Thoughts from Past Years
Thank you for offering another wonderful opportunity for myself and so many other conductors to conduct great repertoire with a generous and responsive orchestra and tireless world-class teachers. I walked away from the workshop having gained truly valuable perspective and experience as well as new colleagues and friends. I highly recommend this workshop to any conductor looking to improve how they realize a score with a professional orchestra. The combination of the teaching, the quality of repertoire, and the supportive learning environment fostered by all involved is an experience unparalleled by any conducting workshop like it.
Brandon Eldredge (US, ICWF 2012, 2011, and 2017)
Great teachers! Great conductors! I have been to ICWF for twice, and I improved so much after I attended the workshop each time.
Guanlu Guan (China, ICWF 2016 and 2017)
ICWF 2017 has been essential to my growth as a conductor and lifelong learner yet again. This is my fourth festival studying with Don Schleicher and Larry Rachleff. Who I believe are two of the world's greatest conducting pedagogues and I want to learn from the best. I have been inspired, challenged, stretched and thoroughly prepared for the conducting season ahead. Ben Loeb and ICWF have provided an environment and experience that I believe is unmatched, I highly recommend this to all conductors!
Sarah Pearson (US, ICWF 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017)
The ICWF offers the highest quality instruction, musicians, and overall musical experience. You will gain tremendous growth in technique, application of score study, interpretation, and practical insights of the field and profession. I can firmly attest due to my observations and participation in two workshops, that all conductors of all levels walk away with great improvement and lifelong friendships.
Renee Noel Gilliland (US, ICWF 2015, and 2017)
I have not seen a more effective workshop than ICWF. Larry and Don are two incredible accomplished and well respected conductors that I feel 100% safe in trusting with my career development. Having done this workshop twice, and hoping to do it again, the amount of growth seen over such a short period of time is incredible. Their masterful teaching is met with a very responsive orchestra, and great planning by Benjamin Loeb.
Benjamin Spagnuolo (US, 2016 and 2017)
To be part of ICFW 2017 was a unique experience of learning, in music and human aspects. The environment of respect and deep love for music that Larry Racchleff and Don Schleicher set during the sessions made this experience valuable for everyone who participated in this 2 intense weeks of work. I strongly recommend it.
Fernanda Lastra (Argentina, 2017)
Attending ICWF was one of the most enriching musical experiences. It was inspiring to be around surrounded by such a dedicated group of conductors, musicians, and instructors who reminded me what it means to love music.
Jonathan Sie (US, 2017)
ICWF exceeded my expectations in providing us with an opportunity to study great music with equally great professors, players and colleagues. The atmosphere fosters healthy learning and the demands push me (us) to grow more than we imagine in two weeks. I feel fortunate to have had an experience like ICWF. Thank you!
Bryan Dunnewald (US, 2017)
"ICWF has the Trifecta of Terrific Teachers!" Larry, Donald, and Susan are the recipe for the the perfect conducting workshop. I highly recommend attending this workshop if you are either in the beginning stages of your conducting studies or you are a seasoned professional. This workshop is not to be missed!
Nicholas Baker (US, 2017)
Having the synergy of Donald Schleicher and Larry Rachleff teaching together, along with their combined years of experience and wisdom, was something I had never experienced before, and may never again. Their love for the repertoire and dedication to the students enabled everyone to improve dramatically over the course of the workshop. I personally experienced a breakthrough in my own conducting and have come away with much more confidence and much better technique. It was 12 days of pure inspiration!
Alicia Lieu (US, 2017 and Beethoven, Part 1)
After having taught and conducted for many years, primarily in the area of wind conducting, I was quite concerned about my lack of experience with the chosen repertoire and my ability to successfully communicate its brilliance to the professional orchestra. It was clear, even from the first session, that I had entered into a safe, very professional environment were I could feel free to expose my musical and technical shortcomings, and that the quality of this experience would be extremely high. I am grateful to Maestro Loeb and his staff for providing this opportunity. My time in Sofia has undoubtedly had a positive impact on me as a musician/teacher/conductor, and will, hopefully, positively impact my current and future students.
