“In July of 2019 I had the great pleasure of joining the faculty of the Keshet Eilon Summer Mastercourse, held at the Kibbutz Eilon in the far north of Israel, very close to the Israeli boarder. A safe, peaceful community it houses the Keshet Eilon Music Centre, with purpose-built buildings (and more in planning) and a great concert hall. It was my first time to Israel and to a Kibbutz in general, and it was heartening to witness the close-knit sense of community and the simple, peaceful way of life there. It seemed when wandering the streets that time stood still there and that the pressures and bustle of our hectic lives had not made it past the Kibbutz’s sturdy gates. Everyone was incredible friendly, helpful and excited to have violinists, cellists and violists from around the world descend upon them for two weeks of inspired music making. As a faculty member my accommodation was an entire villa – larger than my own residence back in Melbourne! I taught in the living room during the day. Meals were enjoyed in the common dining area, a central meeting place where one could chat with students and colleagues about the day ahead, or reflect on the events past. The food was a real treat – and incredible array of beautifully prepared Israeli and Middle-Eastern cuisine catering for everyone. 

Students attending the course receive 3 private lessons per week, perform in masterclasses and concerts, chamber music and attend everything they are not participating in themselves. In addition there is archery, a unique part of the Keshet Eilon summer course experience, provided to hone students focus and coordination – essential attributes of any string player. I particularly enjoyed this. While this and musical activities provided an inspiring array of learning opportunities, there were plenty of hours every day for students to focus on their instrumental craft and musical exploration in their own practice. I particularly enjoyed meeting and teaching talented students from many parts of the world – Russia, France, Germany, America and the UK. It was fascinating to hear not only their individuality but also to glean something of the instrumental style and sensibilities perhaps reflective to their respective countries. We often bemoan that schools of violin playing, particular to various countries and easily recognisable throughout much of the 20th Century, have now been blurred with the general globalisation of teaching and access to music through the internet. To a large extent this is true. Nevertheless, I still found there to be differing stylistic traits and attitudes towards music, possibly influenced by general cultural differences that inevitably filter into one’s playing. As a teacher it was a unique experience to work with students from all parts of the world in a single day.

I also particularly enjoyed performing the Schumann Piano Quintet with faculty members Sergey Ostrovsky and Irina Zheleznova and students, an aspect of the course that highlights the fact that whilst being students, many of these young performers are in fact young professionals and as such also our musical colleagues! 

I have many fond memories of 2019 and have made lasting connections with faculty and students. I’m very much looking forward to returning in the future to this wonderful course, held in a very special place.” 

  • Dr. Robin Wilson