NYU Abu Dhabi's music lovers were in for a treat earlier this month when renowned cellist and arranger Fabio Pellegatti spent two weeks on campus. The second notable musician to visit the University as part of the Musician in Residence program, he shared his broad approach to musicianship with music majors and non-music majors alike and focused special attention on strings, chamber music, and arrangement and orchestration.
Created by Celina Charlier, NYUAD visiting assistant professor of Music and director of Music Performance, the program aims to "provide an experience that is rich in value and enhances the musicianship of the students in different ways," she said. Inviting those musicians who can offer at least three distinct areas of expertise, Charlier selects individuals who will complement what she is teaching. "I'm bringing those who can provide knowledge and expertise that intertwines with mine, but that is not mine," she explained. "And I only extend invitations to musicians who have top-level careers that are well-balanced with strong components in both performance and teaching; those who are researchers, performers, interpreters, arrangers, composers…those who have foundation, not just technique."
The offerings of each Musician in Residence are equally diverse. In addition to workshops, master classes, and individual and collective instruction, each musician performs one concert with Charlier. "This is a way for my students to connect what I am teaching them with what I do," she said. "The best way for them to get this exposure is for them to see me doing the real thing." As NYUAD sophomore Cristóbal Martinez said, "It was very nice to sit down and hear Celina and Fabio play and to then discuss the different implications and significance of the pieces they were playing. These highly personal conversations are very effective to make information stick in your brain — almost better than any classroom lecture.
For the musicians who are coming, they are getting an original experience too.
As with the first Musician in Residence events that took place last semester with Sri Lankan pianist Eshantha Peiris, students taking part in Pellegatti's residency received customized attention to their particular backgrounds, skill sets, and expectations. For students like Martinez, who is double majoring in music and film, the program allowed exposure to Pellegatti's vast musical knowledge. As well as attending Charlier and Pellegatti's concert, Martinez played a baroque piece with Pellegatti, had a one-on-one session to explore the different possibilities for articulation of stringed instruments, received instruction during Pellegatti's visit to his chamber music class, and got feedback on some of his scores. "As a young composer, knowing what different effects the strings can produce and knowing how to notate them on the score is extremely important," said Martinez.
The experience was equally enriching for non-music majors. NYUAD junior Charlotte Wang, a Social Research and Public Policy major, took an individual lesson with Pellegatti and also attended his concert with Charlier. "Music and playing cello were a big part of my life before university," she explained. "I haven't had much of a chance to play since coming here, and it was great to have an opportunity to get involved with the music program in ways that are low key and don't require too much of a time commitment." And this is exactly why Charlier structured the program as she did. She explained, "I'm filling in a gap so that students who are not able to commit to semester-long study can benefit from an intensive, compact study. It's a program by immersion — one in which they can experience lots of different ways of music making with the same professional."
For Charlier, giving the student body access to accomplished musicians enables them to take their music making to the next level. But it's not just about the students. "For the musicians who are coming, they are getting an original experience too," she said.
The second Musician in Residence for this semester will be Marcio Miele. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music educator, improviser, and performer will arrive on May 5.