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(Español) El meigo de Allariz

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When performing meets creating: CullerArts International Violin Competition

CullerArts

Left to right: Cristóbal Soler, Jordi Mayor, Pilar Jurado & Juan Carlos Alandete

On Monday 10th February the 2nd International Violin Competition “CullerArts” was presented at Longoria Palace in Madrid, the headquarters of SGAE (Spanish General Society of Authors and Publishers). Organised by the Cullera Town Hall and with maestro Cristóbal Soler as music director, this competition opens up a new pathway for composers by incorporating a composition award. The presentation started with a few words by Pilar Jurado, president of SGAE. She spoke about the partnership agreement between SGAE and the Cullera Town Hall to create this new composition award. “There is no better way to celebrate the 120th anniversary of SGAE than by creating an award which can help to generate new repertoire for violinists around the world. It’s one of the many actions we will carry out in 2020 to boost the repertoire and encourage our creators so that they can keep making history”, she said. Then Jordi Mayor, Cullera’s Mayor and one of the main supporters of this project, highlighted the collaboration with SGAE in the creation of the composition award, which will give a greater international reputation to the ‘CullerArts’ violin competition: “It’s an opportunity not only for performers, but also for composers who can do their bit for the repertoire of violin solo”.CullerArts1

Cristóbal Soler spoke about the awareness of some Spanish regional administrations, specially those in the region of Valencia, to carry out sustainable musical projects in case of eventual economic crisis: “When you are creating a project such as this violin competition, it’s fundamental that the administrations can guarantee their sustainability and continuity”.

This second edittion will consist of an eliminatory round where participants will play for 10 minutes each. They will have to perform one Paganini Capriccio of their choice and a slow movement of a Sonata or Partita by J. S. Bach. There will only be eight participants at the semifinal and they will have to play virtuosic works with piano accompaniment (this round will be opened to the general public). The three finalists will perform their works accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Valencia.

Violinists from around the world aged 17 and 27 can participante in this competition. The registration period will be between February 17th and May 30th 2020. Applications and required documents (see www.cullera.es) will be sent to casacultura@cullera.es.

The event concluded with the signing of the partnership agreement between the Cullera Town Hall and SGAE. The composition prize is endowed with 2.000 €. The award winning work, —for violin solo and 7 to 8 minutes long— will be announced at the final of the 2nd International Violin Competition and it will be performed as a compulsory piece for the next edition of this competition in 2021.

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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(Español) La foto

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(Español) Lo que nunca llegué a escribir

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(Español) La consagración

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(Español) Llamémosle Emilio

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Mancha Real, opening new musical ways

It is the first one of its kind in Spain. And it is also the first time that the most classical ensemble in classical music has its own international competition in Spain: the string quartet, the four instrumental voices par excellence. It has been already over four hundred years that Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes started writing his world famous novel Don Quixote having no desire to call to mind the name of a village of La Mancha. Today, however, 415 years after the publication of Cervantes first part of Don Quixote, I beg the reader to call to mind the name of this other place: Mancha Real. Ladies and gentlemen, ¡the 1st International String Quartet Competition “Villa de Mancha Real” has been born! Please, do not get mixed up! Mancha Real is not a Castilian village like Don Quixote’s, but an Andalusian one near the city of Jaén. The people from Mancha Real are known as mancharrealeños yes, I know, hard to pronounce in English, give a try if you can! Our book would start like this: “In a village of Andalusia, the name of which I’ll always have desire to call to mind, there lives a mayoress determined to show the world that in the village of Mancha Real there are loads of talent, hospitality and future. A land of musicians and olive groves, arisen from a ‘spot’ (that is the meaning of ‘mancha’ in English) of pine trees and ‘royal’ (that is what ‘real’ means in Spanish) because one day a king passed by and found solace and sustenance in the village, the former Manchuela de Jaén (Little Spot of Jaén) became the Royal Spot (Mancha Real) of today. And the most royal string quartets, the best of sounds and most beautiful melodies will arise from this land on the foothills of Sierra Mágina.”

Mancha Real mayoress María del Mar Dávila and maestro Cristóbal Soler.

Mancha Real mayoress María del Mar Dávila and maestro Cristóbal Soler. Madrid, January 2020.

