venerdì 29 novembre 2013

" Music for Saxophones " by Iñaki Askunze

It has been released the first work of Iñaki Askunze, teacher of Harmony, Arrangements, Composition and Big band at the Jazz Department of  Conservatory in the Basque Country ( Musikene ) and the Conservatory Pablo Sarasate in Pamplona, (Spain), director of the Big Band "Pyrenees Jazz Orchestra ". Former student at Berklee College (Boston, USA) from 1988 to 1991 with Herb Pomeroy, Joe Viola, Bill Pierce, Ed Tomasi, Hal Crook and many others.I graduated in “Jazz Composition” and “Performance (saxophone)” Diploma.

Book - cd
" Music for Saxophones" (Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 ) including duets, trios and quartets for saxophones.

           " Music for Saxophones " is endorsed by:
Lee Konitz , Randy Brecker, Chris Cheek , Manuel Miján , Perico Sambeat , Pedro Iturralde , Bob Sands and Ramon Ricker .

To buy the book + CD contact Iñaki Askunze

Dina Shikhman, a young Canadian soprano at ISTITUTO EUROPEO for a Study Abroad in Music

by Ilaria Gelichi

1. Dina, you are studying Vocal Technique for opera singers at ISTITUTO EUROPEO with Susanna Rigacci. Why did you choose her and how is your relationship?

When I was researching places to study in Italy, I came across Istituto Europeo and I kind of just knew I had to study here. I researched the teachers at Istituto Europeo and came across Susanna Rigacci. I listened to her singing on YouTube, then I spoke to my teachers back home and they all agreed that she would be the right choice for me. I didn’t give up until I received confirmation that she would be my teacher. I am currently studying with Susanna here in Florence and I really enjoy the lessons and the relationship we have, we have a great mutual understanding.

2. What do you think you are learning particularly from Susanna?

I can say that the Italian style of singing and the North American style are very different. In North America, there is more pressure to be perfect always. Before coming here I was focusing completely on technique and Susanna gave me the opportunity to actually sing and blossom in my own singing style. She is helping me to explore different ways to achieve vocal greatness. I’m doing a lot of exercises and different techniques I don’t usually do at home. She is also helping me to become more free.

3.  Culturally speaking – but in regards to music too - have you noticed many differences between your country, Canada, and Italy?

I have always had pressure – as I said earlier - to be the best but what I learned here and particularly from Susanna is that I cannot be perfect now. I will eventually get better but “no one is ever perfect”, she said, “I’m still learning now”. For her it’s important that I achieve the right position, the right point, from which I can then improve.
In regards to culture in general, I find that Italians are very relaxed and not very strict with time. Their lifestyle is much more taking it day by day, minute by minute almost. You will hardly ever see an Italian in a rush, which is very different than Toronto.  

4. What do you think about the city of Florence?

I have heard that Florence is the most beautiful city in the world, from everyone who had been here before I came. I can say that this is definitely true. In Florence there is a lot of beautiful art, history and architecture and I love that. Here I’ve seen some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and that’s just on my walk to school. I feel that in Toronto if you want to see art and history you have to go out and find it; whereas here in Florence, it’s everywhere. I wasn’t expecting the city to be so full of history, like the old cobblestone roads, the buildings, etc. I think it’s extremely difficult to drive in this city. I always walk and that’s great because I don’t think I would have seen as much as I’ve seen if I wasn’t walking around everywhere, exploring and being able to stop – if I had a car this wouldn’t be possible.

5. How did you start as a singer? How did you realize that you wanted to become a singer?

When I was very little, about a few months old, my parents where shocked because my dad used to sing to me and I hummed the melody back. When I was 3 I started doing “concerts” for the neighbourhood, everyday at lunch time. Then we moved to Canada and my parents put me in a music school, where I performed and studied for many years. One day my mother saw an advertisement in the newspaper for an opera singer who was offering lessons so she suggested we go hear what a professional’s opinion. I went to see him and he said “she has to sing opera, she’s got a talent”. So I started studying opera when I was 11 and I just never stopped. Then I went to university to study classical voice performance and that’s how I ended up in Florence finishing the last credits of my undergraduate degree.

