August 20, 2001
Each year during the Master Musician Fellowship Program, the foundation brought together the master performers and apprentices in its music program for a three-day Summer Music Institute. In 2001, the gathering took place August 16-18 at the Colburn School for Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles, a premier performance and teaching facility.
The Institute offered participants an opportunity for master classes, jam sessions and discussion on a host of topics, ranging from a survey of the musical instruments and traditions represented among the group, to the challenges of teaching or learning an intricate musical craft.
One purpose of the Institute was to create a common bond among a group of artists who are otherwise engaged in a solitary occupation – the study of music. It takes a very long time to master an instrument, and so, too, immense patience and dedication. As the apprentices pursued their weekly study with the master artists, and continued their daily practice alone – in unheated garages, in apartments next to unforgiving neighbors, in rented studios far from home – the Institute offered them a community of colleagues, who in turn might churn up enough energy and inspiration to persevere. Sometimes it helps to know you’re not alone!
Another purpose of the Institute was to enrich the musicians’ exploration of their craft by illuminating the often-surprising parallels among traditions from many parts of the globe. In 2001, the Institute represented a fantastic array of music from Cuba, Guinea, India, the Philippines, China, Okinawa, Iran, Peru, Japan, Cambodia and the U.S. The Institute’s schedule alternated between panel discussions, master classes and keynote speakers. As you will see from the agenda, the panels were organized around clusters of like-instruments, and each panel was led by a special guest moderator who asked such questions as: Where does your instrument come from? How old is this tradition? Is the music religious or secular? What is the context in which it is usually performed? What do you wear for a performance? How should the performance area be arranged or decorated? Can anyone study this music? How do you learn it? Who taught you? Can you demonstrate what it sounds like?
The experience and sounds of the exchange were magic. The following photographs and sound excerpts will let you share briefly in the experience. Enjoy.