“Magic is All Around You!” An interview with Petar Kodzas, our new Music Horizons director

February 18, 2015

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You have taught for Music Horizons in the past. What have you learned so far about being at the helm of the program vs. being on the faculty?

I had the good luck to be involved with Music Horizons in many different capacities: at the very beginning, I was the official “disciplinarian,” the one who kept the order and scared students on the verge of doing some kind of mischief! I taught music history class, classical guitar private lessons, and coached chamber groups. Although this experience was very important, I was not exposed to all the facets of running the program. After “shadowing” Ruth Cahn last summer, I was amazed of how many parts move simultaneously and how Ruth solved all problems with so much grace! As a teacher, I was able to focus on teaching only. Now, I understand that it worked that way because the planning was done properly. I hope to provide the same feeling of structure to all involved in the program this year.

How would you describe the students who attend this program?

Above all they are eager to learn and to get better. They are accomplished musicians and play important roles in the musical life of their schools and communities. They are also searching for the perfect match for their future. Music Horizons gives them the opportunity to grow and discover the choices they have in the music world today.

How does Music Horizons differ from other summer music programs for youth?

There is no lack of summer music programs, and that is great news for our future. Music Horizons is unique in its structure and location: it is a snippet of college life, a true taste of what it is like to be a musician in a world-class institution. There are amazing stories of success that the marble in Lowry Hall and the floor of Kilbourn Hall have witnessed in nearly 100 years. Being at Eastman is kind of like your first day at Hogwarts: magic is all around you!

Will there be things that are slightly different from past years’ programs?

I was lucky to be able to bring most of our faculty from the past years. All the great structure and amazing facilities would not be anything without dedicated faculty. Some instructors have been with the program for almost as long as the program has existed! We were all shaken by the passing of our dear colleague Derrick Smith (ECMS voice teacher for many years), and his spirit will be with us this summer. I hope to add some “healthy musician” components with elements of Dalcroze to our daily schedule, and I am looking into ways to secure more individual practice time in the busy days we have planned.

What future plans for Music Horizons can you share?

I would really like to see a strong structure based on instrumental ensembles: string quartet, wind quintet, and brass quintet. For voices, I would like to include more operatic experience and ensemble/scenes opportunities. As in the past, I would hope that each composer has her/his work premiered at Music Horizons performances.