Volume 4 / Chapter 135
[TN: Another crazy place where JH can showcase his genius!!!]
The Festung Hohensalzburg that is easily visible in the city of Salzburg is grand like an iron fortress. Hohen also means fortress. Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein began its construction in the year 1077 and with its continued extension over 700 years, it boasts an incredible scale.
It is so large that the citizens of Salzburg used it as a refuge during war.
Every July and August when the Salzburg Festival opens, there is a concert here every night. And since the standard is so high, the best vocalist and conductor in the world participate. It is the world’s top music festival with attendance by musicians from over 75 countries every year.
It is a music festival that does not bring shame to a place called Mozart’s hometown.
New York’s three schools of music, Juilliard, Eastman, and Clayton-Hoffman received a bold proposal from the committee of the Salzburg summer music festival.
They were asking if they would like to participate in a program called ‘New York’s Conservatories’.
It was a request for students from the three schools to create an orchestra and perform for three days. Of course the repertoire would be Mozart’s works.
Upon receipt of this respectful letter, a faculty meeting began with the dean at the center.
“Isn’t the idea okay? I do not think it is bad to work with music of other schools.”
“But this is also a competition between the three schools. Which one has the most students chosen as members will also be something to worry about.”
“The organizers thoughts are to create enjoyment with this plan. The same proposal went to schools in Vienna, Paris, Prague, and Berlin as well. In other words, they’re thinking of making us battle it out by city.”
“Ha ha. Then what about that? Young people don’t reject these kinds of battles.”
The professors’ opinions were divided, but they could understanding the organizers’ plans. The gifted at educational institutions all around the world. The chance to compare their skills in one place. They are aiming to gain public attention by putting in a competition, which is not fitting in the festival.
“Is there no word from Juilliard and Eastman?”
All of the professors looked toward the dean.
“Since they can’t completely ignore the Salzburg Festival committee… Anyway, I would like to hear all of your opinions first. I need to make the decision together with you.”
“I’m for it.”
When Professor Hirani agreed to it without hesitation, the other professors naturally leaned toward favoring it. The dean smiled widely in satisfaction regarding the decision.
“Professors. By chance. Have you thought of what a good repertoire might be?”
“Is there a reason to decide it already? It won’t be late to select the songs after putting the orchestra together.”
How could they already be contemplating the repertoire when they just made the decision to participate? It is not an easy feat to choose the songs out of Mozart’s 600 that will complement the students’ passion the most.
“Well… It’s a bit embarrassing to say. What do you think of opera?”
“Excuse me? Opera?”
The professors started to murmur. An opera involves production, not just music. If dance is included, it becomes a combination of the arts that requires the direction of a choreographer.
“Dean. Why an opera?”
“I would like to give the opportunity to students who are vocalists, not just the instrumental parts.”
None of the professors believed the dean’s words full of goodwill. He does not have the personality to pay attention to such details.
The dean laughed as he received the suspicious gazes of the professors. S
“He he. Well this is the formal reason.”
After he drank the coffee sitting in front of him, he confessed his real reason,
“It’ll be an event that the school board will like.”
“That’s what it was.”
There were low shouts from everywhere. They had realized the complicated thinking behind it when they heard the words school board.
“It’s not just me. The deans of Juilliard and Eastman would also like it if we say we’ll perform an opera. They’re in the same situation that I’m in.”
Then, one professor spoke baldly,
“Are you doing this because of the donations?”
“That’s it. Truthfully, this isn’t a festival but a competition. A competition between schools of Europe and New York. If our New York schools come out superior, many more resources will come to us.”
As soon as the dean finished speaking, a professor added a hidden purpose,
“It is the perfect set-up for fundraising efforts.”
“It is. The rich who have too much money are attracted to exciting things like competitions. And isn’t this an issue of pride? If we do better than the European cities, our rich people from New York won’t hesitate to hand over their money. Hm hm.”
The dean coughed awkwardly after being so explicit.
“As you know, a lot of the school’s finances are riding on donations, so I believe that you’ll understand what I’m saying. And the deans of Juilliard and Eastman will also be saying what I just said at the moment.”
The dean’s last words put the nail in.
“So you’ve already contacted them.”
“Yes. We discussed the issue together this morning. They both agreed to it.”
Making the decision may be easy, but the process and predicting the results will not be easy. The professors began to think of the realistic problems.
“But there is too little time to prepare. If it is at the end of July, we don’t even have 3 months and it won’t be easy to perform Mozart’s magnum opera. The students who participate in this will probably have to invest 24 hours of their time to this. They won’t be able to do normal lessons.”
“Dean. Even if we do an opera, will it come out successfully? This is an issue of the skill of vocalists. Even famous vocalists find Mozart’s opera difficult because there is a lot of singing…..”
The dean could understand their worries, but he knew that this was the time to push forward. He did not want to lose the opportunity to have a donation party.
“Aren’t they in training anyway? Don’t we need to lower the standard for success? And no matter how grounded the citizens of Salzburg are, they won’t have such strict standards. And an opera isn’t something that is always available.”
The professor of conducting had greater worries than the professor of vocals did. He seemed to be fretting the most.
“The realistic issue is the conductor. The Salzburg Summer Festival committee said that the entire orchestra needs to be composed of students. Do you think there is a conducting major student in the three schools with the ability to lead an opera for two hours?”
The professors’ worries were flooding in when someone broke out in laughter.
“Ha ha. This is… well. Dean, you are impressive.”
The professors all looked at Professor Hirani who had started laughing.
“The conductor is surely a student from our school.”
The dean laughed as he met eyes with Professor Hirani. That is when the other professors thought of the same student.
“Ah, I see. The future conductor of the New York Philharmonic is at our school.”
“And I can affirm that no one in Europe will bring an opera as part of their repertoire.”
The dean’s last words showed his commitment that he could not lose out on the donations.