On Monday 20th January 2020, Maria del Mar Dávila, the mayoress of Mancha Real, travelled to Madrid to officially present the 1st International String Quartet Competition “Villa de Mancha Real”. Next to her was the orchestra conductor and maestro Cristóbal Soler, founder of this competition, who had also travelled from Valencia to Madrid for the presentation. Will this be a “quixotic” undertaking of the 21st century? The place chosen for the presentation was the Madrid Royal Conservatoire of Music. It was five in the afternoon, exactly five o’clock in the afternoon. Very few people, hardly anyone. Maestro Soler sadly expresses his disappointment to the deputy director of the conservatoire —maybe the one to blame for not spreading the news among professors and students. Will it be a sign of how arduous and quixotic this wonderful undertaking is? Never mind! The mayoress and the maestro do not flinch and they go on with the presentation of this new international competition in Spain. Both of them are aware that a ‘baby’ needs to be pampered since it is in the parent’s belly.

IMG_20200120_175511The mayoress of Mancha Real speaks about the hospitality of the mancharrealeños —Come on! Pronounce it and get it right if you dare!—, she talks about the history and wonders of this Andalusian village, near Jaén. Just a little over 11.000 inhabitants, Mancha Real has a great musical tradition. Maria del Mar Dávila talks with pride and joy about their typical “andrajos”, a tradicional stew made with flour, about their sweet “papajotes” for Easter Week, about their “risor”, a coffee brandy from the region, about their precious and exquisite olive oil and their prosperous wood and furniture industry —by the way, Mancha Real has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in Spain. The mayoress can’t help mentioning the Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista (St. John the Evangelist Church), the symbol of this village. She also reveals a future plan to make the Carmelite Convent founded by St. Juan de la Cruz —the author of the Spiritual Canticle: silent music, sounding solitude— into a theatre. Will it be the venue for future editions of the International String Quartet Competition “Villa de Mancha Real”?

IMG_20200120_170406On the other hand, maestro Cristóbal Soler says that he loves being close to young musicians, because he learns a lot from them. Actually, he is the conductor who collaborates the most with the Spanish National Youth Orchestra (JONDE). “The level of musicians as individuals in Spain is excellent. However, there are very few chamber music competitions. I think the secret for a good musical education is to master an instrument and, at the same time, have the ability to listen. You are a good musician when you are able to master your instrument while listening to others. Chamber music is the solution. And the string quartet is the queen of chamber music! There is no other competition like this in Spain. And it is so necessary…”, he explains.

The 1st International String Quartet Competition “Villa de Mancha Real” will be held on 3rd, 4th and 5th of July 2020. String quartets from all nationalities will be admitted as long as their members are aged 18 to 35 years old. For 2020, the first prize will be 3.000 €, the second prize 2.000 € and 1.000 € for the third one. The submission period will be from February 1st to May 31st. Since 2020 is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven, there will be a mandatory piece for all competitors: Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major no. 1 op. 18. You can see the rules for the competition on the website of Mancha Real Townhall: https://www.manchareal.es

The mancharrealeños —Come on, third time’s a charm! will pamper and look after their musical baby. Let’s open up new musical ways in the land of musicians…

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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(Español) De lance y viejo

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An Actor, an Immortal Beloved & the Brentano Quartet

Brentano Quartet

It was cocaine and heroine. He was found dead in his bathroom by a friend. He had a syringe in his arm. Philip was 46 and, as the song goes, «only the good die young». I must admit my lack of knowledge when it comes down to films and I didn’t know he had such a long and successful career as an actor. But when I heard of his death in 2014, the first image of him coming to my mind was his performance in «A Late Quartet», a 2012 film inspired by Beethoven’s String Quartet in C# minor Op. 131. The film received positive reviews in general and the cast of main actors was great indeed: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots. However, few people know that the music of the film was performed by the Brentano Quartet. Actually, one of the members of this American quartet, the cellist Nina Lee, appears at the final scene replacing Christopher Walken. And the thing is that despite the great performance of the actors, this film particularly without music would come to nothing.

Antonie Brentano

Antonie Brentano

The Brentano Quartet was founded back in 1992 at the prestigious Julliard School and is named for Antonie Brentano, believed to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved”. In 1998, the cellist Michael Kannen left the quartet, following his wife’s injury in an automobile accident, to care for his young child. Kannen was replaced by Nina Lee and the line-up of the Brentano Quartet has remained the same for more than 20 years now: Misha Amory (viola), Serena Canin (violin), Nina Lee (cello) and Mark Steinberg (violin).

This American quartet will be on tour around Spain in January 2020 visiting Murcia, Valencia, Orense, Pontevedra and Lugo. They’ll be performing emblematic works of the string quartet repertoire: the Quartet in A major K. 464 by Mozart and Beethoven’s Quartet in A Major Op. 18 No. 5 and the Quartet in E-flat Major No. 12 Op. 127, the first of Beethoven’s late quartets.

