Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Yael Senamaud-Cohen's Catacoustic Grant Report: Oberlin's Baroque Performance Institute

Yael Senamaud-Cohen is a professional modern and baroque violist and violinist, based in Cincinnati. She has played with Catacoustic, as well as numerous other ensembles throughout the world. She was one of two recipients of last year's Catacoustic grant award. We are thrilled to have Yael here in Cincinnati and that she continues to deepen her understanding of early music performance practice.

I felt privileged and honored to receive the Catacoustic Consort Grant to participate at the Baroque Performance Institute in Oberlin, Ohio. It was an enriching experience for me to meet the incredible faculty and to play with other dedicated musicians. They are so highly committed to baroque music, performance, and teaching with the most integrity, historical context, and deep knowledge. 

I started the day with viola da gamba group class. Then on to violin... We were a large group of violinists (about 40) divided in two groups for the masterclasses of the 3 violin faculty. It was interesting to start the day with a bow technique class that focused on differences with modern playing. During the masterclasses, I was impressed by the level of knowledge and stylistic nuance. The teachers suggested how to play each baroque composer. I was able to play some German, Italian, and French music: each requires a different technique to serve the style. Marilyn MacDonald was great at communicating how to play the French ornaments so they sound like embellishments and not technical difficulties. Cynthia Roberts has a way to set you up on the instrument in a natural way and infuse her knowledge through the bow to find expression in the sound. In the afternoon we rehearsed chamber music, an element of the program that presented yet another occasion to deepen our musicianship in ensemble. It was then followed by baroque dance with Julie Andrijewski, an amazing performer and dancer. This part of the program most certainly enhanced my understanding of dances in baroque music. I now think baroque dance should be taught with the instrument so that we may once again reproduce the character of the music. Following dance class, we played in orchestra to prepare the concert for the end of the week. We ended the day practicing or listening to the faculty rehearsing or performing. It was an amazing experience to share my passion for early music with people from all backgrounds and in all different sized-groups, from one to sixty.

This total immersion program has really made a big impact on me and deepened my understanding of baroque music. I cannot wait to participate in other festivals or workshops and perform more and more. I would love to do be able to do so in Cincinnati.