by Andrea Schuler, Summer@Eastman Program Coordinator
Eastman professors Mark Scatterday and Donald Hunsberger know a thing or two about wind conducting: collectively, they have directed the Eastman Wind Ensemble for over 50 years! This summer, Scatterday and Hunsberger will embark on a new joint project, sharing their experience and musical knowledge with conducting students at Summer@Eastman’s Summer Wind Conducting Institute. Conductors chosen by audition will have the opportunity to join Scatterday, Hunsberger, and wind players from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for a week of intense musical study and performance. Here, SWCI Director Mark Scatterday offers a preview of this new institute:
What inspired you to create this course?
Don and I developed the Frederick Fennell Memorial Masterclasses with the Conductors Guild about 12 years ago; they run during the academic year, about every other year. These classes are a great opportunity for young conductors to work with the actual Eastman Wind Ensemble (instead of during the summers with a pick-up group).
We wanted to build on this concept and create a conducting course specifically for Summer@Eastman. The idea of using RPO wind players for a wind conducting institute really interested me; it offers conductors the chance to work with a top-notch professional ensemble. I’m excited that the institute represents our ideal of the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the school! This is an educational experience that will take the young, developing conductor to another level very quickly but also very permanently.
It will be wonderful to see Donald Hunsberger back at Eastman! What is his role in the institute?
Don is excited to be involved, for sure. He has been such an instrumental force with the Fennell Masterclasses; I look forward to having him work with the conducting participants. His presence at this sort of clinic is invaluable: students and musicians alike learn from his professionalism, his technique, and the history he brings to the podium. The plan is for him to do as much as he can throughout the week–usually that means I’ll be trying to keep up with him!
Talk a bit about the Harmonie ensemble, for those of us who are not familiar with the term—what is it, and why did you decide to use this configuration for the summer institute? What can conducting students learn by focusing on this particular group?
The Harmonie ensemble dates back over 250 years; it was used most notably during Mozart’s time. The standard instrumentation is two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns (basically the wind section from the standard classical symphony of the 18th century). Its advantage in a workshop setting is the intimacy and accessibility of chamber instrumentation: hearing and balancing only eight different voices presents a less stressful learning environment and offers more chances for feedback from conductors as well as players. People tend to be more willing to give suggestions when there is less going on in the room; chamber music lends itself well to direct and less-intimidating communication and learning. Many excellent works have been written for this wind octet (we plan a mixture of music by such composers as Mozart, Beethoven, Hartmann, Uhl, and Dove) and we look forward to having the participating conductors learn and experience this music at a very high level.
What can conductors expect from this workshop? What makes this program unique?
Conductors will learn more about great works by terrific composers. They will conduct, rehearse, and learn from wonderful professional players and from energetic, helpful, and experienced faculty! This institute is unique because it gives the conductors a chance to work with a professional orchestra wind section: these musicians play together all the time, and they’ve experienced so many great (and maybe not so great!) situations with conductors over the years. There is such an advantage to working with a well-established core group that has so much information, experience and guidance to offer.
Anything else you would like to share?
I’m really looking forward to having conductors from all over the world come to Eastman in July to make great music. We will enjoy learning from the RPO players, the Eastman faculty, and each other–come join us for a week of sharing, growth, and inspiration!