Thomas McCauley (US, 2016)
The International Conducting Workshop and Festival is a truly transformative learning experience conductors of any skill level. You have the opportunity to learn from two of the best conducting teachers on the planet, Larry Rachleff and Donald Schleicher, whose dedication to the improvement of all of the conductors at every single session is remarkable. Those who attend are inspired daily by the efforts of their fellow conductors, and they create lifelong friendships with likeminded individuals from all across the world; and the opportunity to work with a fantastic professional symphony orchestra of consummate professionals who were genuinely enthusiastic to each conductor's efforts to improve was truly special. It is the perfect length of time to intensely study these masterworks and see the fruits of your and your colleagues' labor by the end of the two weeks. I left the two weeks sad at leaving the immersive nature of the workshop as well as the fantastic musicians I met along the way, but happy for having had this tremendous experience and seen tangible progress in my growth as a conductor.
Joshua Thompson (US, 2016 and Beethoven, Part 1 Auditor)
A fantastic experience. Larry Rachleff and Don Schleicher are true humanists, able to connect to people on their most vulnerable levels and inspire them to profound growth as personalities and conductors. This unique quality is also the key ingredient of the wonderfully supportive learning environment at ICWF. Great orchestra, great organization, very highly recommended.
Etienne Abelin (Switzerland, 2016 and Beethoven, Part 1)
Professors Rachleff and Schleicher are the best conducting teachers in the business today, and the experience of working with both of them in the same workshop cannot be beat anywhere. The orchestra is fabulous and very receptive, which is another huge plus!
Cameron May (US, 2016 and Beethoven, Part 1)
This simply change my life. On technical, musical and human aspects of music making.
Mathieu Lussier (Canada, 2016)
This workshop has added a significant and irrevocable layer of insight into the preparation of music, new methods of score study, and how to best navigate the most difficult passages in specific orchestral repertoire. An invaluable experience and well organized. I highly recommend this workshop to other conductors wishing to improve their craft.
James Blachly (US, ICWF 2012 and 2014, Zander Fellow)
Maestro Rachleff and Schleicher are unequivocally two of the finest conductors and teachers in the entire profession. Their enthusiasm to share what they know and their dedication to every student is inspiring. You will leave this workshop changed for the better because of the wonderful teaching and humanistic approach to making music that these two gent leman share.
Wesley Schultz (US, ICWF 2014)
ICWF workshop was, by far, one of the most amazing experiences in my musical life I've ever had. The faculty was brilliant during all the time. I've learned a lot about music, but also a lot about life and humanity. The environment was very friendly, I had the opportunity to know great people and conductors from several places of the world. The organization of the event was spectacular, as well the facilities, and the orchestra. I cannot recommend enough... for me, it was a life changing experience!
Daniel Paduá (Brazil, ICWF 2012)
I have participated in ICWF workshops for two years, and each of those were absolutely essential to my growth as a musician and conductor in the past years. The quality of instruction is unquestionably fantastic; the environment is great, where everyone is focused to do their best, very friendly and supportive. You learn a great deal when watching other people conducting and having feedback. The organization of the workshop is also excellent, which greatly contributes to overall experience during the course.
Daniel Paduá (Brazil, ICWF 2014)
The ICWF 2014 has been a critically valuable and formative experience in my ongoing development as a conductor. The quality of the faculty is unmatched. The orchestra and sextets play on a very high level. Above all, the participants work together and support each other positively and enthusiastically. I would recommend this workshop without reservation to any seriously dedicated and passionate student of conducting.
The workshop in 2015 was an especially memorable and important experience for me. I will not forget the friendships, learning, and music-making of our time in Bulgaria this past summer.
Sean Radermacher (US, ICWF 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017)
The ICWF has been the best learning experience I ever had in the field of conducting. Every dollar has been well spent on first class faculty, an excellent orchestra and a precise organization. The wise advice of both Larry Rachleff Donald Schleicher and have helped me to redirect my career and completely change my approach to conducting. Undoubtedly, it is an experience I would recommend to anyone wanting to work in this profession.
Pablo Devigo (Spain, ICWF 2014)
ICWF combines intensive sessions, excellent mentorship, and collegiality to create an environment where natural learning takes place at every moment. I will continue to learn from my videos, notes, and memories until I come back!
Ben Grow (US, ICWF 2014)
The ICWF 2014: Sibelius/Rachmaninoff/Tchaikovsky was a fabulous opportunity to work with two of the world's greatest conductors and teachers! It was totally immersion conducting the standard orchestral repertoire and collaborating a great orchestra. As a young conductor this experience was priceless. I would highly recommend that all conductors attend and participate. The knowledge I gained, my expanded conducting vocabulary, and experiences I obtained from the workshop propelled me even closer to my conducting goals and aspirations. Thank you ICWF 2014 for the experience, challenges, and memories.
