Twenty-five young musicians from around the world have gathered in California to train and perform this month in an international program called iPalpiti, from the Italian word for heartbeats. The training program and performance festival mark a labor of love for Russian-born conductor and musical director Eduard Schmieder, who says that music has the power to break down barriers.
The musicians come from 19 countries, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Israel and Italy, and Schmieder says that in their own way, they make the world more peaceful.
“In our orchestra,” he said, “I will not name the countries on purpose, but there are musicians from the countries which are practically — not practically — but which are at war. And they are sitting next to each other, and they become friends,” he said.
Schmieder and his wife started this program in 1997 with help from the renowned violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin.
Professional musicians whose ages range from the late teens to the 30s take part in the program. They are accomplished, Schmieder said, and include winners of major competitions.
“It’s so great that you have so many sensitive musicians,” said Peter Rainer, a violinist who serves as concertmaster, the link between the musicians and conductor. “They all are very alert and awake and listen to each other” as they work together to perfect their performances, he said.
Turkish viola player Can Sakul says the international group meshes well.
“This is home because when you make good music; it makes you feel like you’re home,” Sakul said during a break from rehearsals in Orange County, California.
This is a cultural as well as musical exchange, a Siberian violinist says.
“Here, everyone has their own opinion of music, how to play every composition,” said Russian Semyon Promoe. “It’s very interesting to interact with everybody,” he said, “to play together and to create one opinion for everybody.”
This year, the festival focuses on music from baroque to contemporary, from J. S. Bach and Franz Schubert to the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak and Russia’s Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky. Yet, this music has no geographic boundaries, says a cellist from Ecuador.
“It’s interesting to see where we intersect,” Francisco Vila said, “how many things we have in common. And also the music world … is quite small,” he added, “so you’re only one person away from knowing everyone else.”
He says that through this program, the instrumentalists get to know more about each other as they share the thrill of performing great music. Musicians who have taken part in the annual training and festival make up “a big family,” said Turkish violist Sakul, “so I’m proud to be a part of it,” he added.