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  • Jessie Combs

Daniel Gaisford Guest Masterclass at DSU on April 19, 2019

The master class with Daniel Gaisford was a great reminder of how we, as musicians, should be viewing our creation of music. The piece I played was a sonata by Dmitri Shostakovich and I took away more than just technical advice. I gained deeper desire to understand my piece and how to be express the feeling of it; which is what Mr. Gaisford is so excellent at as a musician. In the class he shared stories of Shostakovich,(and the composers of the other players pieces) and the intense government pressure that affected his compositions. The piece I played features abrasive and aggressive then even facetious elements. There is a lot of opportunity to express the frustration and annoyance (to put it lightly) Shostakovich must have been feeling.

After leaving the class I read a whole online biography about Shostakovich and looked up some new pieces of his. I also have been listening to pieces that I already enjoyed, but I appreciate even more after knowing just a bit more about the composer. Including the one I'm playing, of course. So I still have shifts to practice, but I feel like I have a better relationship with my piece and an idea of how to develop that further.

And after hearing Daniel Gaisford perform with the symphony I know that he has a deep relationship with the music he plays, and that emotion is what people feel when they hear the music.

Jessie Combs


The masterclass with Daniel Gaisford was very helpful and a good experience! He talked about phrasing the main theme in a different way than I had been playing it, and it made me think about phrasing the whole piece differently. He also talked about articulating with the left and hand and making sure to coordinate with the right hand, which is something I’m working on implementing to my playing. Overall, I learned valuable things and it was great to hear feedback from an outside perspective.

Mackenzie McNeil


Daniel Gaisford is very strong and aggressive player, so when it was decided that I would play the Gigue from Bach's third suite in C on gut strings, which require a lighter touch, I was slightly apprehensive about what suggestions he might have. To his credit, Daniel was sensitive to the nature of the delicate style that the gut strings demanded, setting aside his more vigorous personal style with which he plays the suites, and instead encouraged the more traditional baroque style, giving me some very good advice on how to achieve the appropriate sound. He was even quick to transpose material from the music, to demonstrate for me, into a lower key, in which I was playing (as I was in a baroque tuning). He gave such great advice to help me clean up some problematic spots in the piece and to help it flow better.

To the other two players in the masterclass, he gave excellent feedback, capturing the passion of Saint-Saëns' Allegro Appassionato and the aggressive intensity of Shostakovich's Cello Sonata in A Minor. For the audience also it was quite educational as he gave anecdotes of the composers to support points he made about the music. Altogether, it was an awesome and enlightening class, and I count myself lucky to have been a part of it.

Mattison Warren

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