This week I was privileged to watch ten Juilliard artist faculty perform at Collège du Léman in Switzerland. It was extraordinary. I took my two sons, ages six and eight, and expected endless fidgeting. I should not have worried, the children were wide eyed (and eared) as some of the world’s leading performers brought the performing arts to life just in front of us.
After days of sunshine, the rain poured down, creating a stormy and stunning backdrop for Collège du Léman’s Eiger Auditorium. Students, parents, community and staff joined us for one of the highlights of the inaugural two-week Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard.
The programme opened with outstanding performances by Annaliesa Place on violin and Diego Garcia on cello playing Halvorsen’s Passacaglia.
Hüe’s Fantasia pour Flûte et Piano followed with performances by Emi Ferguson on flute and Jessica Chow Shinn on piano. Their performances were beautiful and refined, and I was fascinated by how their facial expressions and body language reflected the passion with which they played.
The counter-tenor voices of Tim Keeler and mezzo-soprano of Rachel Calloway were remarkable. Their performance mesmerised my six-year-old son, Milo, who watched on admiringly. The performance of Ravel’s Chanson Madécasses engaged the audience by first describing the wider story being told by the music and presenting the entry of different characters.
One of the highlights for me was seeing the reaction of the students attending the Summer Performing Arts programme. There were intakes of breaths, cheers and stunned silence in equal measures. Ryan Casey’s tap performance and Megan Williams’ amazing Bijoux dance, choreographed by Mark Morris, awed students as they stood out of their seats to get closer to their teachers in action. In between performances I enjoyed hearing some of the students behind me whispering about the best bits of each performance.
We closed with an ensemble and a fabulous finale leaving the audience wanting to hear more. As all the performers came back on stage to take a bow, with big smiles and one or two of their own little children, I think we all felt that we had seen and heard something very special.
After the performances we were treated to an excellent reception with cocktails and canapes by Collège du Léman. We personally thanked the musicians and artists for their inspirational performances.
As I said my goodbyes, I looked back into the now empty auditorium to see two of our students at the grand piano, emulating the exceptional performers they had just seen. This is what the evening was all about – inspiring students to be curious, creative and to continually broaden their horizons.
Rob Breare, a UK native, relocated to Geneva from Dubai, this summer. His two sons, Milo and Theo, age 6 and 8 respectively, will attend Collège du Léman this fall.
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