On 5 July, the 45th International Winter Festival got underway in the mountain town of Campos do Jordão, Brazil. For three weeks at various venues around the city, a hive of intense musical activity takes place, with an extensive program of concerts, masterclasses, workshops and lectures. This year 145 Fellows got the opportunity to work alongside renowned professionals, broken up into 16 classes of instrumental, composition and conducting classes and masterclasses taught by around 40 teachers, many the best in the country and the world.
Speaking about returning to the Festival after missing last year due to a broken hand, Marin said:
“I’m thrilled to be back at OSESP’s ‘winter’ Festival here in the mountains, at 2 hours drive from São Paulo. This is a very special festival devoted to training and inspiring the next generation of Brazilian musicians.”
On Saturday 5th July, Marin Alsop, OSESP, the OSESP choir and soloists opened the Festival with a highly-charged and invigorating performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Sala São Paulo. Marin talks about why this piece was so fitting for the opening of the Festival:
“Campos do Jordão Festival has partnerships with several international conservatories who have sent a handful of select students to join the young Brazilians, creating a unique atmosphere of exchange and connection. This embrace is symbolic of Brazil, a country of enormous warmth and acceptance. It was only fitting to open the Festival last Saturday with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – the ultimate celebration of our human connection! OSESP and the OSESP choir did a phenomenal job, joined by one of the best quartets ever!”
During the first week of the Festival, Marin spent each day rehearsing with the fellows split up into string, woodwind brass and percussion groups, ahead of two concerts; one on Friday 11th July at the Auditorium Cláudio Santoro in Campos and another on Sunday 13th July outdoors in the Capivari Square. The works performed were Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Strauss Serenade for Wind Instruments, Isaac Albéniz’s Suite Española and fanfares by Aaron Copland. At Sunday’s outdoor concert Marin was joined by former BSO Assistant Alexandra Arrieche who conducted the students in the Strauss.
As well as a busy schedule of rehearsing the orchestras and chamber groups, Marin headed up the program for young conductors. She spent time at the castle coaching six talented conducting students, including four from Brazil, one from Juilliard and one from London’s Royal Academy of Music, who worked towards conducting their own concert at the end of the second week. Talking of their progress at the start of the second week, Marin said: “I’m especially enjoying teaching the conducting students this summer. They are very prepared and eager to try implementing things. They’ve worked hard and made huge strides. I’m very proud of them all.”
The second week also saw Marin work with the Festival Orchestra again on new works for concerts at the end of the week at the Auditorium Cláudio Santoro in Campos on Saturday 19th July. The repertoire for the second week included Shostakovich Symphony No.5, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini performed with pianist Boris Giltburg and a piece called Masquerade by Anna Clyne. Marin was especially thrilled with the progress of the young fellows, commenting: “The kids have done a great job digesting this piece and the concerts should be amazing!”. The piece by Anna Clyne was first conducted by Marin when she conducted the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 2013 and, clearly impressed, Marin wanted to bring the piece to Campos this year. Anna was at the Festival this year involved with young composers and joined Marin at the rehearsals and concerts. Marin commented: “Anna Clyne has joined us this week and is a burst of joy and energy. Masquerade sounds thrilling. The orchestration and rhythmic energy are palpable. What a great concert opener!”
On Sunday 20th July Marin conducted the Festival Orchestra for her final concert of Campos back in Sala São Paulo, before returning to the US to begin preparations for her next Festival, the Cabrillo festival of Contemporary Music. Reflecting on her time at Campos, Marin said: “The concert at Sala São Paulo was fantastic. The kids played their hearts out and I felt that we could take some wonderful musical chances together. It was a great two weeks with them!”