We have now all returned from L'Académie Camac, the course with Germaine Lorenzini we've just held in the South of France. This has been a new project. In themselves, courses are not new for us: we sponsor many, but we had never done one like this.
More or less all courses aim to be a time for intensive study, new sources of inspiration, and a chance to focus without day-to-day distractions. They are like breaks from one kind of reality, in order to commune with another. This is the theory, but like many great ideas, it's not always so easy in practice. Courses under financial pressure have little option than to increase the number of students, and reduce the amount of lesson time. A large number of participants also almost always means sharing harps, which can be all right and can be really frustrating, depending on the ratio of students to instruments. There are many walks of life where, for all there may be a lot of pressure on you to economize, you cannot cut costs indefinitely without affecting the final result. The arts are particularly vulnerable to financial cuts because you have to invest in them, financially, in order to have riches that are profoundly valuable, but/and are not fiscal.
More than anything, we wanted our Académie be a holiday from day-to-day life, with all its conflicting demands and distractions. We wanted students to be able to come regardless of income, so we charged no fee. To facilitate intensive study, we kept the course small, and everyone had a full private lesson every day. We also had a harp and a practice room per student, so they could work peacefully without having to juggle time slots and instrument sharing.
We also wanted the course to be peaceful, because daily life in music is pressured in all sorts of ways. We decided against a compulsory formal concert at the end of the course, because this can mean you spend the whole course practicing for the course concert. Some students do however want topractice performing, so we had informal concerts before dinner every day instead, for those who who wished to play.