Going back to Sweden again this month was another wonderful experience which I enjoyed as much as my trip in March, if not more so. I love the openness that I came across with the players I worked with from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra along with singers from the Swedish Radio Choir. I gave a talk-masterclass at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm as well and was impressed that the Principal of the college came to my full two-hour class. This is something I have never experienced at any music college, in the UK or elsewhere, so it felt good! In fact, it was almost overwhelming to receive the degree of appreciation I received when I was out there. I feel more valued in Scandinavia than in almost anywhere else in the world that I have worked: they get my vision, what I am doing, and they want me to go back.
World Federation of International Music Competitions: General Assembly
It was lovely to be invited to give a talk at the WFIMC General Assembly, held in Norrkoping, just outside Stockholm during the same week in early May. It was a two-day conference which was packed with directors of international competitions from right across the world. My talk, The Human behind the Performer: how to enable musicians to give of their best in competitions was well received.
During the panel discussion afterwards, there was a lot of talk about the changes that could be made to support competitors, such as bringing in massage therapists along with programmes of mentorship, both afterwards for prize-winners and also during the competition itself. I suggested that a mentor during the competition could, in theory, be on call for competitors who are struggling with nerves, tension, homesickness or anything else; they could be the person who makes the connection between the competitor and the administration, host families and if necessary, the jury. They would always be un-biased and any sessions would be strictly confidential. The same mentor could also offer a talk to the audience or masterclasses depending on the competition.
The directors of the competitions were very friendly and open with enormous enthusiasm for any new ideas that they felt would be of benefit to the competitors. It feels as if the competitions are noticeably eradicating the reputation that they have had in the past, of not being a very sympathetic or supportive environment in which to make music.