This summer I had the pleasure of being a student of baroque viola at the Casa da Mateus International Course. I flew all the way from the United States for the course and I could not have had more excellent instruction nor a better environment for studying baroque music elsewhere. I had the opportunity to take masterclass with eminent violinist Enrico Gatti every morning, and my playing improved and became much more comfortable and expressive. He shared with us a year’s worth of knowledge about historical style and sources in one week. I also enjoyed rehearsing chamber music with the other students. It was invigorating and inspiring to get to know and play music with these people from Portugal, Australia, Bulgaria, Austria…I know that we will stay friends and most likely meet again, either playing concerts together, or next year at Casa da Mateus! The house and gardens of Casa da Mateus are breathtakingly beautiful, and to hear the sound of baroque music wafting over them all week enhanced the historical atmosphere that has been so well-preserved. I love that tourists were able to peek in at our rehearsals, and the enthusiastic audience members (especially the young families) at the free concerts we performed were gratifying to play for. This course helps to highlight the rich and old history Portugal has – for those international students coming from abroad – and is also a priceless opportunity close to home for the talented young baroque musicians from Portugal to continue their study in the summer and to hear from new people and influences. I am excited to see how it will grow, and particularly grateful to Ricardo Bernardes and Antonio Carrilho for their leadership.
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