6. What are your plans for the future? Do you have goals to reach?

I definitely have goals to reach. Of course my plans are to become a famous opera singer, a really famous one. Like Susanna, because she is known all over the world, I’ve heard of her in Toronto. I want to be known… It would be true success – that, and also being able to have an equally successful family life.

7. In your opinion, which is the best quality an opera singer should have?

Patience. Which I don’t have! I want my voice to just “work” right way, but it takes time and lots of meticulous work. There are lots of seemingly boring, annoying exercises which will get you there and you have to do, and patience is the key… A quality that I definitely lack, but I think it’s really important for opera singers. And also perseverance- you really need to have a goal in mind and you have to work towards it, you can’t give up. You have to be positive all the time… Also something I lack!

8. “A winner never quits. A quitter never wins.” Is that true?

Yes, that’s true for sure. I know people who have quit and others who even though they might not be the best, they don’t give up. It’s like that with every profession I think, not just opera: the minute you give up, you’re not serious, you don’t want it badly enough.

9. Has this experience in Italy changed you in some way?

Yes, I think it has changed me in a lot of ways. It taught me to be independent: I still live with my parents and I’m the youngest of 3 children and I’ve always had my family and friends and around me as my support system. Being alone in another country made me stronger mentally and taught me to be my own support system. Also, when I’m at home I always find a reason not to practice, because I don’t like singing in front of my family. I also have practice rooms at school back home, but I never found the time or reason to. Maybe I was too unmotivated… I find that I practice here a lot more than I do at home, which definitely helps me.

10. Have you already started working with any opera companies?

Yes, I have. When I was about 12 I joined the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus in Toronto. They are an excellent chorus led by excellent musicians and people. The Canadian Opera Company (who is the resident company in the Four Seasons Opera House in Toronto) always turns to the CCOC first when casting children in their productions. I performed in the children’s chorus in productions such as La Boheme, Carmen, and I even had the role of 3rd spirit in the Magic Flute when I was about 12-13. Last year during the 3rd year of my undergraduate my teachers suggested I audition for Opera in Concert, which is a company in Toronto. I guess they liked me because I’m still working with them now-it’s my second season. I haven’t only performed in the chorus of Opera in Concert, I also had the supporting role of Myrtale in Thais. The director of Opera in Concert is the same of Toronto Operetta Theatre, and I’ve done 3 opererttas now with them. While I was in Italy now I went back to Canada for 2 weeks because I got an offer to do a role with that company. Opportunities come and go… and since this was during my fall break I am grateful that I had the ability to accept this one.

11. Would you recommend an experience like yours at ISTITUTO EUROPEO?

Definitely. Especially If you are studying opera as I do. I think it has helped me to grow, and to learn a lot. Studying Italian in Italy (as studying any language in its home country) is extremely helpful, because you are forced to speak it with people who don’t understand you. I’m good at languages generally, but I never learned one so quickly. Studying Italian here helped me immensely to learn it much quicker. But also singing: where else you can study opera if not in Italy?

mercoledì 13 novembre 2013

Why study Italian? Interview to Sylvia Plyler, musician and student at ISTITUTO EUROPEO


by Ilaria Gelichi

1) Sylvia tell us something about yourself. How was your passion for the Italian language and culture born?

I come from a small town in South Carolina and I’m a musician, so I’ve always been attracted by sounds. As a young girl I played the piano, so I came to the language through music – Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, etc… The 24 Italian hits, as we call them. Hearing Italian for me is like listening to music: the sounds are very beautiful.

2) Why did you decide to study Italian?

I decided to start the study because of music, which was my profession. I’m here also to improve my pronunciation, so that I can speak better Italian with Italians. For me it’s not difficult to pronounce Italian sounds, probably because at school we were taught the use of IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) – and because I have an ear for music, which is important also with languages. I think it’s very important to know the IPA if you want to start studying a language; nowadays young people do not know it anymore.

3) Why did you choose Florence?

