Basel, Switzerland, June 2018: News from Nathan Julius
Dear Friends and Supporters of Nathan Julius,
I am delighted to report that Nathan is approaching the end of his first year at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland. This is all thanks to your generosity and support of this amazing young man! We want to thank you for making it possible, and look forward to continuing on his journey with you.
Reports from the head of the vocal department, Evelyn Tubb (also Nathan’s current voice teacher), is that he is working very hard, and that his performances touch the hearts of the Swiss people. Other good news is that Nathan was moved up to the advanced class after only three weeks at Schola! Nathan will be in South Africa in July, and we hope to hear him sing - will keep you in the loop. Please find below Nathan’s letter to you, including some photos of his time in Basel.
Please read Nathan’s letter below
Nathan Julius Newsletter
Dear Friends and Family,
My first semester has been one rollercoaster ride full of emotions. I am so grateful to be in an environment where I can fail and try again. Schola allows its students to try and try again to grow and come as close as possible to per-fection.
The “groot trek” from Cape Town to Basel was exciting. It feels good to be independent and cook for oneself. My diet changed drastically, but for the better, after being a serious meat eater at home I had to adopt a healthier lifestyle due to budget constraints and personal health. Before I started the semester at school, I was informed that I had to lose a bit of weight to use my voice to its full potential. I saw this as an opportunity and lost 10 kgs; I probably picked up some of it at home in February, owing to my grandmother's cooking!
The academic rigor at School is intense. Bachelor and Master students share classes depending on their ability in music. If you are a fast learner who is able, they place you with a year group that challenges you and will ensure growth. At the moment, I am in the second highest sight-singing class (2nd year) although I am still a first year student. We have only one exam session per year and it depends on the lecturers if they want to assess written, practical or both. I love this about Schola because we focus on perfecting our instrument. We do have weekly assignments though, especially in Medieval/Renaissance notation. It means that we have to do transcriptions every week, which is quite stressful - but I cope ‘through prayer and work’. One very interesting class is Renaissance/Baroque dancing which is a 2 hour class every Thursday. It is my favourite class - it also saves me from having to go to the gym! We are constantly jumping and running.
Gregorian chant is also a major subject at Schola, intertwined with theology 101 - ‘for dummies’. These are my most ‘sacred’ classes and 2nd most enjoya-ble sessions with people who share a passion for early music. It takes the form of a session where people come together to make music and discuss ideas. When I arrived at Schola, my first theory lesson was about “Phrygian cadenc-es”, “hexachords”, “la-fah” and funny terms which are part of my music vocabulary now. Schola is currently the biggest school in the world for early mu-sic and having 200 students is sad and great at the same time. ‘Early music’ portrays a very different world and view of music to what we are used to, and I love the approach.
I have met amazing people and made a few good friends. The Cafeteria has such a social buzz, it’s usually the place to land your next gig. Everyone is very friendly, even the French! My friends and I usually have dinner together and the night often ends in a sight-singing session or improvised canons (very NERDY). I have moved into cheaper accommodation with a Swiss friend, also in the 1st year, who plays the recorder.
My voice teacher, Evelyn Tubb, is heaven-sent and is one of the kindest people I know. She has over the past year gradually changed my singing technique, for which I am very grateful. The new technique allows me to sing for longer without any strain on my voice. The goal we set for this year was to sing through the passaggio (a term for the area around the change of registers in your voice - some call it the ‘break’). I am pleased to report that it’s much easier to mix my head and chest registers now. We are also training my tenor range, just to give me more strength at the top and middle ranges. Unfortunately, Evelyn will be retiring so I will have to move to a new voice teacher before the semester is over.
After my first Schola concert on the 21st of November last year, the Rüegg family from Zurich (their son, also Nathan, is at Hilton College), took me with them to Venice to watch the rugby in Padova. Fortunately, South Africa won the game against Italy! Besides the wonderful sport experience, Venice was unforgettable, and I am so grateful to the Rüegg family for looking after me - they are my Swiss family.
Living in Switzerland has been nothing short of amazing. I thank everyone who has made it possible for me to join this amazing institution. I am in your debt, and you are in my heart.
Merci vielmoll und Herzlich dankeschön.
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