International Piccolo Festival “PRACTICE THE PICCOLO” During COVID19

In this time of Covid-19, so dramatic and so strange, many of us are locked in the house, especially here in Italy. Nicola Mazzanti (Artistic Director of International Piccolo Festival), thought to create a "piccolo streaming appointments" on International Piccolo Festival Facebook page, where people could share and improve their knowledge and piccolo technique. The established format was simple: 3 live streaming a week with 30 minutes of warming-up and 30 minutes to answer questions asked by those who interacted from home.

After the first live broadcasts, however, one thing became clear: if it had to be a community, it was to involve the most important and active international piccoloist, just like it happens every summer in the Festival in Grado (Italy). Many of them welcomed the appeal for a qualified and active contribution and the live broadcasts hosted in this order great names as: Peter Verhoyen (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra), Natalie Schwaabe (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk), Marta Rossi (Roma Opera House), Pamela Stahel (Opernhaus Zürich), Jennifer Gunn (Chicago Symphony), Rena Urso (Licensed Body Mapping Educator, Oakland Symphony), Sarah Jackson (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Jeff Zook (Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Gudrun Hinze (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra), Eitan Lior (Israel Philarmonic), Dombourian Zart-Eby (Seattle Symphony Orchestra), Nicole Esposito (Professor at the University of Iowa School of Music) and Erika Peel (Philadelphia Orchestra). 

 The success was explosive if we contextualize it to the small world of the piccolo flute! Many people followed the live streaming and a very high number of them watched the videos later, which remained available on the International Piccolo Festival Facebook page, all to confirm the validity of the idea. 


In the last few months, the Covid-19 emergency took us all by surprise. It forced us to give up all our projects, our trips, our planned activities, keeping us in our houses. There was a sudden twist and change in our lives.

If for a moment we put aside the initial shock, it must be said that this change also had some positive aspects: it has forced us to reflect, to review our lives with a new calm, without the frenetic rhythm of life we are used to. In this situation, it is unavoidable that the time to spend and devote to the instrument was more and the word “study” had a new meaning. We found ourselves without scheduled deadlines or urgent needs such as competitions, auditions, concerts, lessons, etc. For everyone, the term “study” has become a personal need for research and growth, without external pressures. A way to really get in touch with our instruments, with our body and with ourselves.

The only means at our disposal to maintain contacts and relationships was technology, a great gift of our historical era.

In this situation and with these reflections, Nicola Mazzanti thought about how to make the most of this forced confinement time: << What would happen if so many interested people, who live all over the world, were invited to practice with me? All with the piccolo in their hands, in a few words: play together for your own improvement. After all, studying is one of the ways to get to know ourselves>>.

The idea seemed nice and as a result of these reflections, he started an online adventure named “Practice the Piccolo”, promoted by the International Piccolo Festival, of which he is Artistic Director. International Piccolo Festival is an event that has taken place for 8 years, every July in Grado (Italy). Guests and artists of international importance, first parts of the most well-known orchestras and renowned teachers from the most prestigious academies in the world are involved in a series of masterclass, workshops, and concerts to give life to the unique and most important festival in the world entirely dedicated to piccolo, with students coming from five continents.

He immediately involved his staff, composed of Daniela Vilasi, Valeria Di Pietro and Francesco Cirillo, who have worked to make it technically possible and make the communication on social media pleasantly effective.  They started from the live streamings on the International Piccolo Festival Facebook page. The established format was simple: 3 live-streaming a week with 30 minutes of warming-up and 30 minutes to answer questions asked by those who interacted from home, obviously all in English.

After the first live broadcasts, however, one thing became clear: if it had to be a community, it was to involve the most important and active international piccoloist, just like it happens every summer in Grado. Many of them welcomed the appeal for a qualified and active contribution and the live broadcasts hosted great names as: Peter Verhoyen (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra), Natalie Schwaabe (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk), Marta Rossi (Roma Opera House), Pamela Stahel (Opernhaus Zürich), Jennifer Gunn (Chicago Symphony), Rena Urso (Licensed Body Mapping Educator, Oakland Symphony), Sarah Jackson (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Jeff Zook (Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Gudrun Hinze (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra), Eitan Lior (Israel Philarmonic), Dombourian Zart-Eby (Seattle Symphony Orchestra), Nicole Esposito (Professor at the University of Iowa School of Music) and Erika Peel (Philadelphia Orchestra). Each of them with their own experience, their own way of understanding the instrument and the music, with the inevitable variety of styles… but all together with the joy of offering to those who are forced in the house, sometimes alone, materials and suggestions to practice with and give more interest and color to these days of forced lockdown.

The success was explosive if we contextualize it to the small world of the piccolo flute! Many people followed the live streaming and a very high number of them watched the videos later, which remained available on the International Piccolo Festival Facebook page, all to confirm the validity of the idea.

What has emerged is that there is almost a very lively community, even heterogeneous, with a great desire to exchange ideas to approach or deepen the most characteristic aspects of the instrument.

We understood one important thing: the International Piccolo Festival after this experience, in addition to Grado, will be much more present on the web trying to raise awareness of the music world toward our magical, small instrument and now new ideas are already being developed!


LINKS:

http://www.internationalpiccolofestival.com/

https://www.facebook.com/internationalpiccolofestival/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

https://www.instagram.com/internationalpiccolofestival/

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