Skip to content
Home » All Posts » Music performance major performs in Czech Republic and gains new perspective on making music

Music performance major performs in Czech Republic and gains new perspective on making music

  • A young female inside a concert hall
  • A young female outside with a historic building in the background and a Ukrainian flag
  • A young female with a bassoon inside of a concert hall
  • A young female outside in Prague

Bassoonist Ella Hebrard ’23 spent the whole month in June/July 2022 at the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival in Czech Republic. It is a Classical Movements’ program for college-age musicians. Ella had a chance to play Mozart’s masterpieces at the very venue where his music was performed for the first time.

She describes the experience and explains how she adapted to the challenging pace of preparing for and performing several concerts while developing a new appreciation for music history.

Why I decided to participate in the program

I had been looking online for such hands-on opportunities. This one caught my eye because it was a United States-based program where I was confident people would be speaking English, but you also got to go abroad to historical places. The festival was an opportunity for college-age musicians to work together with a guidance from experienced guest artists and faculty. That seemed like something worth applying for.

Who were the students and faculty at the festival

Majority of students were from the United States and other English-speaking countries like Australia, United Kingdom and South Africa. Many faculty members were also native English speakers, but a lot of the guest artists were from various places in the Czech Republic.

Since in the Czech Republic I got to play music for audiences that don’t speak the same language as me, now I definitely understand it better why people say that music is a universal language.

What I did at the festival

This was about a month-long program. We went to the Czech Republic and stayed about half the time in a city called Tábor which is outside of Prague. The second half of the time we spent in Prague.

The students were divided into two programs, orchestra and opera. For the first half of the festival, the orchestra program was mostly working on three orchestra concerts and two chamber music concerts. We would have up to six hours of rehearsals in a day, not even counting practice time or chamber group coaching. For chamber coaching, we got assigned randomly to different groups, I was in a woodwind quintet. We had just a couple of weeks to pick a piece and learn it and then put on performances.

After our orchestra and chamber music concerts were done, we started working together with the students from the opera program. It was very fast; we only had a few rehearsals before we put on opera performances. We learned Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni.” Every night that we performed the opera, it was with a different cast to give more people the opportunity to do it. It was really awesome to see an actual working pace of putting on a production like that.

  • An orchestra concert
  • Five young musicians with instruments posing for a photo
  • An orchestra concert inside a church

At what historic places I got to perform music

I played one orchestra concert and one chamber music concert at the Divadlo Oskara Nedbala (Oskar Nedbala Theater) in Tábor, then we traveled to Jihlava where we played as part of an ongoing Gustav Mahler Festival in the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In Prague, I played chamber and orchestra concerts in the Rudolfinum, and then in the orchestra for four opera performances in the Estates Theater.

What experience was the most memorable

I think getting to play in both The Rudolfinum and the Estates Theater were two of the things that I’m really going to remember. Our opera performances were in the theater where Mozart premiered them. There is a plaque in the orchestra pit that shows where Mozart stood when he conducted them. So, getting to be in the place where they first happened was really cool. And just to see how much it means to the people who live there, how that tradition continues.

“Getting to go and see the historic places, you realize the impact they have. (…) Now I understand why we talked about these things in class.”

Pictured: A plaque commemorating Mozart in The Estates Theatre orchestra pit

How I was able to finance my trip

I am incredibly fortunate to have parents who are willing to support me, so the biggest chunk of the funding was from my parents and family. I also applied for some grants and scholarships from Pacific. I got a summer festival scholarship through my fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon and funds from the conservatory’s Michael J. Hall Scholarship. I also received some monies from Associated Students of the University of the Pacific (ASuop) Conference Funding.

Why I would encourage other students to have a similar experience

It was worth to get experience from a program that’s so fast paced and more reflective of an actual music work environment. Seeing how intense it can get, gives me a newer perspective on the way I can be moving forward from now on.

Also, it helps to be in places that are so historic, beautiful and relevant to the history of what we’re doing. For me personally, I always struggled to connect with music history classes or lectures because they just never quite resonated with me. Getting to go and see the historic places, you realize the impact they have. These places are still standing and are just as important, if not more than they were. Now I understand why we talked about these things in class.

It is also important to me that I met people from all over the United States and other countries. Now those are connections that I have and friends that I’ve made. I’m super grateful for the people I got to work with while I was there.

Learn more about Pacific’s BM in music performance degree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *