Israelievitch master class gives students another perspective on performances



Jacques Israelievitch, strings chair in Chautauqua Music Festival’s Instrumental Program, will host a violin master class at 2 p.m. today in McKnight Hall. Five students will each play one piece and he will critique their performances. Israelievitch said he hopes to open a dialogue between himself and the students so that they can have a new perspective on the pieces.

“Sometimes it’s not even a matter of improving things,” he said, “but having perhaps a second opinion on how to do it.”

He will also discuss the students’ performance styles and how they chose to interpret the composers’ works.

“Each composer comes from a different background, a different period of music,” Israelievitch said. “Sometimes there are big differences between styles in these composers, and we want to bring out certain things that are special to the composer, be it humor or pathos, depending on personality.”

Israelievitch compared the way musicians used to learn pieces to the way they do now. Prior to recording technology, musicians had only their teachers and the written music to help them in the interpretation of a piece. Instead of relying on a recording that someone else had already interpreted in his or her own way, this allowed musicians to focus on what the music itself could mean.

“Often students will just listen to recordings and imitate what they hear,” he said. “My advice is to hold off on listening to recordings, try to determine what you think the music says to you when you just read it and try to develop an interpretation from that.”

Master classes allow students to receive feedback on their work without going through the formalities of a recital. When hosting a master class, Israelievitch said, he tries to give advice that is helpful not only to the student performing but also to other students who may be struggling with the same issues.

“A master class is semipublic and informal,” he said. “It’s not really like a concert; it’s a performance, but it’s also a working session. So you don’t expect it to be completely perfect. If it’s so perfect, then what is there to talk about?”