Casalmaggiore International Music Festival 2016, by EVERETT HOPFNER

I sometimes find it hard to describe what exactly the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival has come to mean to me.
Every July, the peaceful Italian town of Casalmaggiore welcomes musicians from around the world. We stay for three weeks. We perform at least two concerts, daily. We practice and rehearse with intense motivation and fervour. We absorb as much of the local culture as we can.
I owe so much of my musical development to the incredible challenges and opportunities this environment has presented to me these past years, and through it, I have become part of an incredibly supportive community of friends, colleagues, and mentors.
This summer I had the great honour of joining the Festival as a staff collaborative pianist. There were a whole lot of performances, many more than what I’d usually tackled, and I enjoyed rising to the challenge of preparing and performing so much repertoire. In between, I sat in on lessons with most of the faculty, reconnected with dear friends, made some outstanding new ones, played as much as my body and mind would let me, soaked up the atmosphere, the food, the heat, the enchantment.
Leaving Casalmaggiore and returning to “real life” is always a bit of an adjustment – but this year it’s felt like something has permanently changed inside me. I’m not able to put a finger on it yet, but I feel more confident, more optimistic, more motivated than ever to continue growing into the musician I want to become. I’ll do my best to keep this going.
There are too many people to thank here, so I’ve done my best to share those sentiments privately. But I have to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Casalmaggiore for opening their arms, their hearts, and their ears to us year after year. It’s an incredible place. I hope very much to return.