The view from the Music School - acres of slums and Sao Paulo in the background
To get to the Instituto we drove through rows and rows of higgledy-piggledy shacks, built one on top the other, before arriving at the Instituto’s modern building. We were welcomed by the Choir who performed to us and gave us an incredibly warm reception. Straight away we were put at ease by these wonderful smiling children. Through their performance I could feel their innate sense of rhythm and musicality as it seemed to just flow out of them.
This was my first ever time giving a masterclass and I loved it! Supported by a wonderful translator who was one of the string tutors, I spent half an hour each with 5 violin students – aged between 16 and 29. They all presented heavy-weight concertos to me, including Lalo Symphonie Espagnole. The standard of the students was incredibly high and they were technically advanced. Only being able to spend 30 minutes with each student, we spent most of the time on performance help – for example, how to project their sound to the back of the hall, or different ways to use the bow to get a variety of colours in their sound.
I found the students extremely receptive and eager to learn and develop and it was a joy to work with them. We were also really pleased to see some of the students and their teacher attend our concert later that night.
I was humbled by my experience of the Instituto, which is doing incredible work in extremely challenging circumstances. They are currently trying to raise the money to build a concert hall next to their music school – and we wish them all the very best with their venture.
Violin, Britten Sinfonia