The Violin Channel recently caught up with Ludovica Punzi and John Holloway - Founders of the Vivace Matera Festival.
Please tell us about the Vivace Matera Festival. What was your mission for starting this new international event and what was your connection to Matera - Italy’s oldest town?
“Vivace serves a dual mission: one, to create dynamic and innovative learning experiences for aspiring musicians, regardless of their financial resources and two, to present world-class concerts and events for music lovers from around the globe.''
“Matera is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We considered many locations for Vivace, and in Matera, we found a conservatory with amazing facilities and a supportive community hungry for great music. It's a magical place - very fitting for the music we are all creating together''
How does Vivace differ to other summer festival programmes and academies and what special initiatives do you have in place?
“The in-person version of Vivace is unique in that every participant has the opportunity to perform a concerto with our resident professional orchestra. It's an intense two weeks and participants are surrounded by art and history in Matera's culture-rich museums, landscape and concert halls. Due to the pandemic, we shifted to an online debut for Vivace, and are eagerly awaiting our Materan debut in July 2021''
What are the highlights of this year’s programme and what are you most looking forward to?
“We have to start with our world-class faculty. We have more than 50 faculty artists joining us from the most renowned conservatories and concert halls. Our programming is extensive and unique - from more than 750 master classes and courses to interactive discussions exploring legendary recordings. One of our series of courses, Listening Together, allows individual faculty members to talk about their musical heroes and what shaped them musically. There is something special about Ida Kavafian discussing her experience studying the Rode Caprices with Oscar Shumsky; Miriam Fried talking about her life's work with the Bach Sonatas and Partitas; and Alisa Weilerstein and Osvaldo Golijov team-teaching a master class on Golijov's Omaramor. We don't always find time for these types of discussions in conservatories and "regular" summer music festivals. In some ways, social distancing provides opportunites for more intense and specialized learning.''
“We're thrilled to be able to partner with the Violin Channel, Sound Bridges International Company and the American Viola Society''
Considering the difficult situation with COVID19, you moved everything online very efficiently. Can you tell us about this process and how you managed to adapt so quickly?
“In February/March when everything shut down, we felt like our industry as a whole settled for less than a great level when it came to online sound. With the right equipment and preparation, students CAN sound great and get a lot of out of online lessons. We developed a plan to change the perception of online lessons, and we have been able to create a unique learning opportunity. All Vivace participants receive a Blue Yeti microphone and extensive audio training before the festival and everyone can hear the difference. Come see for yourself!''
“From an audience standpoint, the ability to watch master classes from home provides a special environment. The second you hear something intriguing from a teaching artist, you can immediately try it out at home in real time. In-person master classes do not provide this opportunity"
How important to you is art in this time of COVID19?
“Our goal is to improve the lives of music lovers - students, faculty and fans. We felt an obligation to create an opportunity for people to connect with each other, to make great music and to work. Personally, when we made the decision to move Vivace to an online festival, it changed our lives. Quarantine felt different. We were working intensely every day, and doing what we love most: contributing to the creation of world-class art and developing the next generation of music leaders.''
What initiatives do you have in place to support artists in time of COVID19?
“Vivace, despite the pandemic, has been able to create opportunities for our faculty artists to work and be compensated for their work, and has created inspiring educational opportunties for more than 150 students and 100 auditors. We have also created the Vivace Scholarship Fund, which makes it possible for many students to attend the festival''
If we want to view some of the festival online, how should we go about this?
“Concerts and master classes are collaborations between the performers and the audience. For those interested in being part of our Vivace audience, you can purchase the Vivace Passport for full access to all events of one of our festivals ($250), a day pass to all events for a specific day ($50) or a single-event pass ($20). All information is available on our website at e.vivacematera.com. These are family prices - we hope everyone will gather around their TVs and computers and engage with us.''
“While we originally considered offering free access to our concerts and events, music is valuable and worth paying for. As arts organizations around the world turn to online delivery of their content, it is essential that we stand together in charging admission to these concerts and events. When organizations and musicians devalue their productions by offering concerts, operas, talks/discussions, master classes and events for free, it sets a dangerous precedent for the future of classical music and a contradictory message to the students we are training''