The Essence and Origins workshops differ radically from conventional master classes that usually offer advice and directives within the framework of a particular instrument or voice. These workshops aim at a wider, more general approach, departing from the principle that music is formally learned from ‘without’, e.g. via technical and theoretical notions. Instead, the aim is to recover the instinctual and deeper foundations of both musical theory and practical techniques in order to capture the essence of music from within. In place of mere technical advice, the musical elements and meanings are explored from within, and the performer is guided and encouraged first to discover for himself so as to acquire gradually the ability to identify with the ideas that sparked the composers’ creative impulses.
Only with such an approach can an interpretation be achieved which makes the music genuinely accessible to the layman, bestowing upon the performer the most satisfying rewards and upon music the fulfilment of its true goal. After all, Beethoven himself wrote at the beginning of his greatest work, his Missa Solemnis, “from the heart … may it to hearts go again”; while Haydn in his old age, despite being exhausted by a life of unceasing labor was, as he himself states, “forcing himself to continue composing, in order to bring joy to some unhappy and desperate soul”.
It is imperative for this purpose to confront immediately and in depth each error in order to discover its roots and thus be able to eliminate it. At the same time, the participants are encouraged to bring forward free and unhampered any query whatever, so that through a process of clarification, one might arrive at essential questions and clear answers. In this way one circumvents the curse of present day education, which, because of perceived lack of time for such ‘luxuries’, promotes hasty and unchecked copying of prefabricated answers. Given the basis on which grades and degrees are currently awarded, such attitudes may help students to achieve them more easily, but they also admit mechanical performances and soulless music making.
The knowledge that results from such a process withers like cut flowers, whilst knowledge that is sown by an alert mind in an awakened instinct fertilizes and enriches, bearing blossoms and fruits like living plants and trees. Education that neglects the awakening and cultivation of the instinct leads to superficial and sterile knowledge. Genuine and fertile learning emerges only from an education in which the probing mind awakens and cultivates the instinct, replacing the self-indulgent inertia of incomplete knowledge with humility, understanding and constantly developing through growing assimilation of nature's perennial wisdom.