Sarah Pearson (US, ICWF 2014 and 2015)
Larry Rachleff and Donald Schleicher were the most inspiring teachers I have worked with. The quality of the experience was unmatched. Excellent orchestra, facilities, and format. I would absolutely love to return to learn more. The collective support from our colleagues was inspiring and pushed us to work harder each day. Simply the best.
Joshua Konow (US, ICWF 2014 and 2015)
This was a fantastic opportunity to work with amazing teachers and a large professional orchestral on incredible repertoire. That alone makes for an invaluable experience, but the supportive environment, great colleagues, and unique location made it truly unforgettable!
Phillip Larroque (US, ICWF 2014)
Ben Loeb has organized one of, if not THE strongest team and environment to take conductors at any level to a new plane in their development. From the novice who has only taken a few classes in their undergrad to the seasoned professional who still hungers to learn more, they will only imrpove in bounds. Ben's relationship with Larry and Don and the wonderful orchestra presents the most focused and rigorous learning opportunity for any conductor.
Josh John (US, ICWF 2012)
Between the amount to learn from some of the very best conducting teachers, to the quality of the orchestra, to the invaluable video footage, this workshop goes far beyond the impact of any other workshop of its kind.
Brandon Eldredge (US, ICWF 2012 and 2011)
ICWF is wonderfully organized and structured. The administration went about so smoothly that it enabled me to fully concentrate on the music and podium and not worry about the minor stuff. Apart from the fantastic opportunity, the repertoire and the faculty, one thing that I truly enjoyed was the friendships I have made with fellow conductors from around the world. The way the lunches, free-time and party were structured enabled us to discuss and mingle and hear about the music scene around the world.
Jesher Loi (Singapore, ICWF 2012)
My experience with ICWF was a crucial part of my ongoing development as a conductor. World-renowned faculty, a great deal of podium time, score preparation, and a flawless well-organized game plan for the event made it the best I’ve ever attended. There was always an encouraging, nurturing and positive environment throughout the week, allowing us all to grow as much as possible. Many of us who attended the workshop together are now working in the profession and I’m sure we would all agree that this experience was a huge part of our successes.
Now the stars have aligned and Ben Loeb has assembled three of the world’s greatest conducting teachers together at the same time! Working with just one of them is a priceless experience, but all three? This workshop is a must for any conductor at any stage of their development!
Jeffrey Grogan (US, ICWF 2004, 2005, Education Conductor, New Jersey Symphony)
I highly recommend Benjamin Loeb's ICWF workshops. Out of all the workshops I attended, this one was the best! It was highly organized and provided ample podium time. I was mostly impressed with the quality of the learning in these workshops. The potential to improve tremendously at these workshops were encouraging for a any conductor at any point in his/her conducting career. The teaching was first rate but also the atmosphere at these workshops was congenial and very professional. I met some wonderful colleagues and had a chance to work with some really good orchestras. It was a wonderful experience and well worth the effort and time!
Rei Hotoda (US, ICWF 2002, Associate Conductor, Utah Symphony; former Assistant Conductor, Dallas Symphony)
I would like to thank you again for the wonderful workshop. I have learnt a great deal from Carl and yourself, and also from watching the other conductors and chatting to everyone. These workshops are definitely the best 2 weeks of my past three years!
Of course, I would not have met you and Mr. Meier but for these, and I am very grateful for the help and encouragement you have given me. As you know, most of my learning so far has been at the workshops and I really feel that I have become a better conductor as a result.
Lots of people tell me it's a big leap of faith from my part to jump into it like this but somehow, music is just too important for me not to take it totally seriously! I am very proud to be joining Mr. Meier's class at Peabody and hope to make the most out of it in the coming two years.
I look forward to more workshops with you next year and thanks again for everything.
Ken Lam, (Hong Kong, ICWF 2003: Brahms, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky, and 2005: Russian Participant, Music Director, Charleston Symphony Orchestra)
Since I left Sofia, I have had the experience of the workshop in my mind constantly, every day. By far, this was the most valuable conducting experience I have ever had. Working with Mr. Meier was incredible, and I learned so very much from him. He is one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever studied with.
It is clear to me that you have great passion and devotion for all that you do. I cannot even begin to think about the many levels of organization necessary to create a program like this one. You literally saw that every detail was addressed, and this is most extraordinary.
I am honored that you invited me to participate in this program. Thank you for all that you have done -- for your many words of encouragement, and for making me and all the other participants feel so welcome during our stay.
