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  News 2006 

Second season for MfB doubles the number of participants

Music@ Felcino Bianco held its second season of strings and chamber music from 16th - 29th July 2006. Again, entitled MasterClass Music Citerna in recognition of the tremendous and valued help and support that we get from the Comune in Citerna, the course is becoming a mini-festival which attracts full houses to the concerts given during the course, both by members of The Bekova Trio and by the participants, of which more later

One of the participants, Adam Whone from London, is a distinguished stringed instrument dealer and restorer as well as a violinist. On impulse and with his enthusiastic support we suggested to the two Comune of Citerna and Gubbio (a magnificent ducal city in Umbria which also contains a school of lutherie) that since Adam would be present at the course he might also give a seminar for luthiers and would-be luthiers on violin restoration. In addition one of our concerts would be held in Gubbio. This offer was eagerly accepted by the two commune and with their help the School was able to hold the seminar which was well attended, during the second week of the course. Naturally all the course also attended the concert given in Gubbio which was held in the marvellously restored eighteenth-century theatre. An article is being prepared by Adam for publication, on his seminar and time spent in Citerna with his family. Above left, you can see him and Daniel rehearsing with Eleonora and Alfia.  
  Musicians attending the course in 2006 began arriving even well before the advertised dates for MasterClass Music Citerna, as well as staying on after it finished, so as to benefit from personal tuition from Elvira for as long as possible. We are able to accommodate small numbers of people wishing to spend extra time with us for additional lessons and for 2007 we are contemplating running a second course for violin players immediately after MasterClass Music Citerna in association with the Comune in Monterchi, already known to flute-players for supporting Ransom Wilson's masterclasses. Musicians arrived from the USA, UK, South Africa, Cyprus and Italy, in time for a splendid opening concert by The Bekova Trio. The musical theme for this year was obvious given important anniversaries for Mozart and Shostakovich and for the opening concert the Trio gave a splendid performance of Mozart's Trio in D Major KV 458 together with Beethoven's second trio from Opus no. 1 and the awe-inspiring Tchaikovsky Trio in A minor Op. 50 written "in memory of the great artist", on the death of his friend Nicolai Rubinstein. This musical feast was followed by a gastronomic one graciously provided by the Comune to whom our thanks.  
  As usual day one began with auditioning the participants to assess capabilities, to agree on pieces for study and to schedule individual lessons. Meanwhile Elvira and her sisters started planning the ensemble work that would be developed during the next two weeks, culminating in the final concert to be performed by the students with or without the teachers. Apart from violin and cello players there were two pianists who came to take advantage of working with Eleonora Bekova. One a lady of mature years who had travelled all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico and the other a remarkable grade eight pianist of only ten years of age, of Russian maternal parentage and living in the UK. He was to play a major part in providing piano accompaniment, trio-playing and personal performance as well as page-turning. Everyone enjoyed him.  
  al fresco discussions during a masterclass; right, ensemble rehearsing inside Felcino Bianco  
  As work progressed through the first week members of the Trio also prepared fo two more concerts. The first entitled Omaggio a Mozart featured Mozart's Duo for violin and cello KV 423, stunningly played by Elvira and Alfia Bekova, together with the prodigious E flat major Trio by Schubert written at the height of his powers in 1827 and performed wonderfully in this delightful little eighteenth-century theatre in Gubbio by the Sisters. The course participants among the audience were riveted by this majestic piece. Debussy' beautiful sonata for violin and piano, Ravel's Tzigane and two arrangements by the Bekova Sisters of Prokofiev and Stravinsky completed a memorable evening in this lovely little Umbrian town with its splendid ducal palace.  
  The third concert was a violin recital in which Elvira (seen left) was accompanied by her sister Eleonora, honouring both Mozart and Shostakovich. The stunning Mozart sonata for violin and piano in B flat major KV 378 was followed by Ziganov's remarkable arrangements of Shostakovich' 10 preludes. The audience was fascinated to hear that Ziganov was teaching in Moscow when Eleonora was herself a student at the Conservatoire. The interval was followed by the enchanting Sonata for violin by Franck and by Midsummer Moon by Rebecca Clarke, previously recorded en premiere by Elvira herself. The Tchaikovsky Valse - Scherzo, thrillingly played by Elvira ended the concert. These concerts were an object lesson in how to perform some of the very best strings and ensemble work in the world and it was evident just how much the students appreciated being able to hear and understand such superb music.  
  Into the second week individual lessons had continued but now with the pressure coming on to perform ensemble and the choosing of a programme that would not only entertain the audience at the final concert but give the participants the opportunity to show not only how they had benefited from their intensive tuition but also to enjoy performing themselves - and did they do that! The programme of Mozart (Divertimento for Piano Trio KV254), Prokofiev's Russian Dance from the ballet The Stone Flower, Vivaldi's Sonata in E minor for cello and piano and Leclair's Sonata for two violins completed a ravishing first half. No les entertaining was a second half including the Allegro from Haydn's trio in D minor, Shostakovich' Preludium and Fugue in B flat major and Lizst' In Memoriam Pitofis played solo by Daniel, our youngest participant (seen here working with Elvira), which was followed by Mozart's Allegro from the G minor Quartet KV 478. We were privileged to have the assistance of Peter Hopkins' viola playing during the course and this concert. Peter's two sons learning violin and cello repectively enjoyed the progress that they made during their attendance on the course.  
  The Concert ended with a fascinating variation for strings and piano (seen below left). James Hesford, who had joined us for the second week, a notable jazz cello player along with Alfia Bekova, and composer, had taken the group in hand for something they never really expected to be doing namely performing a jazz piece - Average White Band's piece (arr. James Hesford) "Pick up the Pieces". There was really nothing more to say after that! One thing, a comment made by an experienced cellist participant - He had never seen a group of musicians from such disparate origins bond together so well for what was a fascinating journey into music. This was also evident from the fact that the entire course voted itself an excellent Tuscan dinner at a nearby restaurant (below right).  
  In closing we should mention the masterclasses held during the course. Last year we had a combined strings masterclass on the topics of Bach's music with Elvira and Alfia demonstrating. This year we split the violinists from the cellists but to discuss the same topic. Elvira and Alfia led their students in the difficult topic of "Aspects of strings-playing technique", while Adam Whone, luthier, spoke spoke on the essential topic of "Caring for one's Instrument". It is part of our philosophy at MfB that we tackle questions that are in the back of musicians' minds but which they often have little opportunity to discuss freely and we will continue to do this.  

Programme for 2007
The 2007 season is being constructed as we write and we can say that we propose two courses for this year. Thanks to our friends in the Comune at Citerna, MasterClass Music Citerna will take place from 15th - 28th July with residence in the Sobaria Hotel in Citerna and we are planning a second course in Monterchi, very nearby, for violinists. Piano accompaniment will be available for this second course. At the moment dates are not final but are expected to be during the first two weeks of August. As last year participants will be able arrive before the 15th July and can stay on beyond even the second course. You just have to think about how long you want to be with us and we will find ways to make it happen. Terms and conditions will be published on the website and in brochures as soon as our plans are final. Meantime please get in touch with us at MfB on +39-0575-70778 or

We look forward to hearing from you.


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