Montreal in the fall. With the trees ablaze with colour and the bustle of students seeing old friends, I could hardly imagine leaving. But after watching a presentation on McGill’s exchange programs I knew I wanted to apply. Fast forward eight months, a language exam and visa application later, and I was on a plane to Austria to study at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The first week of school in Vienna was spent just like McGill—everyone else is partying (Oktoberfest instead of Frosh), but music students need to take placement auditions.
After chamber music and orchestra auditions, it was a relief to arrive at violin technique class with Prof. Michael Frischenschlager. I had been working with Prof. Frischenschlager for several years as he is a regular guest of the Schulich School of Music and the Orford Music Academy. The large number of international professors and guests at the Schulich School provides students the opportunity to build international connections, regardless of whether they go on exchange.
A leap of joy after the placement audition results was followed by me running to the practice rooms. In my hands was the dream schedule of a violinist.
If I was nervous for anything, it was playing solo orchestra excerpts for Prof. Kroisamer. I have been a fan of the Vienna Philharmonic since childhood and definitely didn’t want to disappoint my younger self! In the end, my fears were for nothing and I thoroughly enjoyed the course.
Despite having a questionably up-to-date LinkedIn account, I tended to meet Schulich School alumni in Vienna on a monthly basis! Some highlights were meeting the Montreal Symphony Orchestra during their tour under Kent Nagano and watching Charlotte Jefferies and Sara Casey sing in the Vienna State Opera (Charlotte, Sara, and I performed "Venus and Adonis" with Opera McGill together in 2014!).
Studying abroad has enriched me and my understanding of classical music. Going on exchange was a wonderful experience for me. I gratefully thank the Schulich School of Music, McGill Abroad, and all the people that made my exchange possible.