Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The Elan International Music Festival set its sights on Irving this year, hosting its seventh annual series of classes and concerts at the University of Dallas July 16-28. Since the program’s instigation by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Gary Levinson, pre-teens, teens and young adults have come from 22 countries ranging from the jungles of South America to the Steppes of Eastern Russia to participate in the two-week program.
Christopher Ryan, an administrator with the festival, was very excited about the benefits of the festival’s ongoing relationship with the Metroplex
“Irving is not only relatively central to Dallas-Fort Worth, but the University of Dallas is an international school. It has stepped up time and time again – this year with the dormitories, the practice rooms, recital halls, and the auditorium we’re in right now. They’ve come back and said, ‘We want to make this the home for the Elan International Music Festival, and they’ve worked with us.’”
Elan has decided to show its gratitude to the university by extending its high quality instruction in classical music to the community. The University will benefit beyond the international exposure the festival will bring them.
“We’re going to try to help the University of Dallas build out its music department bringing in some world-class visiting faculty during the course of the two weeks that we’re having the festival.”
One question that could be raised, however, is why the festival chooses to reside in Dallas. Although Levinson is connected with the DSO, cities like Chicago and New York also offer a significant cultural reputation.
“DFW is proximate to the entire United States,” Ryan said. “So if you’re coming from California or New York or Omaha, NE, it’s pretty easy to get here in a few hour flight. DFW also provides a great international port for us to bring kids in from Mexico, Russia and all over the world. The cost of living here is so wonderfully low, and the support we get form organizations like the University of Dallas and Piano Gallery enable us to put on the festival here.”
Hair wild like Bach and a handkerchief folded to a little point in his breast pocket, Anatoly Zatin, guest conductor and instructor, flipped through the score as the musicians tuned up, the colorful menagerie of sound filling the room coming from the forty piece orchestra that was crammed into the tiny auditorium. The orchestra’s size was no less impressive than the music it created, music that bellowed and rushed at the audience before being sucked back into the musicians’ instruments in hushed preparation for the next soaring measure.
The notes of W. Osborne’s Fagot Rhapsody for Bassoon floated like leaves down a river in the sultry heat of summer out of Eric Lopez’s instrument.
“You’re fifty yards away from them,” Ryan said. “If you saw Eric Lopez – he had a full-blown sweat going on. He was getting a real big exercise; his lungs were pumping just to get the piece out. When you’re that close to him you can see that, you can see the humanity and the effort and the exercise and the pain and the gift of what he’s giving. And it creates almost a three dimensional experience beyond just the musical performance itself.”
Zatin, who is also chairman of the music department at the University of Colima, elaborated on some of the reasons the festival is such an amazing opportunity for Mexican students who made their first trip to the festival this year.
“It’s incredible. I can never do this in Mexico because the students in Mexico always want to be paid,” Zatin said. “But coming to study one week in Dallas is a different matter. Dallas is in the US, and it’s something different. It’s psychology.”
Ryan was adamant about the significance of what the festival is doing.
“We are trying to create a world-class festival,” he said. “We bring in the best talent, not only of the students, but the best talent in terms of the instructors.”