I truly cannot thank you enough for this opportunity which far exceeded any of my expectations.
James Feddeck, (US, ICWF 2005: Dvorak/Bartok Participant, Cleveland Orchestra Assistant Conductor)
Now that I have returned from the last of my European travels, I just wanted write and say thank you so much again for all of your work this summer on the workshop. It was an unforgettable and invaluable experience, especially at this point in my development as a conductor.
The format was ideal, with the consistent podium time and the additional off-the-podium instruction, and everything was incredibly well-organized, which I know is all a direct result of your work and attention to detail. You've fostered a workshop environment that is truly not competitive, and the conductors are supportive of each other, which, as I am sure you know, is quite an achievement.
Thank you again for everything.
Aram Demirjian, (US, ICWF 2008, ICWF 2009)
ICWF has been the platform for a tremendous transformation for me. Conducting such a phenomenal ensemble as BMP was an amazing opportunity to explore, discover and learn new things. However, most importantly, the collegial, respectful and open-hearted approach of Larry, Don and Ben enabled me to assimilate a fascinating way of working with music and people. Their example of responsibility, care, honesty and excellence paved a path where conducting was the outcome of deferential regard for the human condition and utmost appreciation for the music-making process. Gratitude with Ben, faculty, musicians and colleges will perdure and accompany me through my life.
Gonazlo Farias (Chile, ICWF 2012, student at New England Conservatory)
I had a truly enlightening experience at this workshop. I may have learned just as much about conducting and music as I did about humanity. The teaching and camaraderie at this workshop has forever moved me.
As always, your workshops remain at the top of my list. I had been so disappointed last summer when I couldn't fit one of your workshops into my schedule, so it was a delight to be able to participate once again. They seem to get better every year!
Thank you so much for your time and all of your hard work. I really appreciate how efficiently you run these workshops. The quality of the ICW workshops far surpasses other workshops in which I have participated or audited. The faculty has been outstanding, and the other conductors have been really wonderful to be with. The overall atmosphere is absolutely perfect for learning.
Tara Chamra, (US, ICWF 2004, ICWF 2005, ICWF 2007, Music Director, Davidson University Orchestra)
The International Conducting Workshop & Festival is among the most inspiring and creative training programs for today's conductors. It is, by far, the most well organized and professionally run workshop that I have attended. Young conductors are given the opportunity to work with world's leading teachers. In short, I cannot imagine a better conducting workshop.
Michael Sakir, (US, ICWF 2006, ICWF 2007, Music Director, Des Moines Metro Opera)
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in the 2007 International Conducting Workshop and Festival.
In the past, I have had the opportunity to participate in many conducting workshops. This was by far the most organized, best formatted and most informative workshop that I have participated in. It was a thrill and an educational experience to conduct a professional orchestra. Larry, Bohuslav and you were great mentors. It is amazing to be able to spend twelve days with musicians of your caliber immersed in music. I learned as much during the informal dinner and breakfast conversations as I did in the actual sessions.
I hope you take the time to reflect and recognize how much good you are doing for aspiring conductors.
Matt Aubin, (US, ICWF Participant 2007, Adjunct Professor, University of Hartford)
Thank you very much for everything.
Thank you very much for putting me in to Zlin to get into the ICWF the wonderful workshop for the conductors. I think it would become the one of the best memorable experience in my life. Since I left the school for quite sometime, I have been worked with my soul and body fully in my music career as a cellist and the conductor which is busy and tiring that makes me hardly to breathe. but I suddenly got so much fresh air where I am in Zlin with your workshop, wonderful teacher, wonderful friends, wonderful orchestra. I had the great opportunity to meet one of the most incredible teacher I have ever studied with Maestro Larry. I have learnt a lot of things from him during my podium where he coached me and besides although I thought not enough time there. He gave me so much inspiration. And the baton technique and the music ideal he taught me which gives me great help where I am working as a conductor. I think the workshop in Zlin is very organized, from beginning through the end are so details. Your organization was perfect in all. As a conductor from Asia to know the European orchestra, I think It is to get into the orchestra to work with them, thanks for the time to work with them, I think through the two weeks, the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic has presented their best professional attitude. They are very good musicians, and nice people. the orchestra collaborative and very professional. The concert was very good indeed, especially the short rehearsals. They have done the very good job.
I will start to work tomorrow, but I can't wait. I have so many new ideas where I got from the workshop in Zlin which I really want to put in my rehearsals. I look forward to joining the next workshop. Anyway I can't wait. The interesting things are
American conductor workshop, French Repertoire, And the Czech Orchestra It is like international music and culture cuisine. for me, just wonder!
