Mihai Diaconescu: "It gave me the feeling of a continuous state of alumni"
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
A few years ago, one of my mentors mentioned Fontainebleau festival. I never heard about it and I didn’t know it will be one of my greatest musical experiences.
The Écoles d’art Américaines Festival in Fontainebleau has an extremely rich history starting with one of the main musical personalities of the 20th century - Nadia Boulanger. Each year a group of selected musicians has the chance to experience one month of intense music making, lessons given by renown masters, concerts and other interesting activities such as intercourses with the architecture world. I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have been part of the 2019 program. I had big expectations but it was even better. It gave me the feeling of a continuous state of alumni that will follow me all my life.
I will never forget those mornings going for a lesson or rehearsal and approaching the majestic and mysterious Château.
The thirst of accumulating and improving is much more important than reaching a certain type of artistic career or image of an accomplished artist. The irreversible mood and ideas I have now are due to very special music encounters with extraordinary masters and colleagues, and being for one month immersed in an idealistic musical bubble. One month making music in a spectacular Chateau and around it! A unique aura of the festival is given by it's main “school building” which happens to be one of the most important castles in France where all the kings lived at some point during their ruling. I hope their ghosts where not too much disturbed by my wrong notes! I will never forget those mornings going for a lesson or rehearsal and approaching the majestic and mysterious Château. The festival has many magical ingredients with a special intimate atmosphere - not easy to find in other festivals.
My first thought in the morning was not how beautiful is everything here or how happy I should be to study in the Chateau: it was a kind of stress, especially if I had harmony lesson that day. The schedule was usually packed every day, director Diana Ligeti took care of keeping us quite busy. But that was part of the charm. Piano masterclasses started early and the only way to prepare it was to wake up and practice Ravel half sleeping. After a masterclass one could feel flying and being completely inspired, especially if the lesson was taught by Robert Levin. Always fresh and always captivating us with his genius. The day continued with multiple other musical activities, practicing, rehearsals or other lessons.
The lesson was demanding but absolutely captivating. It reminds probably a glimpse of Nadia Boulanger's style.
Lunch was rushed and no time for coffee, the little time between lunch and harmony lesson should be exploited for preparation. Walking again to the Chateau. A deep and strong female voice was dominating one of the inner courtyard; it was the sound of Isabelle Duha's tenor voice suggesting to a student in a typical manner that the chord progression is an obvious one V-I V-I. It’s impossible to forget that voice. The lesson was demanding but absolutely captivating. It reminds probably a glimpse of Nadia Boulanger's style. End of the day was a moment of breathing and enjoying time with dear colleagues. Many stories were shared around a bottle of wine near the Canal. Another beautiful consequence of the festival is the wish of playing again with my friends and creating some new projects together. I already have some plans, hopefully it will work.