August 2005 Convention
San Diego, CA

Masterclass with Wissam Boustany

Sunday August 14

I booked an afternoon flight home on Sunday, just to attend Wissam Boustany’s masterclass as a last convention treat that morning. The class began with a shimmering, uninterrupted performance of the 12-minute Sixth Solo de Concert by Demersseman, played by masterclass performance competition winner I-Yun Tu. Most teachers would have stopped a student after a few lines, but Boustany paced along the side of the ballroom, engrossed. After resounding applause from the audience for Tu and Linda Mark, the pianist, Boustany came on stage and said, “There’s nothing much to fix here!” and elicited laughter from those on stage and off.

He said that what you think, your attitude, is most important in music. “A lot of music is about illusion,” he continued. “You might be petrified inside, so you have to lie, and laugh.” Again, chuckles were heard around the room.

“We have to look at eyes, the soul, not just at the music, so we have to look away from the page once in a while.” He stepped closer to the audience and entreated, “Please memorize your music; it’s harder but it’s better. How can you teach about projection, posture, tone, breathing, communication while trapped behind a music stand?” He took away Tu’s music. Her head stuck out from her neck in shock. “Just try,” Wissam coaxed.

Tu played the entire middle section to perfection. What applause she received then! Boustany’s response was, “Who is the better person, one who can’t but tries, or one who can but doesn’t?”

Tu is a master’s student of Brad Garner. I happened to be in the van with her only two hours after her class performance. She told us that she’d flown in last night just for the class and was returning to Cincinnati right away.

Jessi Rosinski studies at the New England Conservatory with Renee Krimsier and Fenwick Smith. She played the Etudes for Solo Flute by Yun beautifully during the second half of the class.

“We’re not used to practicing with our hearts alive, “ said Boustany. “Say to yourself, ‘I know this music and I’m going to be it.’”

“Aim for more than you think is expected, more than the length of the phrase or the depth of the emotion. When something is inescapably beautiful, it doesn’t need any frills. It’s all there.”

—Helen Spielman