The name ‘Fiestravaganza’, which consists of two words: Fiesta and Extravaganza, has come to the mind of the Singaporean pianist Shaun Choo when naming his first ever international academy, which was held from 10 to 16 July 2023 in various locations in Berlin. 13 talented young participants - primarily from Singapore, but also from China, Japan, Turkey and USA – have gathered at Carl Bechstein Saal in Berlin Spandau to take one-week-long masterclasses from Shaun Choo, Prof. Jacques Rouvier from Mozarteum Salzburg and Prof. Lucas Blondeel from the University of the Arts Berlin, as well as lectures by Prof. Björn Lehmann from University of the Arts Berlin and Lena Ching from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Singapore.
At Carl Bechstein Saal, the participants not only had the opportunity to take lessons on a C. Bechstein concert grand, but also on various rare historical fortepianos from collection of the Carl Bechstein Foundation. Prof. Blondeel, who’s a specialist of historical keyboard instruments, gave the participants an intriguing tour of the collection on the first day; for the lessons, he would then individually pick the instruments that are suitable to the periods of the repertoires. Such an opportunity can be experienced almost nowhere else but at the collection of Carl Bechstein Foundation.
Three concerts took place during the academy, for each C. Bechstein has offered a D 282 concert grand. The highlight of FIMA 2023 is the concert on 15 July at the Admiralspalast in the heart of Berlin. Shaun Choo kicked off with his own composition with Prof. Blondeel, a short piece named after the Academy. Seven participants have each performed a movement from piano concerti by Liszt, Beethoven and Mozart with the Camerata Fiestravaganza. Lastly, Choo ended the concert with the second piano concerto by Franz Liszt. After a week’s intense masterclasses, every young pianist has played confidently and brilliantly on stage. The valuable experiences they gained from the lessons and concerts would undoubtedly influence their future careers. Two more participant concerts took place at C. Bechstein Centre Berlin as well as the Cultural Centre Peter Edel at Weißensee.
As main sponsors, the Carl Bechstein Foundation, C. Bechstein Sales & Service GmbH and Bechstein Music World Singapore have supported the first Fiestravaganza International Academy. Its goal matches the very purpose of the Carl Bechstein Foundation – to support young talented musicians. We congratulate the success of FIMA 2023 and wish it an even more successful future!