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Double-Bass Masterclass
by Michel Veillon

“Natural" and "fundamental” were the words instilled into everyone’s mind after Double-Bass Maestro Michel Veillon from Switzerland, graced the UP College of Music with his presence by giving a master class last February 19, 2018. Born on February 2, 1953 in Château d’Oex, Vaud (Suisse) Michel Veillon began his musical career studying the violin at the Conservatoire de Montreux and joined the folk music group “Sarclon” which was subsequently awarded first prize in French song at the Belgian Festival de Spa in 1979. After receiving a master’s degree in Economics of Lausanne University, he continued studying the contrabass at the Conservatoire de Lausanne.

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Since 1984, Veillon has been professor of the contrabass in the professional degree program at the Conservatoire de Lausanne (Hemu). Later on, in 1998, he has been appointed a position at the prestigious International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland. He has also given master classes in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and USA as well as participant as a jury member in contrabass and music competitions.

The two-hour masterclass featured double bass students from the UP College of Music. The event was attended by several faculty members, students and alumni of the college, who were all delighted as evidenced by their positive feedbacks. "I learned a lot about efficiency on left-hand fingerings and on the individual positioning of the fingers", said students Prince Santiago and Miko Villena, who performed the 2nd movement of Dragonetti's Double-Bass Concerto in A major, and J.S. Bach's Bouree No. 1 and 2 from Cello Suite No. 3, respectively.

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Another notable comment was from Joey Biato, who played the 1st movement of Koussevitzky's Concerto for Double-Bass: "Prof. Veillon really emphasized on the importance of the discipline on observing the fundamental left-hand technique and its importance on phrasing the lines, in which one should be extra-sensitive too." This was seconded by Enrico Tuazon and Paolo Alcantara, cello and double-bass alumni of the UP College of Music: "His teaching approach on both the technical and musical aspects of the pieces were very informative and natural, as shown in his way of teaching phrasing by actively singing the lines, and his effective ways of finger positioning logical to the physiology of the body.” In addition, for me as a guitarist, Veillon's manner of teaching made all of his points and concepts easy to understand and later on be used and applied, not just by double-bass majors, but by all musicians alike.

The masterclass concluded with a quick lecture on technical exercises, which was followed by an extra one-on-one encounter with the performers after the masterclass, giving them reminders on how to study their pieces effectively. Maestro Michel Veillon was exceptionally an inspiration to the double bass students and as well as his audience by greatly exemplifying generosity and his burning passion and dedication to music and pedagogy.

--- Ricardo Juanito Balledos

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