A Magical Experience At OMWPA 2010

March 25, 2012
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Written by Andrea Sim, participant at OMWPA 2010

All family now

It’s amazing how quickly strangers can become family.

The first Overseas Piano Winter Academy (OMWPA) was held just a little over a year ago for only 10 days, but the rapport that we participants developed with each other remains strong. A key factor to this closeness was the non-competitive nature of the camp as encouraged by Bobby Chen, the Malaysian concert pianist whose brainchild OMWPA was.

During the camp, there were no competitions held. In fact, the workshops were designed to help us work together. In such an environment, it was hard not to blossom in our individual ways. The camp was held at the Yehudi Menuhin School (YMS) where the grounds radiated a peaceful atmosphere, permeated only by the occasional snowball fight.

I had the nerve-wracking experience of being the very first person, on the very first day of the camp to have the very first one-to-one lesson. It was all thanks to Bobby’s alphabetically-ordered list, and my parents’ superb choice of name. As a result, everybody—all the participants, the parents, Bobby and Ziwei—sat in.

Lots of nerves before the Gala Concert

The lesson was supposed to have been given by Professor Ruth Nye, but unfortunately she was sick. Luckily, Bobby managed to get Professor Mikhail Kazakevich to fill in for her at the last minute.

All three of my individual lessons, the second with Professor Andrew Ball and the third with Bobby Chen, were very helpful in helping me expand my musical world. I not only learnt from my own classes but also from the dozens of others that I sat in to.

While the location and the faculty contributed greatly to the success of OMWPA 2010, for me it would not have been nearly as special without the other participants. The energy and talent brought by each and every one of them was something extraordinary and irreplaceable. This rang true in our music, which was always in the pure country air. Someone was always practicing on one of the numerous pianos located around the school and we had many impromptu jamming sessions.

Goodbye, my friends, goodbye

There was, however, one day when we couldn’t practice. This was midway through the course—the day of our London Outing. Early that Saturday morning, we all boarded a bus that took us over the bridge crossing the river Thames and into London. That day was doubly special, because it was the day it started snowing!

As we walked around London, visiting various music stores, we had the magical experience of feeling and seeing snow come down in flurries all around us and the fluffy ice crushed beneath our feet.

When we got back to YMS, the snow was ankle-deep, and the next morning, it was knee-deep in some places. The next few days were full of wet hair, cold fingers and intense fun. Walking towards the dining room building became dangerous, for out of nowhere, a flying snowball could hit you in the face (yeah, I still remember that, she-who-shall-not-be-named *wink*).

Luckily, the snow had cleared up by the time of the gala concert, and it was almost time to go home. To mark the end of this very special camp, we, led by Ching Eng Shen, composed a song, written by Eileen Lian, for Bobby.

After all this time, this song is still guaranteed to strike a chord in my heart, and invoke acute nostalgia.

The lyrics speak for themselves:

Some experiences last a lifetime
This one surely will
We’re all together in the Menuhin School

Some experiences last a lifetime
We’ll treasure them all our lives
We thank you Bobby with all our hearts

With all of my heart, thank you Bobby.

See also Call for Auditions: OMWPA 2012

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