Piano workshop brings international students to Bloomington

For the first time in IU history, all five Beethoven concertos will be played at one event.

The Edward Auer Summer Piano Workshop, which runs from July 17 to July 28, is an eleven day music festival where forty participants will attend master classes and perform a series of free concerts.

“Our workshop is probably very different than any of the festivals at IU,” workshop coordinator Junghwa Moon said. “It’s a lot of organizing work. It’s very international. It’s not easy to make.”

Participants come from countries such as Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan, England, Poland and New Zealand, and there’s a wide range of experience among them.

“Our youngest one is eight, and our oldest participant is over 70,” Moon said.

This year’s workshop centerpiece is a two-night performance of all five of Beethoven’s concertos which will run July 22 and 23, something program director Edward Auer and Moon said has never been done at IU.

“This kind of project could maybe happen at huge festivals, if the whole town was involved,” Moon said. “This is very ambitious, but we’re very happy and very thankful.”

Splitting the performances up between two evenings helps frame two periods of Beethoven’s creative development, Auer said.

Beethoven’s earlier written pieces are more in line with the likes of Mozart and Haydn, Auer said. Only in his later concertos did Beethoven start to break into his own artistically, Moon said.

Auer cites Beethoven’s fourth piece — with its introduction and theme coming from the piano rather than the orchestra — as a major compositional progression.

“That was revolutionary,” Auer said. “Nobody had ever done that.”

The performance portion of the festival begins July 20. One of the advantages of the workshop’s concerts is the ample opportunity to practice performance skills, Auer said.

“You never learn to play really well in front of people unless you get a lot of experience playing in front of people,” Auer said.

Auer recounted his first time attending a music festival with like-minded musicians.

“I was looked at as somebody who was really advanced in something that nobody else understood, and just a kook,” Auer said. “And at the Aspen Festival, to be walking in a hall and listening to someone whistle a piece of classical music, I felt at home.”

The workshop promotes growth and bonds in similar ways, Moon said.

“We’re hoping for people to find confidence throughout the many chances of performances,” Moon said. “We’re hoping for people to find their voice.”

It’s also about communing a feeling with someone else in a way no other artistic form can, Auer said.

“Music is an essential part of life,” Auer said. “We have to have it.”

Overall, Auer and Moon hope participants and audience will enjoy the music and performances.

“This musical experience hopefully gives you an emotional awakening you felt before but you did not quite know was there,” Moon said.

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