Learning from the master himself

Louis Bourke, The Orchard, Kilkenny takes a Master Class with Violinist Professor Adrian Petcu at Castalia Hall in Ballytobin. Picture: Michael Brophy.
THE SOUNDS of sweet music resonated across the grounds of Castalia Hall last Sunday afternoon when musicans gathered to perform in two very special master classes under the guidance of the renowned Violin Professor, Adrian Petcu.

THE SOUNDS of sweet music resonated across the grounds of Castalia Hall last Sunday afternoon when musicans gathered to perform in two very special master classes under the guidance of the renowned Violin Professor, Adrian Petcu.

The idea to bring master classes and create a public performance emanated from the Director of Kilkenny Violin Studio, Carl Rochford.

“Adrian Petcu is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost violin teachers and performers and regularly gives Masterclasses and performances throughout Europe.

Music featured included performances and classes on Bach, Mozart, Wieniawsky, Elgar, Vivaldi, Corelli, Faure and more. These Master Classes are the first of their kind in Kilkenny,” he said.

“Castalia Hall has fantastic acoustics and is a very peaceful setting. It is the perfect place for an event like this. On the continent it is commonplace to do this. A Master class is a performance and a lesson in an open forum where a celebrated and renowned teacher and performer comes to impart his infinite wisdom.”

Karl, who is originally from Kilkenny developed a passion for performance at a young age and at the tender age of 12 had his heart set on embarking on a musical career.

“I started with the Kilkenny School of Music at the age of ten and before that I was taught by John Kelly, who was based in Kilkenny at the time. During Kilkenny Arts Week in 1986 I was invited to go to an open rehearsal of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. From there there was no question about what I wanted to do. I went to secondary school at the CBS and after finishing school I studied violin with the leader of the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet. I was there for three years and then I auditioned for the Cork School of Music.”

Karl spent six years studying and completed a Masters in Conducting. He is currently completing a Masters in Performance specialising in the works of Soviet composers of the 20th Century and will perform at The Irish Music World Centre in Limerick next year.

He then returned to Kilkenny and taught at the Kilkenny School of Music for 12 years before setting up the Kilkenny Violin Studio.

His teaching ethos is based on developing his students’ confidence when it comes to performing. “For me it is about developing people’s confidence when it comes to playing in front of people. It is about developing someone’s musical potential and then making them realise it.

“I am old fashioned when it comes to teaching. Most teachers just go from exam to exam. That doesn’t cultivate a love for music and that is what it is all about. If you go to any other country when they learn the violin there are no exams, just performance and learning the craft. There are a lot of music schools which just put people through the exam system coming at it from a more traditional approach. The aim is to develop stage presence and confidence at an early age.”

The Kilkenny Violin Studio is located in Ballyragget. Karl currently has over 50 students on his books ranging in age from 5 to 31. For more information see www.kilkennyviolinstudio.com

“I am inclusive of all abilities. It is my belief that everyone has musical potential and the idea is to try and bring that out in people. All classes are individual apart from beginners which are in groups of two.”