Friday, February 25, 2011

oh em double-you pee ayh (OMWPA XD) - Overseas Malaysian Winter Piano Academy

OMWPA was amazing.

During the camp, we were privileged to attend masterclasses with four highly
qualified professors; Mikhail Kazakevich, Andrew Ball, Murray McLachlan
and Bobby Chen himself. We got to sit in to each other's masterclasses
as well as attend composition, chamber, improvisation and piano
mechanics workshops delivered by Dr. Stephen Goss, Dr. Cheryl
Frances-Hoad, Professor Michael Dussek, Douglas Finch and John-Paul
Williams respectively. Most nights there were performances given by
talented musicians including Martin Fogel, Simon Callaghan, Andrew Ball,
Doulgas Finch and Murray McLachlan.

At night we all got together for an activity not listed in our handbooks -
“Common-rooming”. This was a time when we gathered in the common room
to watch TV, chit-chat, play pool, eat the delicious food that Bobby and
ZiWei so kindly bought for us or just relax.

An unforeseen, but much hoped for (at least by me) event was snow!
Snowball fights, snow angels, snowmen, even just waking up to the snow
covered grounds was amazing. Interestingly enough, it seemed that we
Malaysians had brought the snow with us, as when we arrived the school
grounds were still in their late Autumn/early Winter phase. As the days
progressed, the weather got colder and colder and the grass became increasingly frosty, until
midway through the course (on the day that we had London outing), we
returned from a snow-covered London to an even more snow-covered Cobham.

We were ecstatic. Most of us had never seen snow before (“Well, real snow
lah”, we’d say. “I’ve seen snow in Singapore only.”) and suddenly we
more snow then we had ever dreamed of. There is nothing else like being
snowballed in the face or making snowmen, and some of us found out why
that’s probably not a good idea when we got sick. Indeed almost all of
us seemed to have gotten sick, if not there then when we got back home.

Luckily, we had extra healthy food on hand. Yehudi Menuhin was a very healthy
person, and his lifestyle influenced his school cafeteria is nothing
else. Meals were generally salt free, sugar free, fat reduced and
sometimes taste free. The popularity of the food varied day by day, chef
by chef and the people you asked. Maggi Mee was a relief for some,
while for others it was chocolate or bananas.

While the food kept us healthy, we unfortunately had no form of exercise
besides the snowball fights. Though there was an indoor swimming pool,
no one brought their swim suits, so the pool was sadly underused. Next
to the swimming pool was the Menuhin Hall, which was built after its
namesakes death. A warm, cosy and acoustically brilliant hall, we were
excited to perform in it at the end of the course in the gala concert.
What made it even more special, was knowing that Lord Menuhin and his
wife Dianna’s graves were right next door to the hall.

the masterclasses, workshops etc, the whole atmosphere was the great
learning experience. From as early as 6am in the morning to 11pm at
night, people would be practising on the pianos in their rooms, in the
hallways or in the numerous music studios throughout the school. Walking
through the hallways hearing piano music 24/7 was magical, though near
the end, it was a treat for your ears to hear the sound of a violin,
cello, flute or just silence.

Perhaps it was the atmosphere, or the snow, or the wonderful
non-competitiveness of the course, but by the time it was time to go,
everyone was like one big family. As we sang in the song we composed
especially for Bobby and the OMWPA;

“Some experiences last a lifetime, this one surely will,
We're all together in the Menuhin School,
Some experiences last a lifetime, treasure it all our lives,
We thank you Bobby with all our hearts.

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