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Marina Varriano ’26: MusicAlp Academy in Tignes

Project Date:
Project Date: Summer 2023

During my time at MusicAlp, I studied with Professor Romano Pallottini, whose contagious energy and passion for music made each lesson enjoyable and memorable.

About the Experience

This summer, I attended MusicAlp Academy in Tignes, France with the support of the Benenson Award in the Arts. MusicAlp Academy brings together musicians from around the world for music education and performance, giving me the opportunity to study classical piano for two weeks surrounded by dedicated and talented musicians.

During my time at MusicAlp, I studied with Professor Romano Pallottini, whose contagious energy and passion for music made each lesson enjoyable and memorable. He emphasized the importance of striking a balance between personal interpretation of the music while staying true to the composers’ wishes and the style of the time period. His suggestions allowed me to play the pieces we worked on in a way that was true to history but still uniquely my own. I also had the chance to sit in on lessons taught by other professors, whose suggestions to other students I was able to incorporate into my own playing. The professors were demanding yet encouraging, motivating me and the other students to work hard to achieve a level of perfection and professionalism with our music that we had not reached before. The advice I learned from the musicians at MusicAlp combined with the guidance I receive from my music professors at Duke will provide me with a scope of musical education and ideas that will help me reach my full potential.

My favorite part of the program was the community among the students. We all shared the common goal of improving our musicianship and supported one another in doing so. As one of the few Americans attending MusicAlp, I developed friendships with people who lived entirely different lives than me despite our common interest in music. My French friends introduced me to everything from their traditional food, to card games they played, to the language they spoke. Since the program took place in the beautiful setting of the French Alps, my friends and I found the time to take walks around the lake, hike in the mountains, and climb on glaciers. As I forged relationships with the other students, we frequently had conversations about our musical aspirations. Hearing about their goals to become professional musicians exposed me to career paths in classical music that I was previously unaware of, inspiring new ways that I can keep music in my life post-graduation.

The program also included six classical music concerts performed by the MusicAlp faculty. The high level of musicianship and professionalism they exemplified made me appreciate the renowned faculty I had the opportunity to work with. I paid close attention to how the professors’ style of play they taught in lessons was clearly demonstrated in their own playing.

I’m certain that I will take with me everything I learned from my experiences at MusicAlp and bring it to my pursuits at Duke, honing the skills I learned to continuously improve and share with my peers. I am so grateful for the Benenson Award in the Arts for facilitating this opportunity that will surely have a lasting impact on me.