September 19, 2007 at 12:35 AMFor twenty three summers, I have walked up the red brick sidewalk leading to my studio at ENCORE School for Strings in Hudson, Ohio. This summer was no different--except that the school's directors, Linda and David Cerone have announced their retirement, and the school, whose very name is an anagram of their own, may retire with them.
As I taught last summer, fully aware of the situation, I was constantly reminded of twenty- three years of string-playing history which happened there. Unforgettable!
Of the thousands (yes, thousands) of students who came to ENCORE over the years, Hilary Hahn, Leila Josefowicz, Robert Chen, Soovin Kim, Sheryl Staples, and many others of great accomplishment spring to mind. They performed in the sweltering heat of the Chapel at Western Reserve Academy,earning their stripes on one of the hardest stages on which to play in the world. There were performances which left the audience stunned and speechless, such as Hilary Hahn's Bernstein Serenade with pianist Anita Pontremoli and Leila Josefowicz' Paganini Concerto (at age 12), but these were only a couple out of the hundreds and hundreds of positively first-rate performances we heard given by ENCORE students over the years. Truly, there were so many amazing concert moments at ENCORE, it would take hours to tell about them all.
I also cannot help but remember the hours and hours and hours (and then some) of intense teaching in my very hot little studio. I can only hope that those inumerable hours have in some way had a positive impact on the world. That sort of thing cannot be easily measured... but one can hope.
I think of my teaching colleagues (the same ones who sat across the table from me every day at lunch for 23 years!) They are the finest teachers I know. The real deal. It has been an honor to be among them.
I remember too, the ones who are no longer with us. Who could forget Jascha Brodsky slamming his tray down at the table one afternoon, exclaiming: "Mothers!"? (In his 80's, he was still dealing with difficult stage mothers!) Also, his stories of Ysaye, Prokoffiev, Rachmaninoff and other musical luminaries he had known in his long career educated and entertained us for many years. Mostly, I remember his great integrity and humility as a person- (after being congratulated on a particularly wonderful performance of his student Hilary Hahn: "I didn't do it---God did it.")
I remember the food. I remember the energy and ambition. I remember the laughter of colleagues and their funny stories at the dinner table.I remember Landy Cole's chuckle during countless dinners. I remember the sounds of practicing coming from every window--- and I try not to think about what it will be like when it is silent.Some things are unthinkable.
If ENCORE ends,summer will be different for all of us who have fed it and been fed by it for nearly a quarter century. Though, I suppose that eventually every concert ends ... but even then... there is at least the hope of another ENCORE.
Will it be? Only time will tell.
I also remember VERY fondly eating way more ice cream than I should have at Saywells, food fights in the dining hall, an incredible performance of Shostakovich 8, and reading Gone with the Wind in a tree I liked to climb.
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