SPANISH TOUR IN JANUARY 2020

Monday 13th. Auditorio Victor Villegas. Murcia.
Tuesday 14th. Palau de la Música. Valencia.
Wednesday 15th. Teatro Principal. Orense.
Thursday 16th. Teatro Principal. Pontevedra.
Friday 17th. Circulo de las Artes. Lugo

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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ACTAYS, a Story of Music and Alliances

This is the story of how sometimes things really work. Nine months ago, I wouldn’t have thought this could finally happen. But it happened. And what a great experience it was! In March 2019, I attended a charity play for children at Nemomarlin Pintor Rosales, a nursery school for children aged from 0 to 3 years old in Madrid. Raquel Menéndez, the director of the school and a very good old friend of mine, had told me that Sara García Iglesias, one of the teachers of her school, had been preparing a play based on a Spanish children’s book entitled Los guardianes del castillo (The Guardians of the Castle). All the teachers at my friend’s school got involved in the play and I said to my friend: «Ok, I’ll go there and make a video of it!» That was it! There I went with my videocamera to film the show and witness the love and enthusiasm with which the teachers had been working to make it happen. Then, while I was filming, I happened to know that the show was indeed a charity play to collect money for ACTAYS. An idea crossed my mind. I have a good friend, Mikhail Pochekin. He and his brother Ivan are great violinists and I said to myself: «Why not help and join ACTAYS cause by offering a charity concert?» When the play was finished, I approached Ana Mateo, a member of ACTAYS, who was among the audience. I told her about my sudden idea of organizing a charity concert to collect money for their cause. I was a little bit jumping the gun, because I hadn’t talked to my friend Mikhail Pochekin yet. As soon as I got out of the school, I called him I think he was in Salzburg at the time and told him about the idea. He didn’t doubt a second and said: «Sure! When?» And that’s how it all started. The concert took place nine months later. And it was like delivering a baby!

ACTAYS is an association founded in 2014 by Beatriz Fernández. Her two-year-old child, Isabel, had been diagnosed with a very rare and fatal neurological disease: Tay-Sachs. In order to try and find a cure for the disease, Beatriz created ACTAYS. Sadly, her child finally died, but Beatriz kept fighting for her cause. Today ACTAYS helps and provides psychological assistance to families with children who suffer from neurological diseases.

I’ll make the story short. As soon as Mikhail Pochekin came to Madrid —he lives between Salzburg, Munich, Moscow and Madrid— we had a meeting with Natalia Suárez, director of ACTAYS, and Ana Mateo to try and find the way to carry out a charity concert to promote Tay-Sachs disease awareness. We found the invaluable collaboration of Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid and Allianz Partners Spain. Mikhail and his brother Ivan Pochekin decided to donate their concert for the benefit of children with neurological diseases at pediatric Hospital del Niño Jesús in Madrid, where ACTAYS has a project. For those of you who don’t know about this project, I invite to to visit the «Teatrillo» (Little Theatre) at Hospital del Niño Jesús. There you’ll meet incredible volunteers and professionals, like Marialy Guédez (psycologist), who dedicate their time to make the life of children and their families better. Mikhail Pochekin and I collaborated in one activity there by bringing closer the music of violin to children in hospital and their parents. It was a fantastic and transformative experience!

Los hermanos Pochekin durante los ensayos. Auditorio Sony, 21 de diciembre de 2019.

The Pochekin brothers at the rehearsals. Auditorio Sony Madrid, December 21st 2019.

Then, on 21st December 2019, the concert finally took place at Auditorio Sony in Madrid. There are so many people and institutions to thank for making this happen… Starting by the Pochekin brothers —Ivan just came from Moscow for the concert and left at the following day— and Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía and Allianz Partners and all the media and people —I can’t help but mentioning Luz Orihuela from RNE and her radio program «Andante con motto»— who echoed this charity concert. Not to mention those people who attended the concert and contributed to ACTAYS cause.

When it comes down to music quality and exellence, the Pochekin brothers are a safe bet! They had prepared a program consisting of Haendel’s Passacaglia in G minor transcribed by Johan Halvorsen for viola and violin, the Duo for violin and viola in G major by Mozart, Asturias by Isaac Albéniz in a transcription for violin solo by Mikhail Pochekin, the Paganini’s Caprices Nos. 10 & 24 —Ivan Pochekin is a Paganini specialist— and the Sonata for two violins op. 56 by Sergey Prokofiev. The audience gave a great round of applause at the end and the Pochekin brothers played two encores: the beautiful and beautifully played Andante for two violins by Reinhold Glière and an arrangement of Silent Night for two violins. The audience even joined by singing!

Now that the musical baby has been delivered, we only hope that this experience will help others contribute to ACTAYS cause. We did! Now it’s your turn… Make your own story of music and alliances and make things work!

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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