The 33rd International Summer Academy of the mdw

With its 2023 theme of “We and Me”, the international exchange at this year’s isa will focus on the tension between the individual and the collective, between the personal and the communal. isa23 is taking a deeper look at music’s social components: at its unifying power, at its enormous potential as a vehicle of universal understanding, and at its positive influence on every single one of us in developing our personalities as well as our professional careers.
© Andrej Grilc

A wide range of formats will invite us to explore possible approaches and modes of work that enable the tension between the individual and the collective to be experienced as a mutually inspiring challenge. And in this, “We and Me” is key!

To my mind, making music together with others embodies the best possible school of life: it’s taught me that the most important form of discipline is self-discipline, and that in an ensemble, we change not our partners but only ever ourselves.

Johannes Meissl, Vice Rector, mdw and Artistic Director, isa

A team of internationally renowned tutors is gearing up to help unleash creative energies in the master classes and workshops. The isaFestival’s approximately 30 concerts, held in history-steeped venues nestled amidst the Vienna Alps, will provide an ideal setting in which to expand isa’s lived community by an eager audience. And under the heading of “Water – Sounds from the Source of Life”, Dietmar Flosdorf and his team from the mdw’s Department of Music Education Research, Music Didactics and Elementary Music Education will conduct a community and audience engagement project to mark the 150th birthday of Vienna’s first mountain spring water pipeline, inviting especially people from the region to participate and share in isa’s creative explorations.

© Andrej Grilc

The international and interdisciplinary academic conference isaScience, scheduled to take place directly following the artistic Summer Academy and with its 2023 title of “Sonic Ties: Rethinking Communities and Collectives”, will shed light on the questions raised by isa23’s theme from various sociological, cultural-economic, and cultural policy perspectives.

It’s the ‘We’ that enables us to broaden the scope of our individual abilities and efforts. In the ‘We’, music manifests its true power.

Ulrike Sych, mdw Rector (from the foreword of the isaMasterclass brochure)

With all of these facets, isa is set to once again demonstrate how artistic excellence can be most brilliantly employed to the benefit of societal well-being and democratic values and in a spirit of social responsibility.

For mdw Magazine, isa asked the tutors of this year’s master classes about what they associate with the motto “We and Me” and whether they would favour solo or ensemble playing if they had to choose just one. To accompany their answers, Andrej Grilc addressed this topic photographically.

It’s in the We that the entire why of music can be found. Music connects us with other people, banishes loneliness, makes the Me greater. Me means the joy that one takes in preparing and the commitment that one must bring to the table in order to be able to make music together. As singers, we’re almost always in a We situation. We often bear the responsibility that comes with standing at the centre, but we’re never alone. Onstage, we then become the advocates for a large number of people who put their entire selves into our collective work. This is not only a big responsibility, but also the greatest possible honour!

Laura Leigh Aikin

An excellent We is only possible with everyone’s excellent Me.
The question of ‘solo or ensemble’ isn’t one that I ask myself—because in the spirit of what I’ve just asserted, I hold chamber music experience to be an absolute necessity in a soloist’s life. On the other hand, one needs the best possible training as a soloist in order to be a full-fledged ensemble member. All great soloists (even if you’ll always find exceptions) also play chamber music.

Josef Niederhammer

In chamber music, We and Me give rise to a synergy where one cannot do without the other. We quite naturally need to breathe, think, and shape things together, but it’s our unique individual characteristics that truly give rise to lively, spontaneous, and unmistakable music-making. In music, as elsewhere in life, exchanging energy and ideas is something that’s unbelievably enriching—so I prefer ensemble playing.

Peter Schuhmayer

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