Coaching in Colombia

29 January 2015
Delphine Tissot

Delphine Tissot



After 12 days in Cartagena, where the MCO was performing concerts at the festival, I'm on my way to Santa Marta where I'm going to coach the viola group of the Colombian youth  orchestra FilarmĂłnica Joven de Colombia.

Santa Marta is 200 km from Cartagena, still on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It will take us 4 and half hours to travel this distance. I wanted to work on the music scores during this journey, but soon after we left Cartagena, I got distracted by a road sign with an anteater on it. Apparently they are many here, so basically I spent all the travel trying to spot one... Well, without success…

I coached the Colombia Youth Philharmonic already last year, and I'm really looking forward seeing the students again. This time I have 11 students to coach, with repertoire including Mussorgsky's Pictures of an Exhibition, Bernstein's Candide, and many pieces from Colombian composers.

My role is to prepare and help them to play within the orchestra. That is something quite specific and different from giving a single viola lesson. Basically, they need to learn to blend with each other, so that the viola group speaks with one voice. They also need to know exactly what the other instruments are playing, so that they can adjust, support or mix with all of them.

I have amazing memories from the time when I played in youth orchestra. I played violin with the ECYO and then viola with the GMJO for many years. I'm so grateful that I could play in these 2 formations. That is what gave me a strong will to become an orchestra musician.

Youth orchestra is a very important step for a young musician. It is the moment they learn their job. We learn to play and control our instrument in the conservatoire, but we still need to learn much more about how to become a good orchestra musician.

We spent one week working together, in sectional, then string sectional, then full orchestra. I was very happy to see the progress achieved by the group. After this period, the youth orchestra went to Cartagena to perform their first concert, where all the coaches from MCO could attend. It was so nice to watch and listen to them.

Daniel, Sharon, Andrea Natalia, Daniel, Juan Camillo, Maria del Mar, Tatiana, Andrea Isabel, Juan Carlos, Nicolas, Juan Sebastian...thanks so much!