Violanet in Salzburg

2 april 2020

The Violanet session in Salzburg was intense and efficacious, with the incrementation of scientific contributions and the involvement of a larger stage, including the vast audience of professors and students of the Mozarteum, the citizens of Salzburg and international guests, with the arrival of professors, students and Viola da gamba lovers from many parts of Europe.

The first day’s work, 21 November, was held in Schloß Frohnburg, seat of the Institute for Early Music of the Mozarteum. After Vittorio Ghielmi’s welcome and the presentation of new participants from the Conservatoire Nazional Supérieur Musique et Danse of Lyon, the organizational activities and rehearsals for the student concert for the European Youth Viol Consort (EYVC) had begun. The professors met to work on elaborating the project’s guidelines and then began with the masterclasses.

On 22 November, the participants transferred to the main location of the Mozarteum, where some interesting conferences were held: Johannes Boer (Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag) spoke about “The Opera by Johan Schenck: traces of instrumental parts in his Scherzi Musicali?”; Bettina Hoffmann (Scuola di Musica di Fiesole) covered the subject “Strings, frets & temperaments: compatibility problems”, and finally Lucy Robinson (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff) illustrated the theme of “Mr F.C., an empassioned admirer of the Bass Viola da gamba: François Couperin and his writings for the viola”.

The ample and lively participation, enriched with speeches and interventions, demonstrated the validity and interests that this initiative stimulated in the students, as documented in the video recordings realized in order to construct an archive to be made available to the collective.

The evening was an important moment of dissemination, thanks to the presence of the most notable professors of the Mozarteum, as well as the participation of Luca Pianca (winner of the Swiss Music Prize 2018) who joined with Vittorio Ghielmi in a concert completely dedicated to the Viola da gamba in different combinations with other instruments.

The concert, which attracted a vast audience consisting of students, teachers and composers of the Mozarteum, as well as Salzburg citizens and international guests, generated a broad echo of the Violanet session for many days.

On 23 November, two scientific conferences and two practical “presentations” were held: in the former, Vittorio Ghielmi focused on the subject «”Tic-tac avec l’archet en l’air: the flying technique as the basis of string technique for the early Viola”, while Christoph Urbanetz (Mozarteum Universität Salzburg) spoke of “La tecnica di Marin Marais: new sources and new insights on the French school of Viola da gamba”. The two presentations were curated by Imke David (Hochschule Franz Liszt, Weimar), “La lira da gamba italiana…dal 1505: a theoretical and practical presentation” and Cristiano Contadin (Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello of Venice), who delivered “Cantar alla viola: a theoretical and practical presentation of accompaniment practice on the Viola da gamba”. The afternoon was completed with masterclasses by Violanet professors and more rehearsals for the EYVC. At the end of the rehearsal, one Jazz Violin student united with the Viola da gamba group to prepare a final piece, completely different stylistically from the rest of the program, but indubitably creative and interesting.

On 24 November, the participants visited Mozart’s home and the old location of the Mozarteum, in Schwarzstrasse, where great Maestros like Nikolaus Harnoncourt had taught. In doing so, a signal was given of the Violanet group’s presence in the various locations of the school and ensuring that the students returned from Salzburg with having seen the most important locations –veritable sanctuaries- in music history. After the quick field trip, there were more rehearsals until the European Youth Viol Consort concert, which was truly a special experience: never before had 20 Viola da gambas played together in the Solitär, the large hall of the Mozarteum. It was a beautiful moment of “dissemination”, and above all it was an impressive experience for the young musicians. After the concert, lunch represented a convivial moment of relaxation, as well as another important opportunity to speak further on subjects inherent to the Viola da gamba and to share ideas with all of the participants.

On 25 November, the final masterclasses were held, and finally a round-table discussion in which impressions, desires and critiques were shared with the students, in order to focus on future actions so that the project may be rendered ever more rich and important for the scientific community and for the general public.