Because Florence is where the music was born! We could mention the Florentine Camerata, a group of poets, musicians and intellectuals who, during the Renaissance, gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni de’ Bardi to discuss about music and arts. Florence is not only the home town of music, but also of Italian language - with the masterpieces of Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca.

4) How long have you been studying Italian?

I came to Italy – and specifically, Florence - to study Italian for the first time in 1980. I stayed 1 month in this beautiful city, trying to hear the sounds of the language in my ears. I’ve taught music for 25 years, so sounds are really important for me!
In the USA I studied Latin, then I had a wonderful teacher who taught me how to translate opera’s librettos. I understood the music fairly well but the root of the language, not as well as the music. So I learned a lot of ancient, difficult words, which I couldn’t use in everyday language. My objective is now to improve all these skills.

5) What do you like most of Italy and Florence?

Well, all the things I haven’t done yet! I will never forget my first visit to Uffizi, when I saw for the first time a painting by Botticelli. It was an incredible emotion. I like Florence because it’s the birthplace of a lot of things: language, art, Renaissance. I have to stay in Florence not only for the language, but also for the air you breathe here: there is something fascinating in it.

6) How did you know Istituto Europeo?

By accident. I had a student, a wonderful pianist who works in Germany, who had studied at Istituto Europeo in 2011. He told me “Why don’t you study here?”. I was in touch with an organization in Chicago, I got a scholarship and finally came here at the Istituto. I think that musicians and above all opera vocalist absolutely need to spend time in Italy, because hearing the language in its country it’s far better.

7) How was your experience at Istituto Europeo? Would you recommend it?

Fabulous, absolutely wonderful. I’ve studied Italian in other schools and Institutes, but I think that this is a better program. Here classes are small, we have a lot of attention and can ask questions. The atmosphere is so tranquilla here! You give the students the opportunity to do what they like. I would strongly recommend this experience.

giovedì 7 novembre 2013

History of Opera at ISTITUTO EUROPEO in 14 lectures

History of Opera

The course surveys the historical and artistic evolution of Italian opera, from the Renaissance (Monteverdi) to the Modernity (Puccini).  The historical aspects of opera, like singing, instruments, structure, will be studied as well the peculiar components of literature (libretto) and theatre. Emphasis will be placed on the major operatic composers and their masterpieces: From the madrigalistic comedy to the Recitar cantando - C. Monteverdi - The comic and the serious opera (from the 17th until the 18th century) - The Neapolitan School and the Neoclassicism - G. Rossini - V. Bellini, G. Donizetti and the Belcanto - G. Verdi - The melodrama after Verdi and the Verismo - G. Puccini - The opera after Puccini and the contemporary composers.


Week 1   Introduction to the course. The birth of opera. Florentine camerata. Music  and poetry: the recitative dramatic style.
Week 2  Monteverdi, the founder of opera: his life and works. Opera goes to Venice: theatres and show business.
Week 3    Opera in XVIII c.: the triumph of Opera Seria. The Neapolitan and Venetian schools. Lyricism and virtuosity: the aria. The Reform opera of Gluck and Calzabigi: a search for unity.
Week 4    Opera Buffa: the tradition of comedy. A Musical entertainment: the intermezzo. Italian era in Europe: Paris, London, Vienna.
Week 5   Mozart’s operas: towards an absolute truth. Da Ponte, a librettist and a libertine.
Week 6   Opera in France in the late XVIII c.: Cherubini e Spontini. The spirit of the French Revolution and  the magnificence of the Grand Opera. Beethoven’s Fidelio.
Week 7     Written MID-TERM EXAM. 
Week 9.   Elements of opera in XIX c.: composers, singers, production, structures. A change of the century: Rossini from Opera Buffa to Romantic opera.
Week 10  The season of Bel Canto. Bellini lyricism in drama. Donizetti: bourgeois spirit in comedy and  tragedy
Week 11  Verdi’s operas: human passions and ideals in the era of Risorgimento. Verdi from Nabucco to Falstaff: an evolution in style.
Week 12    Scapigliati and bohemians: Boito and Verdi.
Week 13   A slice of life: the young school of  Verismo. Mascagni and Leoncavallo.
Week 14   The sentimental naturalism of Puccini.

