Millennials Can Survive Without WiFi!

The International Music Festival of the Adriatic (IMFA) takes place every summer. String players, pianists, singers, and composers in the program will experience three weeks of collaborative music making in the inspirational setting of the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy. This diverse region of Italy enjoys a blend of Italian, Slovenian, and Austro-Hungarian culture, making it a wonderful region in which to explore and to perform a wide variety of music. To learn more about the program, visit the IMFA website.

Ciao! My name is Sarah Bauer. I’m a cellist from Luther College and am currently one of 39 students at IMFA (International Music Festival of the Adriatic) in Duino, Italy. For those of you who have no idea what IMFA is, which is probably most of you, I thought I’d lead you through an average day here at the festival.


This is when my roommates and I try to get out of bed in time for breakfast, but more often than not fail due to the temptations of more sleep. Eventually we get up around 8:15 and after looking out the window to our gorgeous view (see right), make it down to breakfast by 8:30. Breakfast here is usually pretty small. Hot dishes such as eggs and potatoes aren’t as common, but we do get chocolate or Nutella rolls for breakfast, which can’t be taken for granted. 


Daily announcements start as we’re greeted with “Boungiorno a tutti!” and then we stumble through our numerous handouts to try and figure out if we’re saying the correct words in Italian. We’re all currently learning an Italian song together, so as we practice, the instrumentalists slowly scoot closer to the vocalists in the group to cover up any wrong notes they may be singing.


Coaching begins and groups work on a variety of pieces with different coaches in order to get the most out of their playing. Most of the string players are in two chamber groups while singers and pianists are in one so they have more time to work on their solo repertoire. This goes until 3:15 with a lunch break and some practice time in-between.


At 3:30 we have either an instrumental masterclass or a chamber masterclass. An instrumental masterclass is when we divide up into groups of people who play the same instrument as one another. Then each person in the group gets about 20 minutes to play a piece they've been working on and receive feedback from the instructor. A few days ago we had a guest cellist from Slovenia who teaches in the United States come to our masterclass and I felt very lucky to play for him and receive such instructive feedback on my performance. Chamber masterclasses are a very similar format, but all of the instrumentalists watch three groups perform and receive feedback from one of the members of faculty. 


FREE TIME! During free time many groups try to meet with one another to rehearse or hang out together while other spend their time practicing solo repertoire until dinner at 6:45. Other people will go to Mickey’s to have some drinks, walk and get gelato, go to the porta to watch the sunset, play card games, or simply socialize and make new friends.


The general consensus here is that people are having loads of fun and learning so much musically. I’m continually amazed by how much I’ve grown as a musician already and am looking forward to progressing even further throughout the rest of my time here. 

Miscellaneous fun facts

My brother decided he hated me after I sent him pictures of the view from my window.

I managed to learn everyone’s names within the first four days of the festival.

While the festival has been fun, the WiFi here is absolutely horrible and requires logging in again every 15 minutes at least, hence the title of the blog.

My favorite flavor of gelato is lemon.

Theodore Dubois’ Piano Quartet in A minor is one of my new favorite pieces, and I’ve been so happy to perform it with such talented people.

My mom will be relieved to read this blog post and see that I am alive and having a good time.

Thanks for reading! Most of the future posts will be written by other students participating in IMFA and talking about their experiences. This way a wider array of experiences can be shown at the festival. I hope you enjoy, it’s time for me to have a Spritz!

Our view from the dorm
Watching Tosca in Trieste!
Performing at the castle in Duino
Fun in Trieste