MCO Academy

6 December 2017
Mark Hampson

Mark Hampson



I was so excited to arrive in Dortmund for our Academy project this year. It has always held a very special place in my heart as organising the Academy is one of my main tasks as a board member, and I have seen it develop and mature from our first edition back in 2009.

Principally it gives our MCO members the chance to work with exceptional young talent from our various international partners, a real chance to reconnect with our past, as the MCO was born out of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra back in 1997.

It was great to see the young people I know from Spain, Colombia, Manchester, Australia and NRW, many of whom I have taught during the courses we run over the past few years. There is always a very special buzz as one arrives in the Orchesterzentrum|NRW in Dortmund and some of our members were already getting to know our academists.

I was especially excited to be working on Mahler 1 and Berg Violin Concerto this time. They are both works I know and love and I couldn’t wait to pass on what I had already learnt whilst performing them. I also knew that I would learn alot from the young people in our section, I am always astonished by the new ideas I get from working with people who are discovering such amazing repertoire for the first time.
Well rested and anxious to get on with our rehearsals, we embarked on our first rehearsal. The academists had already been preparing the repertoire and there was a tremendous sense of anticipation in the room as always. The first rehearsal threw up some real challenges as we all met each other for the first time in the orchestra, and started to connect with the various different approaches and styles we heard around us. However, I am always amazed by the speed with which things come together, and the second day was already sounding like we had been playing together for much longer.

We continued working over the following two days, this is always a very intense project as we also try to teach some of our academists individually, coach them for additional chamber music and hold talks and events to reflect on our own careers and how our experiences might help our younger colleagues.