ISTITUTO EUROPEO Music Department: the Story


The Origins

It all started many years ago, in 1991, from a demand of some European students from Austria, Germany, France, etc. who used to come to Florence to study Italian - “la dolce lingua del sì.” Many of them were Musicians, and while staying here they constantly needed to practice their vocal skills and instruments.

It happened in this simple and a bit old fashioned way that the ISTITUTO EUROPEO Music Department began its story.

ISTITUTO EUROPEO’s reputation is now well known for its flexibility and its capability to adapt to new market changes. We hold tremendous interest in understanding markets that never cease to fluctuate around the world and constantly undermine any attempt to classify and categorize trends and changes.

Throughout the years we have also welcomed many students from American universities for the Study Abroad Program. We produced an International Singing Competition staging famous Operas. We held concerts in historical churches and palaces of Florence.

In the end, we were able to set up a perfect mechanism to teach singing. For this reason we believe that when you think of the ISTITUTO EUROPEO Music Department, you have to think of a perfect product. We have confidence in our program and can dare say that our method is one worth learning!

A method of Excellence

Today our Music Department, led by Director Monica Benvenuti, has become a win-win situation. We created a product of success for your success. Every time you leave the classroom after your tailor-made lesson, you can feel and measure the results and benefits you receive from this one-on-one attention.

ISTITUTO EUROPEO Music Department’s brand has now become synonymous with quality. When you buy our lessons, you buy quality. The ISTITUTO EUROPEO Music Department provides students with a method of Excellence.

Visit our website and contact us for information about our courses!

martedì 5 novembre 2013

Tiffany Tobias: dal Canada all'ISTITUTO EUROPEO a Firenze per studiare canto lirico

 di Ilaria Gelichi

1. Tiffany, raccontaci di come sei diventata una cantante lirica.

Ho sempre amato la musica, ma l’amore per la lirica è arrivato quando avevo 14 anni. Ho visto la mia prima opera, La Boheme, a New York e mi sono innamorata subito di quest’arte, ma in quel momento credo di non aver capito esattamente di cosa e perché – fino a poco tempo fa.

2. E adesso, sei riuscita a capire il perché?

Certamente. Mi piace cantare e mi affascina questo tipo di tecnica perché è molto difficile da acquisire. Al di là della voce, bisogna prima imparare a conoscere il proprio corpo, la propria mente ed il proprio spirito – tutto. Acquisire queste difficili capacità è diventata una sfida per me, e l’idea mi piace molto.

3. Come devi impostare il tuo corpo per cantare al meglio?

Si tratta di un connubio di due fattori, quello fisico ma anche quello psicologico. Devi imparare ad utilizzare ogni muscolo del tuo corpo rimanendo contemporaneamente rilassata e con la mente fresca e quindi c’è bisogno di tanta disciplina per sincronizzare il tutto. Mi piace questa sfida!

4. Pensi che ci sia un legame tra carriera e segno zodiacale?

Perché no? Quello che so del mio segno zodiacale, il Sagittario, è che ha un carattere avventuroso e creativo – e io sono proprio così!

5. Pensi di essere una persona creativa e capace di innovare?

Al momento sono ancora una principiante in questo campo, quindi non penso di poter essere tanto innovativa quanto vorrei esserlo in futuro. Comunque, secondo me ciò che fa diventare grande un cantante è la sincerità. Per me, un artista che riesce a trasmettere le proprie emozioni mentre canta, riuscendo quindi ad attingere dalle esperienze personali e mostrare al pubblico una certa genuinità, è ciò che fa diventare lui/lei e l’esecuzione davvero eccellenti.

6. Secondo te, cos’è più importante – la tecnica o il sentimento?

Entrambi. Ma se dovessi scegliere, direi il sentimento. Pensiamo ad esempio a Maria Callas: la sua tecnica era di altissimo livello ma non senza qualche difetto; eppure, riusciva a trasmettere le emozioni così bene da risultare genuina ed otteneva un grande successo. Si può guardare un video di lei che canta togliendo il volume, e riuscire ugualmente a commuoversi grazie alla sua esecuzione. Bisogna proprio dire quindi che avere un’ottima tecnica è splendido e di vitale importanze, ma se dietro di essa non c’è alcun sentimento si viene a creare una sorta di dissociazione e l’esecuzione diventa piuttosto “statica”.

