Welcome to the New Zealand International Young Artist Festival of 2020! This event, to be held in both Auckland and Wellington, is aimed at giving young pianists and violinists some practical training and guidance in a number of areas relating to ensemble playing, as well as a chance to work with professionals from both New Zealand and abroad. Our teachers include the brilliant Associate Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Donald Armstrong, the newly appointed second violinist of the New Zealand String Quartet, Monique Lapins, who joins us from Australia, and the amazing pianist Michael Endres, recently returned to New Zealand from a coveted teaching position in Europe.
Too often for young musicians the balance of working with others and working by themselves is hard to find. We spend so long in the practice room, alone, by necessity, every day, but by that effort alone we are not able to develop those key skills in life that make great musicians as well as great people - the skills of leadership, co-operation, empathy and adaptation to things happening in real time, and the joy of shaping a wonderful performance as a group. These opportunities are extremely important for young musicians nurturing their love of the art, which enriches the rest of their lives. I recently examined a Masters thesis on this topic about how to help beginning young pianists pedagogically, and the main finding of the thesis was that some form of chamber activity, playing with others, was the most effective teaching tool overall, inspiring the players to improve when they go off and practice on their own.
My own life-long dedication to music began with listening in my youngest years, to recordings as well as concerts when I was older, and this interest led me to try an instrument. But my love of performing and sharing music was only really set in place by my early experiences of playing in ensembles; some of the great repertoire that we have, learning and rehearsing it, and eventually performing it as well. There is no greater gift we can instil in our young developing musicians than that sense of accomplishment and connection to the music and to other players around them.
In our Festival, there will also be chances for them to sample and perform in different ensemble permutations that they wouldn't often get, for instance an ensemble of violins, and other chamber groups where they will meet musicians their own age that they may not know before, as well as a festival orchestra, where the Young Artists will get a chance to play a solo work with orchestra on stage.