If you’re looking for a place to hang out with some pretty famous composers, polish off your latest  music project and hear it played in a historic venue by professional musicians in front of a real audience, make new friends and music world connections, win a composition prize, and maybe even meet the girl or boy of your dreams (or bring them along if you already have), I have a suggestion for you:  Pavia.  Located a mere 35 clicks from the Milan airport, the ancient university town (pop. 70,000, 20,000 of them students) in northern Italy’s Lombardy region will host its annual highSCORE Contemporary Music Festival and Master Classes from July 6-18 and if you’re a composer and your music project is accepted, you can be there…for the price of about 20 minutes at Yale.

The highSCORE Festival is the brainchild of a 28-year-old composer and mathematical music theorist Giovanni Albini, who serves as Artistic Director, and his 30-year-old business partner, Paolo Fosso, computer scientist, musician, and marketer par excellence, who is Executive Producer.   I spoke to Albini last night via Skype and he was very excited about this year’s program.

“The idea is to bring together a group of talented young composers and have them work closely with our renowned faculty and special guests for two intense weeks of masterclasses, lectures, workshops and concerts,” Albini says. “Performances of the participants’ music during the festival are presented at cultural and historical sites throughout Pavia, such as the famous church of St. Peter in the Golden Sky where St. Augustine and Boetius are buried. We work directly with the F. Vittadini” Higher Institute of Music Studies, which is located here, and has 20 plus large, well-equipped rooms with Vertical and Grand Pianos that we use.”

This year’s faculty includes Giya Kancheli, who is guest of honor, dean of faculty Christopher Theofanidis, Mario Garuti, Paul Glass, Ugo Nastrucci, Ingrid Pustijanac, and Amy Beth Kirsten, who told me last night that she is “thrilled” to be part of the program.

“This is wonderful opportunity to be part of growing community of composers who have shared the highSCORE Festival experience and come away with a real sense of achievement and optimism about their futures in music,” she says.

All of the details you’ll need if you’re interested are on the Festival’s sharp new website.  Deadline for applications is April 8. For the 2011 edition you can submit music for:

> string quartet with or without electronics
> solo guitar (classical, acoustic or electric) with or without electronics
> solo double-bass or electric bass with or without electronics

“You don’t have to write something between now and April 8,” Albini adds. “You can submit something you’ve already finished and some sketches of what you plan to do in Pavia in July.”

One Response to “The Discrete Musical Charms of Pavia”
  1. Jeremy Vaughan says:

    I took part in the Highscore Festival last year and I wanted to share some impressions. There were several factors that attracted me. The chance to meet and learn from several leading composers (Theofanidis and Moravec) was a big draw for me (and of course, the chance to enjoy all of this in the beautiful and historic city of Pavia!). Also, the opportunity to get to share my music with the other participants and also hear about their work was a highlight of the Festival. These masterclasses, which were one of the central focuses of the Festival and lead by Theofanidis and Moravec, were always lively and engaging discussions. Having the chance to discuss other people’s work and their compositional process (and how they approach problems in their own work) is always quite enlightening. With the lectures from visiting guests, we had the chance to hear about topics that may be less common (such as the use of early instruments in contemporary music or contemporary Italian music). The several weeks of wonderful exchange in these masterclasses and lectures lead to concerts that featured our works that had been written for the festival.

    The Festival itself was very well organized and full of great opportunities for meeting new faces and new approaches to composition.(And of course, one cannot forget all of the wonderful food!)

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