I recently returned from Netarts on the Oregon Coast for Piano Arts in Netarts, Where Music Meets the Sea, a workshop orchestrated by Dr. Jill Timmons, of Arts Mentor.
I joined about forty other pianists from Oregon, Washington, and California for a weekend of continuing education, beautiful music, friendship, renewal, and stunning scenery.
All events took place in the fire hall of Netarts, a lovely community style meeting space. We enjoyed a concert size Bösendorfer and a concert size Yamaha for the concerts and classes, courtesy of Classic Pianos of Portland.
The weekend kicked off with a Friday evening viola/piano concert in the fire hall featuring Jill Timmons and Laura Klugherz . This fabulous duo played works from the likes of Bréval, Grignon, Ponce, Schubert, Bernstein, and Gershwin, to name a few. Community members and workshops participants filled the concert space.
The following day began gently with body work, specifically, Feldenkrais, led by Laura Klugherz. We then jumped into a full schedule of master classes. The classes highlighted nine different performers including soloists, a four hand duo (at one piano) and two duos playing two pianos.
For those scratching their head about the meaning of a master class, here’s a short explanation. A master class includes a small group of performers, in our case, all professional musicians and a master teacher. Each performer plays a prepared work, and then, the master teacher digs into work and the performance. She addresses body position, articulations, tempo, pedaling, dynamics, expression, phrasing, music history, performance anxiety, and everything in between! It’s like a lesson, but the lesson unfolds in front of forty people.
As a master class performer, I can tell you, the experience is exhilarating, humbling, educational, scary, and a joyful, all at the same time. For our series of master classes, the repertoire ranged from the Baroque period to a work from the late 20th Century. Each performer and duo managed to add unique pieces and pianistic challenges to the mix. The repertoire included works from Hilary Tann, Albénez, Chopin, Charles Wakefield Cadman (my contribution), Debussy, and Lutoslawaski.
The following day started with body work, this time, a yoga class led again by Laura. The morning workshop addressed practicing effectively, the afternoon presentation taught us about the inner workings of the piano. We wrapped up the weekend with a community concert presented by the master class performers.
Of course, in between sessions, we socialized, shared some fantastic meals, visited some local watering holes, and walked around the charming town of Netarts.
Upon reflecting on the weekend and my dedication to continuing education until my very last day on this beautiful earth, I think of the following quote by Seymour Bernstein. “Music speaks concordantly to a troubled world, dispelling loneliness and discontent, it’s voice discovering in it those deep recesses of thought and feeling where truth implants itself. Music offers no quarter for compromise, no excuses, no subterfuge, no shoddy workmanship.”
Dr. Jill Timmons, director of the festival, my mentor and friend, teaches us to practice with full availability of self and also teaches us to give up the idea of perfection in performing. Performing, after all, is a temporal experience. She reminds us, “Perfection only exists in our imagination. We are perfectly imperfect!”