James Liu, (China, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2009: Chihuahua, Music Director, Wuhan (China) Symphony Orchestra)
As a first time participant, the ICWF was an inspirational experience that I would highly recommend to all conductors. Ben has created a special thing here. The workshop is a positive nurturing environment and a great opportunity to meet colleagues and build lifelong friendships. The faculty are phenomenal. Mr. Rachleff and Mr. Schleicher have such passion and excitement for what they do and itâ€™s contagious. There was never a day of the workshop that I didnâ€™t learn new things. I was impressed with the quality of learning and the amount of podium time in both orchestra and sextet sessions. The workshop has certainly opened my eyes as a conductor, musician, and human being. It was such an unforgettable experience!
Stephen Salem (US, ICWF 2012)
I just wanted to thank you again for another fantastic workshop. The level of excellence at this year's workshop was particularly impressive. Larry was a marvelous teacher, the orchestra was wonderful and the other participants were a great joy to work with and watch develop. I also found your and Bohuslav's advice and observations to be both insightful and practical. I'm looking forward to hearing about future workshops and I hope to be able to attend more in the future.
Joshua Horsch, (US, ICWF 2006, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2009: Chihuahua, Director, Ark and Dove School of Music)
Meals were awesome. Hotel provided a collegial atmosphere - everyone seemed to stop by for a beer in the evenings.
Cindy Egolf (US, ICWF 2012, 2010, 2005)
Thanks again for the great workshop! I know we all learned and grew a lot and it couldn't have happened without all your diligence and hard work. I thought conducting sessions were well organized and the system of switching from one conductor to another worked well (when people weren't too bashful). The "pow-wows" were all very helpful and I thought you, Larry, and Bohuslav were great mentors and willing to help in and outside of the sessions.
Jesse Livingston, (US, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2009: Chihuahua)
I really don't know how to thank you, or if there is any really true way I can... Just know that you have helped transform and change my life into a direction that is closer to my hearts dreams. There aren't any words I can say to express that. I only hope I can see you soon, to give you a big hug and heartfelt Thanks in person.
Jacomo Bairos, (US, ICWF Participant 2008)
This years ICWF was one of the most valuable and eye-opening experiences for me. I am a better musician and more willing to undertake the challenges that a conducting career will bring. Every person has something very special to bring to the table, and I'm happy that I got to learn from everyone. We are so lucky to work with the BPM in Zlin, it makes everything possible. Learning from Larry Rachleff is a rare opportunity that we will all hold close to our hearts. I will definitely remember his words during study and spread his knowledge to others. The tag-team of Bohuslav Rattay and Ben Loeb also added a nice variety of ideas and made the workshop very well rounded. Thank you for your great organization and efforts.
Fareed Khlayel, (US, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2009: Chihuahua)
Larry Rachleff. Fantastic! Get him any and every time!
Your workshops are, by far, the best run, the best organized, the best overall experiences I've ever had. Otherwise people wouldn't return. I think you're brilliant! And I applaud your efforts.
David Stech, (US, ICWF 2002, ICWF 2003, ICWF 2004, ICWF 2005: Academy, ICWF 2005: Dvorak/Bartok, ICWF 2006, ICWF 2007, ICWF 2008)
Thank you so very much for the workshop in Chihuahua! It was outstanding. Admittedly, I had been somewhat intimidated by Beethoven's output, and I was tentative about coming to a workshop that featured only his music. Sure, I knew the music. But being familiar with it and conducting it are two different things. In the few days of the workshop, I felt my own transformation within the masterworks of this great composer. I left the workshop empowered, with a clearer understanding of the works, with a sense that not only does his music speak to me, but it can also speak through me. Without a doubt, I am a better musician after my ICWF Chihuahua experience.
The workshop was expertly planned and implemented. The repertoire was incredible, the setting was magnificent, performances were of a very high level, and the teaching was absolutely top-notch. The members of the orchestra deserve an extra note of thanks. They were accepting, patient, attentive, professional, and responsive. Everything about the atmosphere was fantastic. I'm looking forward to future workshops!
James Park, (US, ICWF 2006: Beethoven)
The two weeks that I spent studying with Maestro Meier at the International Conducting workshop were absolutely invaluable. The Maestro's musical insights and their physical expression were communicated clearly and succinctly and were extremely helpful. The podium time was enough to cover a substantial amount of repertoire and to make solid strides in my technique as a conductor. Thank you very much for an inspirational two weeks.
