It was a timely coincidence that, a few days only after graduating from the conducting course at the Royal Academy of Music in London, I received an email from the department describing the various mastercourses organised by Symphony Services International and specifying that these were open, for the first time, to international students like myself. I was immediately attracted by the summer mastercourse with the TSO in particular, for it combined an established ensemble, a distinguished conducting mentor (Christopher Seaman), and – a key factor for me – a duration of two weeks, which meant I would have time to settle into my new surroundings, take in as much as possible… and recover from the jet lag!
I came to realise very quickly that the course was more than just an accumulation of podium time. It was in fact a tightly-knitted network of tasks and activities which all pertain to the many-faceted profession of conducting: ear-training, score analysis, physiotherapy, encounters with people working in orchestral administration and the media – not to mention the actual conducting sessions, which remain the core of the program. In short, this two-week course condensed all the aspects one could expect of a comprehensive postgraduate conducting curriculum such as the one I attended at the Royal Academy – with the added benefit of putting a professional orchestra at our disposal.
Last but not least, a course such as this one gave me a golden opportunity to make fruitful encounters with talented conductors and instrumentalists from the Australian musical scene, to learn from them and, hopefully, give a little something in return. I strongly recommend it!