Internationally renowned violist Jerzy Kosmala participated in the second Faculty Master Class last Monday as part of an inaugural series of events organized by the UC Irvine Music Department. Students performed pieces from some of classical music’s greatest composers to a diverse audience of professors, students and community members.
Students who participate in the Master Class form groups at the beginning of each quarter. On Monday, they performed various movements of ensemble pieces by historically celebrated composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn, Antonín Dvořák and Béla Bartók, whose works span from the Classic to Romantic periods and on to the 20th century of musical artistry. Performing and receiving critiques from their peers and the professor of the class, Dr. Margaret Parkins, the students were polite and receptive to Kosmala’s added words of wisdom.
Kosmala thoughtfully followed along with his own copy of the first piece by Mozart. Listening to a trio of clarinet, piano and viola, Kosmala sat in the front row swaying to the allegro phrases, nodding to every forte and punctuating trills. His own viola and bow rested against him as he sat, aware of every glossed-over rest and every dotted note unnoticed.
“Mozart is a difficult composer. Every note counts,” Kosmala said after the first trio’s performance.
As associate chair for performance and a member of the piano faculty, Professor Nina Scolnik served as a host and organizer of the event. After approaching Music Department Chair and Professor David Brodbeck in August with a proposal for the idea of a Master Class, Scolnik’s idea was received with steadfast support. Scolnik believes that it is with the Faculty Master Class Series that students are given an opportunity to receive direction, advice and criticism from some of the most musically artistic minds within the department.
“There is a tradition, as at most universities and music schools of bringing in outside guests to give master classes,” Scolnik said. “Naturally, these are costly, but their value to students and faculty is immeasurable. Master classes have always formed an integral part of our program at UCI, exposing students to a wide range of artists, some of whom often return to hear our students year after year.”
Kosmala is one such artist with a multitude of compositions to his name. Known throughout the world as a celebrated concert and recording artist, his performances in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, Canada and the Americas have famously spread his name throughout the music world. As a guest artist, performer and professor at festivals, universities and academies, Kosmala has shown the world his abilities and has garnered respect and reverence.
As Kosmala’s distinguished roster of accomplishments have spanned throughout a spectrum of global and local success, being at the Faculty Master Class made it a signature event.
A graduate of the Krakow Academy of Music, Eastman School of Music and Indiana University, Kosmala is currently part of the faculty at UCI. His presence in the classroom during the Faculty Master Class garnered the utmost respect not only from students, but from patrons who are already aware of his reputation in the music world.
“Even before our current budget crisis,” Scolnik said, “it occurred to me that among our own artist faculty — who themselves have distinguished careers as performers and teachers throughout the world — we had master teachers whose gifts and talents could be utilized and shared more broadly.”
Students in the ensembles showcased the brilliance of Mozart, the simultaneous melancholy and hopefulness of Mendelssohn, Dvořák’s tender and vicious work and the unsettling mastery of Bartók’s composition. Under the critical ear of a celebrity musician, there were eager eyes and ears ready to absorb knowledge and take their work to the next level of musical performance.