The Adam Summer School is a chamber music summer programme for young musicians. It runs for eight days, and takes place in Nelson, New Zealand, and the teaching faculty are the New Zealand String Quartet (quartet in residence at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington) and pianist Diedre Irons. Up to 30 applicants are accepted and placed into groups, or come in a pre-formed ensemble, and work intensively on a great chamber work, receiving a 2-hour coaching from one of the tutors each day. Each group plays in two masterclasses with all of the tutors present, and has ample time and suitable venues provided for rehearsal each day. Added bonuses include individual lessons with relevant instrumental teachers, and, if interest dictates, a morning tai-chi class with first violinist of the NZSQ, Helene Pohl.
During the week all of the musicians are lodged at Tasman Bay Backpackers – cozy, comfortable, and within walking distance of the Nelson School of Music, where many of the events take place – and all meals are catered for (dietary restrictions included!). The last day of the programme consists of two concerts, afternoon and evening, and these concerts represent what is possibly the highest level of young-musician-chamber-music-making in New Zealand each year.
In 2015 I participated in the course in a group with six other musicians (Annabel Drummond and Laura Barton, violins, myself and Vincent Hardaker, violas, Anna-marie Alloway and Jack Hobbs, cellos, and Louis van der Mespel, bass), and we played the septet version of Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen.
Thinking back on that experience even now, a year later and having attended other festivals overseas, it amazes me what the Adam Summer School has been able to offer to so many musicians. The cost to the students attending is so incredibly reasonable for all that is provided, and often subsidised by scholarships from sponsors. The tuition students receive is so in-depth and so personalised – one of the NZSQ’s real strengths. The stress of the musical demands is well-balanced by not having to worry about everyday life issues like meals and transport, and the easygoing location of sunny Nelson. Because of this, a real musical hot-house is created. Every musician attending, encouraged by their peers and tutors, has an increased desire to personally excel, and excel within their groups, supporting and being supported by each other. And as mentioned before, the standard of the performances concluding the summer school is so high, beyond expectations, (as Nelson audiences are able to attest!) due to each and every component of this programme. It truly is an inspiring (and – dare I say – fun!) eight days of the year.
So – it goes almost without saying that I highly recommend the Adam Summer School to any New Zealand or Australian musicians, and wish everyone involved the utmost success in the years to come.