Gareth Jones, (Canada, ICWF 2006: Beethoven)
Fabulous workshop; I once again found it an invaluable experience. The Chihuahua Filharmonico was dedicated to the music right up to the 27th run-through of Beethoven 5 and Mr. Meier's ability to foster an intense, non-competitive community that is unanimously devoted to self-improvement (to say nothing of his tireless teaching) is astonishing. It was all extremely well put together and ran very smoothly.
Nicholas DeMaison, (US, ICWF 2005: Russian, ICWF 2006: Beethoven)
Thanks for all your great leadership in putting the workshop together. The whole thing really was fantastic. The atmosphere was really very good indeed, conducive to learning and receptivity, yet at the same time relaxed and fun. Thanks too for your beautiful music making in the chamber music concerts and the Triple Concerto.
All the best to you.
Mark Latham, (England, ICWF 2006: Beethoven, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2008: Brahms, ICWF 2009: Chihuahua)
I got the masters in arts in Havana and studied with four conducting formers and by far, Maestro Meier is not only the best one, but THE ONE AND ONLY... his background, technical training system, experience and patience is unbelievable... furthermore, the great team supporting him can either help you with the right advice for improving day by day and all of us noticed it...
The attitude of the orchestra members was really good, they helped us a lot with the only meaning of performing as we conducted... so we can notice immediately the changes...this repertory can teach you the secrets for conducting later composers... And Meier's concepts on Beethoven are really crystal clear.
About the concerts, OUTSTANDING is the grade... first rate soloists for the chamber music, Michael Ludwig, Eric Gaenslen, Joan Kwuon and Joel Smirnoff.
This workshop has been one of the most exiting experiences of my life...
Thanks for everything...
Ramon Farias-Rascon, (Mexico, ICWF 2006: Beethoven)
This workshop was one of the best experiences in my conducting life; I have taken many courses in USA and Europe with famous teachers but nobody was capturing and inspired like Maestro Meier. The sense of the music was in his face like a picture of Caravaggio, clear, powerful and deep. It was amazing as he dedicated to each one with the same positive energy and unforgettable smile. Your organization was perfect in all, the repertoire fantastic, the orchestra collaborative and very professional. They played concerts of very high level. For me, it was a true joy to be with all the wonderful colleagues, I am sure that we all will remember the deep emotions we had together working hard to improve our conducting. I bet that with many of them we will be close in the future in a spirit of friendly collaboration with the sense of a kind of big conducting family. I would love to be with ICWF again in the future, please let me know all your activities.
Simeone Tartaglione, (Italy, ICWF 2007: Beethoven participant)
Thank you very much for putting the workshop together. It was a great learning experience. Your teaching was very helpful and I am grateful for the enormous amount of work you did to make everything run so smoothly.
Lindsay Riemer, (US, ICWF 2005: Russian and Dvorak/Bartok, ICWF 2008: Brahms)
Thanks for all your help this summer. You've been a great and supportive teacher to me, and I know it will be a long time before I've fully grasped all that you, Rossen, Carl, and Mr. Meier have offered.
Jason Raff, (US, ICWF 2005: Academy, Russian and Dvorak/Bartok)
Just a quick email to thank you most sincerely for your organization and all the mountains of personal emails you sent to me in preparation for the course. A real multi-tasker. I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Bulgaria, met some lovely people and thought that Mr. Meier was excellent. He was very patient with us all and it made for a great learning environment.
Once again thanks a million.
Ciaran McAuley, (England, ICWF 2005: Dvorak/Bartok)
I really enjoyed my time at the workshop and felt I learned a great deal. I am even more disappointed in not having been able to make the academy and very much hope to be a part of it next June. Your putting together of these programs is really quite remarkable and inspiring and my hat goes off to you. I also very much enjoyed your concert - you had a tough job getting those folks to feel comfortable with the Bartok and you did yourself proud.
My time at the workshop was inspiring, motivating and enlightening. Gustav Meier and Ben Loeb are insightful, encouraging and supportive - I am coming back!
Justin Bischof, (Canada, ICWF 2005: Dvorak/Bartok)
ICWF is a very special program. I've never been so impressed with the talent level of my colleagues, the totally supportive environment, and the consistently insightful and caring instruction provided by Maestros Meier and Milanov. The NSO is a fantastic orchestra to work with. Anyone who's truly serious about becoming a better conductor, no matter their current level, should attend.
