Malta Classical Music Academy a Resounding Success

From 25th to 29th June this year, the European Foundation for Support of Culture (EUFSC) held its Malta Classical Music Academy (MCMA) voice masterclasses at the Malta School of Music, part of Mikiel Anton Vassalli College in Hamrun. The course of masterclasses was led by the noted Bulgarian-Maltese soprano, Andriana Yordanova, and featured Russian pianist Sofia Namarnia accompanying. Though primarily attended by Maltese students, the course was also available to those based overseas, with one such participant travelling from Greece to attend. Following the masterclasses, an evening concert took place on Wednesday 30th June at the Malta Society of Arts, Valletta.

Malta Classical Music Academy a Resounding Success

This year, the Malta-based European Foundation for Support of Culture (EUFSC) held its second Malta Classical Music Academy (MCMA), featuring Andriana Yordanova as professor. The Academy welcomed thirteen students from Malta and Greece, with each receiving five lessons of forty minutes over the entirety of the course. In addition, a key factor of the MCMA was the utilizing of a masterclass format for tuition, with students given the option of attending other participants' lessons as an observer. For those less familiar with masterclasses in a musical context, these can be equally if not more valuable to the students actively participating by introducing the aspect of live performance.Observing (or 'passive') students also benefit immensely from the process, allowing them to see technical difficulties being solved and, as such,

“To be here it's a big opportunity for us students ... It's an important experience, especially thanks to the organization by the European Foundation for Support of Culture.” - Angelo Muscat, MCMA participant

Maria Blanco, Head of School at the MCMA's home this year, the Malta School of Music, describes her own experience in masterclasse while studying at the UK's Royal Northern College of Music: “The great thing about these kinds of classes is that it's just not just an opportunity to perform, but also to get better. I think there's something about receiving feedback in front of others that somehow makes it more memorable, stronger. To be able to pick up something from a new professor and be inspired by it can really stay with us, and I personally feel that some of my performances in masterclasses were amongst the best performances I ever did. "

Students a wide range of repertoire performed, with Russian pianist Sofia Narmania providing accompaniment for the MCMA's masterclasses and final performance. Course participant Anne Marie Bonello: “Working with Andriana is always great. It was a good boost to participate in these masterclasses after all the online classes and the time spent at home. I am really looking forward to the concert because I feel excited, and there will be many songs to be presented. This for me feels very good, it is definitely like going back to normality. Indeed, this notion of the masterclasses providing a return to activities considered 'normal' before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is particularly relevant to the MCMA,with the Malta voice masterclasses being the first such summer school run by the EUFSC to take place following over a year of restrictions on public events. Later this year, the EUFSC will hold their Middle East Classical Music Academy (MECMA) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, featuring masterclasses with distinguished professors specializing in violin and piano studies.

"Masterclasses like these make music live and organic." - Clare Ghigo, professional mezzo-soprano and MCMA participant

Malta Classical Music Academy a Resounding Success

Participants of the Malta Classical Music Academy with Andriana Yordanova

One factor in particular identified by various students of the Academy, is the importance of performing live to an audience, even a small one, in order to not only practice the repertoire in question, but also with the aim of practicing performance itself. In the words of BOV Joseph Calleja recognized Maltese soprano and Malta Airport Foundation representative, Nicola Said, who attended the MCMA as an active participant, “... It's a nice opportunity to perform some things that I haven't had a chance to in a while due to COVID-19 ... performing is like a muscle: you always feel nervous, but the less we do it the more nervous we feel every time. Of particular note was the MCMA's catering to students of all levels of experience, including both those at the start of their musical journey,

“It has been my pleasure to direct the Malta Classical Music Academy voice masterclasses, and I wish to congratulate all the wonderful students for their hard work and dedication throughout the process. I would also like to thank the EUFSC for what has been another very successful collaboration, and I look forward to working on more projects together in the future. " - Andriana Yordanova, Artistic Director of the MCMA voice masterclasses 2021

Originally hailing from Varna, Andriana Yordanova has made Malta her second home since 2001, and in 1995 made her debut at Bourgas Opera Theater playing Musetta in La Boheme (Puccini). This was followed by a succession of roles in her native Bulgaria and in Malta, including as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti, Sylva Varesku in Kalman Die Csardasfurstin, Lila in Karastoyanov operatta Balgari from old times ( Bulgarians from the Old Time ), Mimi in La Boheme , Alisia in Donizzetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor, Zemfira in Aleko (Rachmaninoff), Nedda in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci , Nedda inPagliacci (Leoncavallo), Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito (Mozart), Micaela in Carmen (Bizet) and Violetta Valeri in Verdi's La Traviata . She has also appeared in concerts around the world, including in Italy, Austria, Russian Federation, Germany, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Hungary and Egypt. She has also performed under the auspices of the HE The President of Malta and the Hon. Prime Minister of Malta, and in 2019 was nominated for the Crystal Lyre Award in Bulgaria. She is director of Opera Studio Atelier Lyrique and serves as a judge for various International Singing Competitions.

