From March 7 to 12, as part of the Creative Associates Program, aimed at exploring novel and creative languages starring string instruments, an exclusive course on improvisation for string instruments was held with acclaimed violinist Viktoria Mullova and multifaceted cellist and composer Matthew Barley.
The celebrated musicians, leading an ensemble of eight talented students selected for the course, aimed to answer the question “What does it mean to be a complete musician in the 21st century?” by delving into aspects related to interpretation, improvisation and communication with the audience and between musicians through individual and group lessons. The young instrumentalists had the opportunity to study Bach’s solo violin repertoire with Viktoria Mullova, drawing on her considerable experience in Baroque style and technique. With Matthew Barley, the group learned to improvise as an ensemble and work on solos, riffs and free improvisation.
“It is a great honor to play together with Viktoria Mullova, who performs Bach in such a spontaneous, imaginative and touching way. And the lessons with Matthew Barley are inspiring and able to bring out our creativity. Adding improvisation to the way we are used to performing this repertoire allows us to express ourselves,” says Annika Starc, a young German violinist participating in the course.
The course culminated in a guided tour of the Violin Museum in Cremona, followed by an extraordinary lecture in the Giovanni Arvedi Auditorium dedicated to Béla Bartók’s duets for two violins. For the first time as part of their educational activities, Stauffer students had the opportunity to try out the precious historical instruments owned by the Foundation – the Guarneri del Gesù “Stauffer” 1734 violin and the Stradivari “Ex Cristiani – Stauffer” 1700 cello, which are kept at the Cremona Museum.
At the conclusion of the course, the students were the protagonists of an unforgettable concert together with Viktoria Mullova and Matthew Barley, in the elegant setting of the Stradivari Hall of Palazzo Stauffer – home of the Stauffer Academy. The event, which was streamed live, is now available on the Stauffer Center for Strings YouTube channel.