7. Che sentimenti provi quando canti? Pensi a qualcosa in particolare?

Quando canto provo a focalizzarmi sui sentimenti del personaggio che sto interpretando o del pezzo che sto eseguendo; immagino il mio personaggio come un vero essere umano, in modo da renderlo più tridimensionale possibile. Penso anche ad una mia esperienza personale che possa aiutarmi a trasmettere l’emozione nel modo più realistico possibile.

8. Perché hai scelto l’Italia e in particolare Firenze per i tuoi studi di musica?

Perché mi sono trovata (e mi trovo tuttora) ad un punto nella mia vita in cui volevo ricominciare da capo e ritornare alle origini sotto ogni aspetto. Quindi è stato logico per me trasferirmi a Firenze, in modo da poter comprendere fino in fondo il luogo dove la lirica è nata; per l’appunto, questo luogo si trova in questo bellissimo Paese, l’Italia.

9. C’è differenza tra studiare musica in Canada o in Italia?

Sì e no. E’ difficile per me dare un giudizio, a volte ho la sensazione che la mia abilità di comprensione e di “crescita” sia molto limitata a causa della barriera linguistica. Comunque, qui all’Istituto Europeo ho un’insegnante fantastica. Forse potrei dire che qui in Italia gli insegnanti, durante la pratica, sono più “severi” ad hanno aspettative più alte, ma non posso affermarlo con certezza, dato che in generale ho avuto poca esperienza con gli insegnanti di lirica. Devo anche riconoscere che quando vivevo ancora a Toronto non mi dedicavo così tanto alla musica come faccio adesso. Comunque, alcuni dettagli rimangono uguali dappertutto: per esempio, un buon insegnante non si focalizza solo su un elemento, perché ciò che può essere importante per la crescita professionale di uno studente, può esserlo di meno per un altro.

10. Com’è stata la tua esperienza all’Istituto Europeo?

Assolutamente positiva, consiglierei la stessa esperienza ad un amico. La mia insegnante, Valeria, è molto brava. Dà importanza non solo alla voce, ma ad ogni aspetto della mia vita, come ad esempio la salute e l’alimentazione: adesso vado a correre 5 giorni a settimana!

11. E’ molto comune in Canada l’opera lirica?

Sì, ci sono tanti ottimi insegnanti e compagnie che sembrano essere in prima linea in questo settore al momento. Ma è buffo pensare che prima di trasferirmi a Firenze ho cantato nella compagnia Toronto City Opera per due anni e i nostri tre direttori principali erano tutti di origine italiana.

12. Sei una cantante ma anche una blogger. Come concili le due cose?

Mi piace leggere e scrivere, è un modo di fare un’auto-riflessione su ciò che accade nella mia vita; come cantare, è una sorta di bisogno organico. Inoltre, entrambi questi modi di esprimersi sono una sorta di sfogo creativo, quindi per me vanno di pari passo. Ogni volta che nella mia vita accade qualcosa di importante, prendo una sorta di “appunto” mentale e inizio a pianificare come mi piacerebbe condividere questo pezzo di vita con gli altri attraverso la scrittura. Un giorno mi piacerebbe anche scrivere un libro sulla nascita di un cantante, perché il percorso è piuttosto affascinante.

13. Che consiglio daresti ad un giovane che vuole diventare cantante?

Gli direi: se ti piace cantare, fallo. E’ così semplice… Certo, richiede tantissimo impegno, duro lavoro e pazienza, ma se sei così fortunato da avere la consapevolezza di cosa ti piace fare nella vita, devi sfruttare l’occasione: fallo! Anche se come me hai avuto una carriera totalmente diversa in passato, scacciare la paura è il primo passo da fare nella giusta direzione. Le grandi opportunità si presentano solo a coloro che sanno cogliere le occasioni.