European Blues & Roots Masterclass

About us

Steve Baker  -  Artistic Director
Robert Koch  -  Registrations and Logistics

At a time when summer music camps are springing up like mushrooms, the lasting appeal of the European Music Workshops, which has now been held for eight consecutive years in Alsace, speaks volumes for the event. We're now preparing for the 9th edition!

One reason for its success is the underlying concept of offering parallel courses for different instruments: this opens up countless opportunities for students from the various classes to interact and put what they learn into practice by playing with other instrumentalists and singers in the evenings and at the final public concert. Another reason is the excellence of the instructors, all of whom are highly regarded professional musicians and performers with many years of teaching experience.

I first encountered French political journalist and harp enthusiast Robert Koch in 2004 when he took part in a harmonica workshop I was giving in Vienna. Later that same year he attended a summer course I held in Tuscany and also came to my Harmonica Masters Workshops in Trossingen, Germany, where we got to know one another better. Soon we had started fantasizing about organising an independent musical masterclass ourselves. In 2008 Robert's wife Fabienne discovered the "House of Music" Le Kleebach, situated near Munster in Alsace, which appeared to be an ideal location to realize our plans. As an Alsace native based in nearby Colmar, Robert was perfectly placed to take care of the local organisation both before and during the event, while I could put together the team of instructors and deal with the public relations side. We reserved the venue and started work.

Our first event there took place in August 2009 and was attended by 21 students from 6 different European countries (Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria), ending with a public concert on the final evening. The atmosphere was convivial and relaxed, Le Kleebach turned out to be the perfect venue and the combination of exciting workshops in beautiful surroundings, lengthy evening sessions on the terrace and first class catering with Alsatian flair made for an unforgettable experience at an affordable price.

This has led to sequels every year since and many attendees have become regulars who come back again and again to experience the joy of playing music with like-minded souls in a beautiful setting with a magical vibe. People come in order to play, unleashing a remarkable amount of creative energy in the process. The workshops provide a truly supportive environment which encourages this to happen and fosters a great sense of community.

Starting in 2010, we began encouraging the students to form groups and put together their own musical program to be performed at the final concert. This has become an important feature of the event and was expanded in recent years to include coaching sessions where all instructors help the different groups to hone their repertoire and offer advice on arrangements. 2016 was a record year for us with 54 participants and a total of fourteen (!) groups presented a program of over an hour in length which met with an excellent reception from the local audience before the instructors' concert. For students this is a great opportunity to put what they have learned into practice and then perform it in public. In 2017 it will again be a central aspect of the event.

We are now accepting bookings for the 9th European Music Workshops in Le Kleebach from July 31st - August 6th 2017 and would be delighted to welcome you there for an unforgettable musical holiday with a great team in a wonderful location. Share the magic at Le Kleebach!

Steve Baker, December 2016

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