One important figure in my life and carrier as a conductor is Jorma Panula, the Finnish conductor, composer and educator. I am very glad for his kind support, great advices and friendly approach towards me, which helped me a lot during the different stages of my development. I would had been very happy to invite him to Budapest (where he conducted exactly 50 years ago first time), to give a conducting masterclass. Therefore, when I was conducting the MAV Symphony Orchestra in February, I asked the management, whether they would be interested in such project. The orchestra said yes, and there my work as organizer began. That is how MasterclassBudapest.com has started.
In short time, we had almost fifty applications from all over the world. The program included works of Sibelius, Brahms, Bartók, Glinka and Mozart. Based on the sent videos and biographies, we have selected 9 students, and were looking forward to start on 31st of August. Then, the week before, I have received the news: Maestro Panula suffered a serious food poisoning in Bulgaria, and had to rush to the hospital. Shortly after he had been operated in Finland, which prevented him from flying for 4 weeks…
To my greatest luck and delight, my former professor at NMO, Ed Spanjaard was able to step in on very short notice. The students, coming from Canada, StPetersburg, Germany, England and Japan did not have to cancel their tickets…So the masterclass took off, as planned, at the end of August, and we had six very intense but wonderful days with the MAV Orchestra.
As his former pupil, Maestro Spanjaard involved me in the teaching as well. The rehearsals with the orchestra in the morning were recorded on video, and we watched these recordings together with the participants during the afternoon sessions to analyse and give feedback to them. Also, Maestro Spanjaard talked about conducting and rehearsal technique, particular technical or musical difficulties in the pieces and gave personal advices to each of the students.
While observing the students working with the orchestra, watching and analysing the videos and following their (sometimes quite remarkable) development during the week – I myself learned a lot. It is always amazing, how differently the same orchestra, the same players can sound, even when playing the same pieces, under the baton of different conductors. Somehow, ones personality is clearly visible from the way he or she conducts. And that is truly amazing.
I must mention, that the MAV Orchestra was an excellent partner during the whole masterclass. They followed with the utmost attention every single movement of each candidate – and this is something, what they really needed. This is really golden for a young, and less experienced conductor, and a clear joy for the more mature ones.