Harry Marenstein (US, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky)
The ICWF is a remarkable workshop that packs a year's worth of learning into the space of 10 days! The teaching is excellent, and the orchestra plays wonderfully and is very supportive of the conducting students. Perhaps the best part of the workshop, though, is the camaraderie that develops among the students - I made great friends at this workshop and learned a great deal through discussions with participants outside of class.
Alexander Kahn (US, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky)
I would like to thank you for these days in Boyana. This workshop was wonderful. The outstanding class of the instructors, the very high level of the participants and auditors, the perfect organization and the luxurious place are something really unique. The musicians in the orchestra are at the same time completely professional and extremely nice. The concerts held in Boyana residence were world-class musical moments. And the best is to live with all these great musicians.
Gabriel Drossart (France, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky and ICWF 2002: Beethoven)
I should let you know that, after being home for a month, not a day goes by that I do not think about the incredible workshop in Sofia. Thanks to you, we only had to focus on conducting -meals, accommodations, video, were all in your capable organizational hands. It was a truly special group of people and for me personally, far exceeded Prague. I think the camaraderie was especially enhanced by having everything literally under one roof. Mealtimes were a wonderful way of sharing and getting to know everyone. Maestro Meier continues to amaze and inspire me every time I see him, and Rossen is truly a remarkable musician. None of this would be possible without your creation of this workshop. Although I did not have the opportunity to study with Maestro when I was first starting out, I have now enjoyed the benefit of his teaching, thanks to the no age limit at these workshops. I extend my sincerest thanks for all that you did in Sofia.
Roberto deClara (Canada, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky and participant ICWF 2002: Beethoven)
It was great to be chosen to study with Mr. Meier again in Sofia. He inspired all of us in his teaching to be a better conductor both musically and technically. I believe that we conducted with improvement each day. I would also like to thank Mr. Milanov for his teaching that he sees what we need to be aware when we were conducting.
Jacob Chi (USA, ICWF 2003: Brahms and ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky, Faculty, ICWF 2006 and ICWF 2009, Music Director, Pueblo Symphony, Principal Conductor, Marquette Symphony)
In those ten days I studied with Carl St. Clair in Bulgaria, my conducting changed completely. I have never experienced a more encouraging seminar by a more competent teacher. The atmosphere was totally non-competitive and by the time the final day came, I felt I had made 18 new friends. The hotel was incredible, the food fantastic, but it was the instruction that was what truly set this program apart. There was plenty of podium time with so much positive feedback and wonderful instruction. I learned both on as well as off the podium by watching Carl work with other students. To work with such a conductor as Carl St. Clair and to conduct an orchestra like the New Symphony was well worth the costs. I can't think of a better way to begin a summer.
Nathan Schneider (US, ICWF 2004: Beethoven/Mozart and ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky)
I honestly can't thank you enough for this wonderful experience! This is very important and benefits us all, conductors, orchestras, students and teachers. I believe we were all inspired by Carl [St.Clair] and got a whole lot of helpful comments and suggestions for a year's worth of studying and practicing! So, next year we should definitely get him back! And I must say that I have never felt so close to a group of people that I only knew for a week!
This should be the way to make and learn music! For the organization part I have nothing to add or comment on. Everything was excellent! The hotel (AMAZING), the service, the people. I believe the repertoire was an excellent choice. Studying one or two composers at a time, gives us a chance to really go in depth and understand a particular style or the composer himself. In any case, this repertoire covered a multitude of levels from easier to more difficult-and that is very important for a beginner like myself, to not feel overwhelmed!
Sophia Kokkori (Greece, ICWF 2004: Beethoven/Mozart)
I would like to thank you for an absolutely fabulous time in Bulgaria! I can honestly say that it was one of the defining musical experiences of my lifetime, as I have not stood in front of many groups. It was fabulous to stand in front of an orchestra that was caring, and to be in an environment that was so supportive. It really helped me (as a young artist, just beginning my musical life) to be in a place that was filled with so many wonderful artists and people! I really can't stop talking about my time in Bulgaria when I'm hanging around my friends and family... sometimes, I think it's starting to get old (lol). And, I'd definitely like to return sometime to work with you, whoever the lead presenter is (Carl would be AWESOME to work with again), and all the other artists. I've e-mailed a few people from the workshop since returning, and plan to stay in touch with them for a long time.
