Roberto Díaz, Chilean violinist, president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music, will be in Chile the next June 27 at Municipal of Santiago as a part of the program Curtis on Tour, which will be presented as an Extraordinary Show.
This time he will be along with the pianist George Xiaoyuan Fu and the clarinetist Tania Villasuso, both of them ex-students of the institution and are members of the tour in order to “lerning by doing”, one of the main features of Curtis Institute of Music. Here below, Roberto tells us more about Curtis Institute of Music and the tour that they are doing.
¿How did the opportunity to come to Chile come up?
The opportunity to come to Chile came up from a wonderful invitation from the Municipal Theater of Santiago to play the Concert for Viola by Roberto Sierra with Max Valdés and the Philharmonic Orchestra. When the Municipal Theater learned that we were planning to do a Curtis on Tour to South America in the same period, they decided to include Curtis on Tour in the cycle of Extraordinary Shows. Needless to say, we are extremely grateful for the Municipal Theater for these opportunities to play on its prestigious stage.
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How was the reception of the program in the countries you have been?
So far, the tour has only included concerts in the United States. This experience was magnificent because it is a program with a very interesting repertoire of great composers for a combination of instruments that is not often heard. I write this while we are on our way to Mexico City, where we will play the trio program tomorrow night, and I will perform the Sierra Viola Concert on Sunday. The National Autonomous University of Mexico has a wonderful cycle of chamber music and orchestral concerts at the Sala Nezahualcóyotl. Curtis on Tour has played there many times. They have a large and extremely enthusiastic audience of chamber music and orchestral music.
In what way do you manage the program ?, that is, do you decide it together with the students?
Curtis on Tour programs are defined first by instrumentation and then the repertoire is selected. The interpretation teachers of the Curtis Institute of Music then select the participants of the tour.
The learning gained by understanding the evolution of an interpretation over numerous presentations in scenarios that may be completely different each night is not something that can be taught in a classroom. Certain experiences need to be “lived”
Experientially, how has it been for the students to participate in this tour?
Our tours are planned and conducted in the same way as tours of professional ensembles. Curtis on Tour provides the experience of touring the real world to students and recent graduates of Curtis who play alongside distinguished artists, both teachers and graduated of Curtis. On this tour, I’m the teacher and I share the stage with Tania Villasuso, who graduated from Curtis last month, and George Fu, who graduated three years ago and continues his studies in London.
What has been your impression about the progress of the program from entry to exit?
In the last 12 years, more or less, Curtis has evolved in many ways. The fundamental experience of teaching has remained the center of the program, giving students unlimited access to highly personalized instruction. The student-teacher ratio (a staff of 115 members for 170 students) distinguishes Curtis from any other higher education institution in the world. Having said that, we have created programs such as Curtis on Tour that have provided a completely new set of experiences for our students. One of our core values is “learning by doing”, which is at the center of the Curtis on Tour experience. The learning gained by understanding the evolution of an interpretation over numerous presentations in scenarios that may be completely different each night is not something that can be taught in a classroom. Certain experiences need to be “lived”. As a result, our students graduate having had a tremendous amount of diverse experiences on stage through the Curtis programs.
Another area that we have focused on and that is very important for us is to explore the role and responsibilities of the artist in the community. To do this, we have developed several programs that provide our students with first-hand experience in the creation and development of musical activities that benefit students and families in the community who do not have access or regular contact with the arts. In this way, they become great promoters of this art form and of themselves.