My Summer Experience: Elizabeth & Evangeline Canfield

We traveled to Greece to attend the Summer Piano Institute

Elizabeth and Evangeline Canfield
Musical Arts

As the wing of the plane dipped toward the earth, I got a glimpse of the ever-enlarging scenery 16,000 feet below. Despite wispy clouds and the haze of the beating sun, I could perceive a mountainous island surrounded by a glistening sheet of Mediterranean blue.

The island, one of the world's most tranquil vacation destinations, has been the focus of literary novels, historical inquiries and cultural events. But for my fellow traveler and myself, it was the meeting place of the Summer Piano Institute in Corfu, Greece.

Drawing musicians from around the world, inspiring pianists came to study with experienced artists in a wonderful weeklong program that featured lessons, lectures, performances and cultural excursions.

After a smooth landing, I and my traveling companion, a fellow pianist, best friend and identical twin sister Evangeline, joined the throngs of passengers entering the airport terminal. It was no small relief that we got to our destination. Not that either of us mind flying; but when a ticket agent switches your boarding passes for a connecting flight with a couple going to another country, you realize just how lucky you are to have actually reached your destination! (Incidentally, from then on we double checked all of our papers to make sure nothing like that would ever happen again!)

Immediately after passing customs, we were whisked into the arms of Greek hospitality. Thoroughly organized and equally prepared, the directors of the festival took care of transportation and boarding accommodations so that our trip proceeded without further incident. The location of the festival was entirely breathtaking! Housed within the confines of an ancient fortress, Ionian University, where the piano festival was held, bore evidences of ancient days and foreign ways.

The daily trek from our hotel to the festival was no less intriguing. Complete with cobblestone streets that wound through cafés, shops and restaurants of many kinds, the temptation to linger over a delicate scarf or browse through a menu on display was curbed only by the need to meet a festival appointment or by the thirst for a refreshing bottle of water that could be purchased from a local vendor.

Most importantly, the festival was musically stimulating as much as it was culturally rewarding. Four teachers, including BGSU alumni Andreas Xenopoulos, and BGSU Professor Robert Satterlee, gave lessons and lectures to students from Greece, China and the United States.

Dr. Ann Chang of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Lambis Vassiliadis of the Ionian University, shared their expertise with participants through the practical application of pianistic skills as well as through lectures and evening recitals. Throughout the week I enjoyed sharing enthusiasm for the piano with instructors who explained subtle nuances of phrasing in a Faure piano duet or sought to uncover the character of a Haydn Sonata. Tuesday and Thursday of that week participants had the privilege of presenting their own recital and performed in concert at the Corfu Reading Society. My contribution was sharing the piano bench with Evangeline to present several selections from Faure's Dolly Suite.

Aside from the musical events, there were a number of opportunities to experience the beauty of Greece. In addition to a boat trip that took us to visit some coastal caves, we went to an Asian Art Museum and explored the edifice and grounds of the Achilleion Palace. Beyond that, Greek culture dictated that plenty of time was reserved for the enjoyment of food. We spent many an afternoon lingering over Greek cuisine or a fresh cup of coffee talking over the day's events or observing those who were passing by.

A unique aspect of traveling for us is how people respond to seeing twins. While most responses are universally the same (mainly, "Are you guys twins?" or the less-polite speechless gawk), one Greek waiter surprised us with a quip, stating as he looked from one twin to the other, "Copy, paste!" Needless to say, we all enjoyed a hearty laugh!

At the closing of the week we were treated to a performance by BGSU's beloved pianist Dr. Satterlee. The final evening all the pianists and teachers gathered together to celebrate the conclusion of the second annual Summer Piano Institute. Although we were sad to leave the island of Corfu, the experiences gathered from the piano program were numerous and rewarding, and we both felt privileged to have the opportunity to attend the festival!

As we took to the skies for our return trip to the states, I was once again reminded of all that we had learned. Coming back I felt like a deeper, richer person with a greater appreciation for experiences like the one I had on that bejeweling island of the Ionian Sea.

Updated: 02/08/2018 04:07PM