to interact with their peer group, a chance to sit in viola performances/lectures/workshops/Master Classes all day long for five days. I had always wanted to lead a "viola retreat", and this was my opportunity. I am grateful to CRLT's Instructional Development Fund $500 grant to help pay the expenses of this trip. The other funding was literally paid out of my own pocket (airfare for each student, mini van for transportation, many meals, registration to the two events, and Collaborative Pianist's fee for our recital). I found a donor to donate a house to us in LA so that expense was covered. I would do this again, but would likely have the students participate a little financially to the trip as this ended up being a very large expense for me. I will also work on my grant-writing skills so that I could apply for funding to help finance a trip like this. In the end, the experiences beyond the competition and the festival ended up being the shared camaraderie with my five students in the house we stayed in, the camaraderie and pride around playing our community outreach recital, the joy of networking with their viola peers who were also "observers" during this event, and the bird's eye view of a top-notch competition and how it works. It was a multi-dimensional experience for my SMTD violists which they won't forget. It was an honor to share this experience with some of my students.