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Performance Collaborative Masterclass 2015

March 25,2015

Last 23 February 2015, a cloudy Monday afternoon, the Piano Department of the St. Scholastica’s College School of Music organized a Piano Collaboration Master Class.  It was held at the School’s Board Room, with Prof. Greg Zuniega conducting the Master Class. Five groups were featured in the session, each of which included a piano student. It was a great opportunity for students to realize the unique challenges that chamber and collaborative performances entail.  First of all, collaborative performances require each individual member of the team to practice well his or her part, so as not to waste the team’s time during joint rehearsals.  Secondly, and perhaps an equally-important realization, was the fact that such works and performances require mutual respect for collaborating artists, expressed in the balance of sound created, where at important points indicated by the composer or suggested by the music itself, no one artist overpowers another.

Truly, collaborative musical performances train musicians to level-up one’s skills to that of the more adept members of the group, yet requiring all members a modicum of humility and team work: there is no prima donna, or dominant star. All have an important role.  And lastly, clean playing is required.  There is no way you can pause and repeat a phrase or musical line, because this will disrupt the performances of the team mates.  In the meantime, playing the wrong note (or not playing the notes at all) can be discerned, because the player cannot hide behind a massive orchestra.

As one who participated in the master class, I must say that I have enjoyed it and learned a lot. Prof. Zuniega had a keen ear, sensitive musicality, and a balance of straightforwardness and diplomacy in providing corrective inputs to improve our performance. 

Kudos to the Piano Department Chair Moonette Manrique, to the Associate Dean Ramona Balingcos, and Dean Sr. Mary Placid Abejo for organizing and allowing such an enriching session.  There should be more of these in future!