The Partitura Project Sends Competitiveness Offstage 

April 28, 2023

In partnership with Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires, The Gilmore will host her collaborative, interdisciplinary Partitura Project in its first-ever workshop in the U.S. from Wednesday, May 17 to Friday, May 26, 2023.  

Six invited rising pianists will visit Kalamazoo for a ten-day collaborative learning residency, rescheduled from 2020 and punctuated by a shared performance at Stetson Chapel on May 21. Partitura was launched by Ms. Pires in 2012 to promote cooperation and social engagement among pianists. Workshops have been held in countries across Europe including Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, and in Japan. 

“I am extremely happy to give this workshop at The Gilmore,” said Pires. “In my view, the U.S. has a culture in which creative diversity and the pursuit of new paths are embraced. We have created a different approach to teaching that more fully involves everyone—engaging each participant with respect, understanding, and attention, and helping them form a richer relationship with the music and its sources. I am hoping for a great experience in which everyone can develop their talent and deepen their love for music.”

The veteran pianist views the project as an alternative to the competition circuit. 

“Ms. Pires’s desire to focus on creativity and the “thoughtful musician” fits perfectly with The Gilmore’s approach to our awards,” says Gilmore Artistic and Executive Director Pierre van der Westhuizen, noting the career-making Gilmore Artist Award is given based on a non-competitive process every four years. Gilmore Young Artists are named every two years through a similar process. 

“This will not be your typical master class,” adds Gilmore Director of Education Adam Schumaker, suggesting the piano residency’s unique approach is designed to offset the concept of master and student. 

Indeed, Pires has said, “I don’t like the idea of master classes, because it’s one who knows and others who don’t, but the people who are teaching, they are learning at the same time. In Partitura we do everything: everybody plays, everybody talks, gives an opinion, says something. This is a very good thing because then the interaction starts and people start to see that there is not [only] one truth in music.”

“We are excited that Ms. Pires will focus on more than just technical performance,” says Adam Schumaker. “There are skills in communication essential to music performance that are hard to teach. What sets the successful ones apart is the ability to communicate the music as much as play it. Someone willing and able to teach that is really exciting. Ms. Pires is bringing the human element back into what’s become a very technical field.” 

Partitura’s home base is the Belgais Center in Portugal, which has been home to dozens of workshops, conferences, concerts, performances, and even an opera. 

“The concept is very simple: it’s about sharing,” Pires has said. “Music is something that cannot exist without sharing, and in our difficult times you need projects that everyone can share – different generations can share different kinds of music with people that have no access to concert halls… We have a responsibility to lead our life in the best possible way, to help others and to share this planet with compassion. Music and art are the deepest expressions of our soul and the direct transmission of our universe. I think everyone is born an artist and art should be shared with all people on this planet.”

“For the student, Partitura is about questions and conversations inviting opinions and beliefs from everyone, teachers and students, as a way of investing yourself into the process of discovery,” says Schumaker. 

The May 21 performance will mark Ms. Pires’ first concert with The Gilmore. 

“I could not be more excited to combine the concert with this very special project that will enrich the participating pianists in such a meaningful way,” says van der Westhuizen.

Learn more about the pianists joining Ms. Pires, or purchase tickets online.


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