Monday, July 27, 2009

New Yorkers in Sombor

By Ljiljana Samardzic

Sombor, July 10 (Serbia Today) - A third year in a row, a New York - based collective of composers, The South Oxford Six, is organizing one-week seminar Summer in Sombor 2009. This musical education oriented seminar lasts from July 5th till July 12th. The main aim of these workshops is to decentralize culture, but also introducing students with contemporary music through practical work and lectures. This year workshops are led by Alexandra Vrebalov and Daniel Sonenberg, both members of The South Oxford Six.
According to Alexandra Vrebalov, the reason why this kind of international seminar is organized here is that Ms Vrebalov originates from Serbia. Besides, during her education, she had the opportunity to be part of different summer camps, but never in Serbia. The fact that composers and performers are spending one week together, discussing music, playing and studying music, makes this seminar unique.
Some changes are being made in this year’s seminar. “In the first two years we had a string quartet as guests and all lecturers were from The South Oxford Six. This year we have a string quintet and two lecturers from Serbia”, said Ms Vrebalov for Serbia Today. Zoran Eric, professor of composition at the School of Music of Belgrade’s University and Ivana Stefanovic, established Serbian composer, will spend two days with students.
“Participants in these workshops are students of composition, except one boy, who’s playing piano, but alongside he’s composing. He is also the youngest member, he’s 17 and the oldest are in the middle thirties”, said Ms Vrebalov. This generation gap is useful because it is easy to create an “atmosphere where everyone can learn something from each other and spread personal views.”
Regarding a daily workshop structure, it consists of ensemble rehearsals, individual classes where each student will have at least one consultation with each of instructors, and group sessions. On one of the sessions, Daniel Sonenberg presented his own works and later on, he discussed it with students. These works are interesting because contemporary music includes innovative approach to the matter.
The accent is on contemporary music. It is “isolated and specific area, which has to exist because it represents the highest thing in human spirit, solely nude abstract creativity”, said Ms Vrebalov. “Its existence is necessary because it shows that society has a strong enough grounding to enable something like this to find its own place.”
This seminar represents something that is very close to ideal music education, only in small edition. Studies in United States have more open and creative approach unlike studies in Serbia. But, Serbian students gain great theoretical base. Ms Vrebalov finds that something in the middle of those two approaches would be ideal for students.
Concert of contemporary music will be held at the very end of this course, on Sunday, July 13th. By playing, students will display just the small part of all things they have learned in one week.

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