Matthew Hooper (US, ICWF 2004: Beethoven/Mozart, ICWF 2005)
The workshop was great! Carl [St.Clair] was an awesome teacher. I learned a lot - there is nothing like conducting every day with a full orchestra. And, I have to say that everything was very organized right from the beginning, which makes things run very smoothly - all thanks to you.
Christopher Hill (US, ICWF 2004: Beethoven/Mozart)
A fantastic workshop! This was the best conducting workshop I have ever attended. The feedback from Gustav Meier, Rossen Milanov and Ben Loeb was always positive, constructive and based on the musical intentions of the composer. Their comments and manner encouraged each conductor to develop themselves in relation to their own personality and musical ideas, without comparison to others, and as a result, instilled confidence in us all, with great results.
The orchestra should be congratulated for their musicianship and support of our professional aspirations, and I hope to work with them again in the very near future.
Chris Childs (Great Britain/Austrailia, ICWF 2003: Brahms)
It is hard to express (without sounding "over-the-top") but... all I can say is the workshop in Bulgaria was a profound experience. The tone of the entire workshop was nothing but positive, positive, positive. It was clear that Mr. Meier, Rossen Milanov, and Ben Loeb were there to help us to become better, no matter where we were in our studies, and do so in a positive milieu. Such a refreshing experience! Also, the orchestra was very gracious and kept giving of themselves. What astonished me the most was how their sound changed for each conductor. They truly reacted to what they saw and felt.
Nancia D'Alimonte (US, ICWF 2003: Brahms)
A wonderful workshop! I thought it was very well organized, and it helped that you were also a conductor, because I felt like that perspective really mattered to the administrative design of the whole thing--you knew what we wanted!
Akiko Fujimoto (US, ICWF 2003: Brahms)
I thought the workshop was a very good experience, especially considering the difficulty of the repertoire. I feel I learned as much as an auditor as I would have had I been a participant. Thanks again for a wonderful workshop.
J. D. Gersen (US, ICWF 2003: Brahms, ICWF 2004: Tchaikovsky, ICWF 2005: Russian, ICWF 2007: French, ICWF 2008: Brahms)
The International Conducting Workshop gave me a great opportunity to study with Gustav Meier that everybody legitimately holds as one of the best conducting teachers nowadays. Not only can his advice "heal" the bad habits that students may gather through years of individual practice, but his personality also convinces and inspires all of us. We all know the little hassles that may occur in a workshop, hindering our thinking about music only; it is precisely why I must express my utmost admiration for the quality of the organization, all the students were able to concentrate on the essential, in what we should call a great "intellectual comfort". Thank you for everything.
David Grandis (France, ICWF 2003: Brahms)
Thank you so much for such a beautiful experience in Sofia. The workshop was first class. You did a brilliant job: from the scheduling of classes and time with the orchestra, to the accommodations, the food, and the overall atmosphere that was so conducive to learning and having a positive experience. You have created a very special workshop that I am sure will bring people musical inspiration for many years to come.
Michael Ludwig (US, ICWF 2003: Brahms, ICWF 2005, Concertmaster, Buffalo Philharmonic)
What a fabulous experience the ICWF was! The quality of the orchestra, participants, and the opportunity to focus on great repertoire in daily rehearsal and study sessions is unmatched anywhere else. The opportunity to work with Gustav Meier and the outstanding ICWF conducting staff is something I continually treasure each day as a conductor. The organization of podium time coupled with private coachings and video analysis makes for maximum production and progress among all participants. The interaction with other conductors in a positive and supportive environment was invigorating and inspirational.
Tom Wellin (US, ICWF 2002: Beethoven/Mozart, ICWF 2003: Brahms)
Thanks for a great workshop. 'Twas a lot of fun and a great learning experience.
Forrest Sherrill (US, ICWF 2002: Beethoven/Mozart)
Without any exaggeration, this has been the greatest musical experience of my life. I think that says everything.
Pablo Sabat (Peru, ICWF 2002: Beethoven/Mozart)
This was an excellent workshop - extremely well organized, with a focused and congenial atmosphere surrounding the inspired teaching of Gustav Meier.
Susan Haig (US, participant ICWF 2002: Beethoven/Mozart)
The combination of the privilege of conducting the responsive, sensitive, cooperative and musically excellent Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, enjoying a "tune up" from a world class teacher like Gustav Meier and simply being in magical, musical Prague, where Mozart is revered like a deity, ranks among the finest musical experiences of my lifetime.
Robert Debbaut (US, ICWF 2002: Beethoven/Mozart)