VC INTERVIEW | Paolo Petrocelli on the Launch of the New Stauffer Center for Strings

October 1, 2021 will mark the launch of the new center in the recently renovated and multifunctional campus, Palazzo Stauffer, in Cremona, Italy

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Paolo Petrocelli, Stauffer Center for Strings General Director

 

The Violin Channel recently discussed the upcoming launch of the new Stauffer Center for Strings in Cremona with its director, Paolo Petrocelli.

The inauguration of the new music center will take place on International Music Day, October 1, 2021. The Violin Channel will be coming to you directly in-person from Cremona, Italy for the opening ceremony and it will be streamed LIVE here on VC from 5.30am (ET).

 

The Stauffer Academia, in Cremona, was founded by violinist Salvatore Accardo in 1985 in collaboration with legendary Cremonese fine instrument preserver Andrea Mosconi. Can you talk us through the history of the institution to date and its overarching mission?

Accademia Stauffer was founded by the Fondazione Stauffer. At the time, it was an ambitious educational project aimed at supporting future generations of musicians, with some of most renowned Italian artists contributing to its creation and development.

The vision was to create a program where some of the most promising string players could receive the finest possible training, while ensuring that all outstanding musicians accepted into the program would be able to study at the Accademia without worrying about tuition payments. 35 years later, we have not only maintained this vision, but we are building on it with the inauguration of the Stauffer Center for Strings.

 

The new Stauffer Center for Strings will open on October 1 becoming the latest addition to your institution. Can you tell us why you felt it was time to open a program like this one under the Stauffer umbrella?

Like all industries, music, and especially classical music, needs to adapt with the times in order to stay culturally relevant and to ensure that careers are sustainable. Now, the demands of classical musicians are higher than ever, and not necessarily just in terms of one’s musical and performance ability. Performers also must be proficient in business. They must know how to utilize their resources to discover new and meaningful ways of engaging audiences. They need to learn how to record, and how to maintain relationships with presenters, and so much more.

The Stauffer Center for Strings takes an extremely integrated approach to training, it is our goal to send graduates into their professional careers armed with the tools they need not only to thrive in today’s music industry, but to consider ways of improving upon it.

 

The new Stauffer Center for Strings seems very holistic in its approach and appears to provide many creative departments, perhaps not available in other international conservatories — including musicological research, composition, violin making, music production, artistic management, and innovation and technology courses. What will string players gain from a holistic program such as this one as they embark on their careers? 

We feel that many traditional classical music institutions overlook the fact that the classical music industry is highly complex. Because we place so much focus on performance, we often neglect discussions about, for example, what tools a composer needs to write a piece of string music, what acoustical properties a luthier looks for when building an instrument, what a presenter hopes to accomplish in programming a season, what various kinds of technologies can do to bring the music closer to the listener. We have dedicated Labs which address these topics and others, taught by some of the world’s leading experts in their field.

Ultimately, having knowledge of these topics will only serve to enhance a string player’s performance, but will also give these musicians a much broader perspective on what classical music is and what it can do. 

 

You will also offer regular masterclasses and string relevant workshops, which will be streamed to the public via The Violin Channel and your own website. Who are some of the important guests you have coming to the school this year?

We are so excited and grateful to have such brilliant artists joining us for these masterclasses. We will host over 40 new expert teachers, many of whom are coming together for the first time in the same institution. These include violinists Michael Barenboim, Lisa Batiashvili, Elisa Citterio, Daniel Hope, Aleksey Igudesman, Roby Lakatos, Viktoria Mullova, Julian Rachlin; violists Sarah McElravy, Antoine Tamestit, Lawrence Power; cellists Matthew Barley, Sol Gabetta, Steven Isserlis, Mischa Maisky, Abel Selaocoe, Alisa Weilerstein; double bassists Uxía Martínez Botana, Ödön Rácz, and The Maisky Trio.

This in addition to our iconic Stauffer professors Salvatore Accardo, Bruno Giuranna, Antonio Meneses, Franco Petracchi, and Quartetto di Cremona. Their different experiences, repertoire, histories, backgrounds, generations, and teaching styles will open the musicians to new perspectives and personal connections.

 

You also offer an elite Artist Diploma program for highly talented emerging young string soloists, string quartets, and concertmasters. Can you please tell us about your vision for these highly specialized programs? Why is the Stauffer Center for Strings a tuition-free program?

Oftentimes, a string player on the brink of an international career may want to pursue these specialized programs in order to polish their skills and push themselves to the next level. At Stauffer, they can do that without reinventing the wheel, as they say, in their musical training, but while still benefitting from the integrated programs we offer. We look forward to seeing a new generation of soloists, orchestra concertmasters, and ensembles who have the drive and ability to lead these roles into new territories.

We also fully understand that a rising musician’s financial security is paramount to their ability to immerse themselves in their studies, and we were committed from the early days to ensuring that these talented individuals would not find this training program cost-prohibitive. 

 

What types of students would be most suited to these programs? 

Advanced string players, likely those who have already trained in conservatory-level settings and earned degrees. And of course, musicians who are deeply curious, dedicated, and enthusiastic.

 

Why would you say the Stauffer Center for Strings and the city of Cremona would be an ideal place for students to come and further develop their musicianship and hone their craft? 

Cremona is the violin capital of the world, and our connection to that heritage makes Cremona the ideal location for a program such as this one. We can blend tradition with innovation while gathering some of the greatest musical minds together, and I feel strongly that this particular model will lead to some incredible endeavors in the landscape of the industry.