ArticlesAugust 2017FeaturedIssues

Galway Flute Festival: Reflections (Barbara Siesel)

What a week! When I arrived in Weggis, Switzerland for the Galway Flute Festival I didn’t know what to expect, certainly not the inspiring, loving, musical and exciting week that I experienced!!

Here are some of the highlights for me:

It’s incredibly beautiful here – the mountains, trees and flowers, the lake, the fresh fragrant air, the birds and goats, the cats and squirrels, I knew I was in a special place.

I stayed in a lovely BnB in the next town over called Vitznau with a view of the lake and mountains and a terrace for my breakfast coffee.

Stella Matutina where the conference is held is a conference center run by nuns, it’s a beautiful and clearly spiritual place and I felt that energy throughout my stay.

The Master Classes

here are a few of the teachings that really inspired me:

Sir James-

“You need singing notes- don’t rush them”

“Don’t forget to take the small breaths”

“Flute playing, not flute blowing”

“If you don’t practice nothing happens”

Lady Jeanne-

“avoid playing a long note and waiting for a change”

“Never sacrifice your sound”

“Make sure music stand is low, better yet, play memorized”

The atmosphere was extremely warm, friendly and supportive people really rooted for each other. This atmosphere is fostered by Sir James and Lady Jeanne who are committed to making everyone feel welcome, with the understanding that each student is here to learn at whatever level they are. And did I tell you about the food? The nuns prepare all the meals, and include a variety of salads, veggies, chicken or fish. The fruits and veggies are all grown nearby; even on the property there are rows of green houses where you can see the tomatoes and salad greens growing!

The lake- Stella Matutina is a short walk from lake Luzern and there is a special place for swimming in the clear cool water surrounded by mountains and blue sky.

I felt honored to present my work with Green Golly Project and Curriculive and to also play for the students. The response was positive and supportive and I think my presentation and that of my colleagues at The Flute View added to the festival and brought a new perspective about careers to the students.

I’m awake – thinking about flute playing and music in a new and refreshed way, and ready to get to work practicing the new things I learned.

I also loved making new friends and hearing all the amazing guest artists who became friends and inspiration.

Speaking with all the dealers who came and experiencing their genorousity as well. Gemeinhardt, Haynes, Adams European Flute Center, Lafin, Nagahara, Burkart, Powell and Eva Kingma, all exhibited and donated instruments to the festival to be awarded to the students.  In addition, Straubinger Flutes, Frost School, and Marina Piccinini Master Classes donated scholarships to the students. I’m moved and inspired that there is so much sponsorship for talented students in need of funding, and I know that the Galway's work year round to raise funds for the students.

My Story:

In addition to what I’ve shared so far I had a few personal, reflective moments. My parents were born nearby in a mountainous village in the western part of Germany near the French border. They are long gone, but somehow being here brought them back to me. The way a waiter joked with me reminded me of the way my father joked- could it be a regional style- the other central Europeans at the festival joked like this too! My mother often spoke about the cute black squirrels and how they look different from American squirrels, I always wondered if she remembered this correctly, but on a walk I saw an adorable black squirrel and realized that she was right. I often feel that I sometimes speak with too much energy and enthusiasm, but then I met a number of Swiss and Germans in the class who speak enthusiastically like me (although I tone it down now), and since I always saw myself as all American (being the one family member born in the US) it was enlightening to see where my behavior comes from my Central European roots. These are precious moments for me and I’m grateful to have had them.

The Flute View is thrilled that we had this opportunity and look forward to sharing more stories from the festival in the future.

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