Michael and Jessica Shinn have returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall with their festival, pianoSonoma, bringing together artists-in-residence and adult musicians who want solo and chamber music performance experience. There are two back-to-back weeklong sessions, with Tuesday and Thursday early evening concerts, and Wednesday afternoon masterclasses that the public can attend.
Michael Shinn says the artists-in-residence are young professionals who play a variety of instruments, so they can be paired for chamber works with the student participants. “And our participants are musicians from all backgrounds. We have people who are professional musicians, piano teachers, people who don’t do it professionally, people may have just started playing their instrument, to come out and have these collaborations and have the opportunities to perform in both private and also in public concerts as well.” Months before the festival comes the matchmaking by Michael and Jessica Shinn. “We get applications for both participants and artists-in-residence in December. We listen to their recordings and we get to know them through speaking with the potential participants, and trying to figure out what personalities are going to go best as well… It’s a very carefully selected process, and that’s part of the magic of PianoSonoma, that its… we keep it small and very personal so we do those pairings in December and January. And once the participants know who they’ve been paired with, in terms of instrumentation and personalities, we work with them to select repertoire that they start working.” The schedule involves private lessons, opportunities to play before their peers, with critique from the coaches, as well as the public performances. “It’s a high energy for everybody. Jessica and I are the directors of the festival, so we’re always on call, trying to make sure that everything is taken care of. And for the participants and artists in residence, it’s pretty full gas.”