“This was a wonderful opportunity ... Andriana has always been very supportive of all students and gives them lots of encouragement. It's lovely. - Ingrid Groupetta, piano tutor at the Malta School of Music and mother to MCMA participant, Madeleine Grupetta

As various contributors have alluded to, the aspect of live performance is an especially important one, providing an opportunity to push and test technique, experiment with new musical ideas and, crucially, to keep oneself well acquainted with the psychological pressures of performing. The MCMA's concert on Wednesday 30th June, aside from its experiential value in relation to the above, additionally provided a welcome opportunity for family and friends of the participants to listen to the results of their hard work throughout the days of masterclasses, as well as being a concert in its own right - a commodity sadly in short supply in most parts of the world for over a year. As Stefania Farrugia, an MCMA participant noted, “Since COVID-19 was very restrictive, we finally had something to look forward to,which was the concert after the masterclasses. It's been a long time and I've been really looking forward to performing. The appreciation felt in the room for the concert at Valletta's exquisite Malta Society of Arts was palpable, with one audience member remarking,“ I loved it. It was really good to see different people of different levels, they all gave it their utmost and it was a very enjoyable concert ”(Carl Borg, brother of course participant, Mariette Borg).

“You wouldn't think that much could change in just five lessons, but the concert showed that everyone got something special from these masterclasses, and I think the idea of ​​the masterclasses works. Due to the current situation it may have been a while since they've performed, but everyone I think learned a lot, and perhaps even more than they've learned in the last scholastic year. Firstly, because they were so relaxed and so open to new knowledge, and the concert showed that everyone did their utmost to be the best. We had a great time, we enjoyed the masterclasses, it was a wonderful atmosphere, and it felt more like friends, like family. We were trying to inspire them rather than just dictating to them what they had to learn.I'm sure that all of them will be more and more inspired to learn more, and to perform more. - Sofia Narmania, MCMA accompanist

Malta Classical Music Academy a Resounding Success

Participants of the Malta Classical Music Academy with Andriana Yordanova

The MCMA voice masterclasses were coordinated by the European Foundation for Support of Culture, a non-profit organization which works to support and promote the proliferation of cultural events, in particular those relating to classical music, across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Directed by its president, the cultural entrepreneur and philanthropist Konstantin Ishkhhanov, each year the foundation organizations a series of public performances, masterclasses, workshops, festivals and competitions in its mission to elevate the prominence and reach of classical music around the world. 

“We are very grateful to the EUFSC for having organized this event. We have these very professional teachers and I think the team behind this project was absolutely amazing. - Stefania Grech, MCMA participant

Other notable projects of the foundation include the InClassica International Music Festival (this year celebrating its ten-years anniversary), Classic Piano International Competition, Middle East Classical Music Academy (MECMA), Lerici Music Festival, Music-20 Festival (Armenia), Malta International Music Festival (MIMF) and 'Wandering Music Stars' Festival (Israel), as well as numerous other events such as orchestral tours, the premiere of contemporary composer Alexey Shor's Crystal Palace ballet in partnership with the Bolshoi Theater, and special performances by world -famous luminaries including Grigory Sokolov, Martha Argerich, Maxim Vengerov, Evgeny Kissin, Andrey Baranov, Ray Chen, Joseph Calleja, Stella Chen, Danielle de Niese and Daniel Lozakovich, amongst many others.

“On behalf of everyone at the EUFSC I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Andriana Yordanova and Sofia Narmania on a fantastic series of masterclasses, and wish our students the very best as they continue on their exciting musical journey. Well done to all! " - Konstantin Ishkhanov, president of the European Foundation for Support of Culture

Despite the challenges facing live and group events at this time, the Malta Classical Music Academy voice masterclasses proved to be a rich and rewarding musical experience, and one especially valuable in these troubled times. In the words of course participant Makis Eftimios: “The event has been organized in a very good way, especially taking into account the period we are living in, due to COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers took very good care of me and made everything very accessible. Everything was convenient and I did not have to stress about anything. I will absolutely repeat this experience again in the future. "

Next year the EUFSC will launch their 2022 edition of the MCMA, this time offering classes in the schools of piano and violin in addition to voice. For more information and to register, visit the official website, or contact the European Foundation for Support of Culture.




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