Workshop Reviews

Aston Magna’s Early Music Workshops, a collaboration with Brandeis University, are a tremendous success each year.  The Aston Magna teaching colleagues are tops in their fields, they attract highly talented students, and spirits run high.

Each workshop presents  an informal concert at week’s end, and the two professional concerts by Aston Magna musicians at Brandeis are well-attended and well-received. Student comments on the 2013 workshop series:

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with such a knowledgeable and generous faculty in such an informal setting..I thought that the “field trips” to instrument collections [Boston’s MFA and a significant private collection in Newton, Mass.) were especially worthwhile; as a player and a builder, it’s always a treat to be able to examine the originals of the instruments I play on “behind the scenes.” and talk to curators and collectors.  I thought that the laid-back atmosphere of the workshop was perfect for the sort of study of Mozart rep. we were doing, and that the number of students was just about right to have a very intense, but at the same time, easy-going week.”

Thomas Carroll
Indiana University graduate

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“I would characterize my experience as an enjoyable week for the open-minded musician to discover an in-depth view of studying classical music and its instruments. It’s really amazing how much we did in one week: a museum, collection, workshop, watched rehearsals, student concert as well as faculty concert, and of course group and private lessons”

Elise Bonhivert (clarinetist)
Seattle, WA

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“The Brandeis oboe/clarinet workshop featured small class size and was lead by world-renowned performers/teachers Stephen Hammer and Eric Hoeprich.  During the week long workshop, besides having the chance of performing in group and individual classes, I also had the chance to run through some harmoniemusik with the clarinets and basset horns. The standard of participants was high… and overall it was an excellent learning experience for me.”

Wai Kit Leung (computer programmer and avid amateur oboist)

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“I thought it was a very successful event and definitely look forward to more of this type of workshop in the future. It was great to work with a musician such as Eric Hoeprich, the foremost player/scholar of the early clarinet. Although I am a fairly seasoned player, I found his comments invaluable and feel my playing has reached a much better level with just a weeks work. In addition, it was great opportunity to work on Mozart’s clarinet quintet with Eric in the coaching sessions, and then hear him in open rehearsal and performance.

A highlight of the week were the visits to the MFA and Marlowe Segal instrument collections. Normally these instruments are not as easily available for close at hand viewing and without the Aston Magna workshop and our coaches Eric Hoeprich and Steven Hammer arranging these visits, I doubt students would have had such an opportunity to see instruments that are so important to earlier music.

The Brandeis campus provided a perfect venue for the workshop. There was ample parking and music building had excellent practice and performance facilities. It was also a much appreciated bonus to have lunch provided in the faculty club and this also was a great time to meet other students and faculty. All in all I thought it was a great week and look forward to more in the future.”

Owen Watkins, professional oboist (and clarinetist), builder of instruments, works at Von Huene Shop, Brookline MA

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“Dear Prof. Stepner

The intensity of a coaching session every day and the follow-through/consistency that this allowed was a very special opportunity and lunch time discussions ranging from Russian literature, to politics to stories from concerts near and far completed the experience. Overall I think my impressions of the week really come down to the German idea of “bildung” which you brought not only to each lesson but to the lunch table and masterclasses. Thank you for a terrific week.”

Georgia Luikens, violinist (Australian, presently a grad student in musicology at Brandeis)

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“Dear Mr. Stepner,

I want to thank you for a terrific week as well. It was a great learning experience, and your teaching was very inspiring. Here is my publicity sentence: “Mr. Stepner is a gifted and inspiring teacher, and Brandeis has excellent facilities for music making.”

Thanks again and best wishes-“
Kurt Mundstedt, violinist, Cleveland Institute of Music.

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“The workshop was as great as usual, and I think this is the first time I felt that 3 hours of practising wasn’t enough to do all I wanted.  The group was extremely involved and serious, and the trip to the MFA was enjoyable for everyone, since we got to play the violins longer than the previous trips.”

Daniel Ko, violinist (junior at Lexington High (Belmont High?)

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“I learned a great deal at the Bach week at Brandeis; with the help of Professor Stepner, I was able to come to a deeper understanding of Bach’s music, how to perform and interpret Bach’s solo violin works, and about the musical landscape that Bach composed in.  It was a special treat to have intense one-on-one lessons with Prof. Stepner where I studied everything from the dynamics of voicing, the drama of harmonic phrasing, and chromatic fingerings especially helpful for solo Bach, to bowings and small technical points that can make a performance stylistically convincing, energized and unified as an entity.  After working with Professor Stepner, I found how to have both lucidity and passion when interpreting the solo violin music.  He helped me approach this music intelligently with active hearing and real understanding.  I highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to improve his/her understanding and performance of Bach’s solo violin music.”

Lisa Park (Student of Roman Totenberg)

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“I was so fortunate to have participated in the Bach workshop; it yielded so many wonderful things!  A few off of the top of my head were: (1) a musician’s atmosphere which provides great focus and and a common goal among the violinists, (2) daily advice from a world-class violinist, Professor Stepner, in a variety of different contexts, and (3) comfortable performance experiences. I would very much like to participate in the program again next year!”

Kevin Powell, Vassar College, Class of 2012