Somehow week two of MARLI is already halfway over! You’ve seen the opening convocation, read the blog posts, and been treated to multiple performances, but you might be asking yourself, “What does the Remote Learning Institute look like for those participating?” In a word, busy!
Let’s look at the numbers. This week alone, there are six seminars (plus two additional ones for the Vocal Institute fellows), 35 various classes for specific sections or groups, and 198 (!) lessons. Today alone, for example, there are 15 classes and 42 lessons! Oh, and keep in mind that this is all being coordinated across multiple time zones and with fellows, faculty, and speakers in locations from Spain to Shanghai.
A typical day for a fellow might include a mix of these activities. Lessons with the Academy’s distinguished faculty members take place online via Zoom, giving the fellows the perfect opportunity to use the equipment contained in their MARLI tech packages. Classes cover a wide range of topics. Studio classes offer members of individual sections the opportunity to gather together with their faculty to discuss various issues and receive feedback on their playing. There are also classes of a more specific nature—orchestral etiquette, for example. Fellows also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one coachings on writing, public speaking, and using technology.
The centerpiece of MARLI, though, is the seminars. Focused broadly on the subject of innovation, these gatherings with industry leaders are scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In these sessions, fellows hear from and interact with a distinguished list of speakers that includes a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, a TED fellow, and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Oh, and that’s just in the first two weeks! The full list of speakers—a veritable who’s who of the music industry—represents a diverse range of backgrounds. It includes conductors Marin Alsop and Michael Tilson Thomas; arts activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph; Pulitzer Prize winning composers Jennifer Higdon and Paul Moravec; and former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, just to name a few.
Violists attend a studio class as part of MARLI
Each of the four weeks is tied together with a theme. Last week set the stage with “Innovation, Ideation & the Entrepreneurial Mindset,” while this week fellows got down to brass tacks with “Technology Skills” like sound recording and cinematography. Next week’s theme is “Skills to Advance Innovation,” and includes talks on funding, project development, concert programming, and publicity, along with a timely discussion of diversity and representation. The final week looks ahead with the theme: “What’s Next? Shaping the Future of Classical Music in a New Era.”
When the Music Academy first imagined what a remote festival experience might be like, the goal wasn’t simply to do something during a season filled with cancelations. It was to embrace challenges, redefine priorities, and continue the Academy’s mission of developing the next generation of classically trained musicians in a meaningful way. As festival mainstays like studio classes, lessons, and coachings continue remotely alongside new opportunities like the innovation curriculum, it has become clear that MARLI—something that began out of unfortunate necessity—has become something truly special.
– Henry Michaels
Resonance editor, Audience Services and Community Access Manager, Music Academy of the West