So. It's September now. How did that happen? My summer in Canada was great, though way too short. Time really does fly when you're having fun. Domaine was great. Lots of work, but great. I was hungry and tired for 4 weeks, and was super busy with practicing, rehearsing and playing. And some fun as well. But only a little, because you know how much of a no-funster I am. After partying a little bit too hard on the last night, I had to pack up my life into a suitcase and road trip to Montreal. We introduced my American roommate Heidi to the joy that is Tim Hortons, and I successfully did NOT vomit in the car. So props all around. I spent the night in Montreal, and then the next day made my stealth visit to Saskatoon. It was a big surprise for my mom - my dad bought the ticket for me secretly, and she thought I was just going back to Toronto after Domaine. My dad told her that he ordered an anniversary present for her off the internet, but he wasn't sure when it would arrive. He said he thought it would probably be there by his birthday, which happened to be the day that I flew in. I got in around dinner time, and my little sister came and picked me up at the airport and drove me home. She went in first (since she was expected to be there for my dad's birthday dinner), and I waited in the car for about 5 minutes and then just walked in the front door and said, "Honey, I'm home!". Mom was setting the table for dinner, and she just sort of stared and me and said, "What are you doing here????". It was hilarious. And my dad now has a saintly reputation with all the girls my mom works with. How romantic for him to fly his daughter home! Oh, how sweet! Oh, the humanity! So I was 10 days at home. I did all the usual stuff like doctor and dentist, and pretty much just visited with my family and saw as many friends as I could fit in. I drove out to North Battleford one afternoon to visit my Grandma Woloshyn who was staying out with my aunt and uncle there, and I spent 4 days up at Emma Lake at my Grandma and Grandpa Theisson's cabin. Anne was there for 2 days, but she had to go back to Saskatoon and work on Monday, so I hung out with the parents for an extra day. We went fishing in P.A. Park, and dad caught 4 fish (one of which he had to throw back because the limit is 3), and I caught 0. So I amused myself by talking in silly accents with my mom while I caught copious amounts of weeds. Good times. Then after Saskatoon it was back to Toronto, and straight into Tomchelle wedding craziness. I found out when I returned that I was in charge of music for the dinner and dance, and everybody had a million requests for me. The playlist ended up being around 8 hours long, so not everybody got to hear their songs. But that's the way she goes. I also got to catch up with my Cosbey and Zapf families, and I got to meet Ingunn's baby Jonas! Such a cutie. Then I had to pack up my life once more and head back to Amsterdam! I was sure that I would have way too much stuff to cram into only 2 suitcases, but I actually managed to fit everything. I flew the red-eye overnight to London, then had a 4 hour stop-over there and caught a flight to Amsterdam. I got in at around 5 pm, and got back to my place, showered, ate dinner, and then headed out to a party. In my defence though, it was the going-away party for my friend Hayley who was moving back to England, so I had to go! But by the time I actually went to bed I think I'd been up for around 36 hours. Like, deliriously tired. But now I'm back, and getting back into the routine of things. I have a pretty busy September coming up as well - I'm playing in two people's exams, a concerto grosso concert, a small recital at Amsterdam City Hall, and I'm rehearsing for a chamber music concert I'm playing in early October. I was doing my scheduling today, and I was thinking it's a good thing I only have one class a week! Well, yeah, and my research. I'm supposed to hand my first draft of that in soon........good thing I can't sleep on planes, because I did the most work on it while I was flying from Toronto to London. A big 6 hour chunk of work. While watching crappy movies like "My Life in Ruins". Nia Vardalos should really branch out from the whole voiced-over 'Greek people are strange but lovable' movies. But that's a discussion for another day. Enjoy the photos of St-Irenee/Domaine Forget, since on the last night there someone broke my camera and so I have no pictures from anything after Domaine. Drunken eejits.
So I've not been doing a lot, just enjoying Canada! I had a bunch of errands that had to be done in Toronto, such as getting my viola appraised etc, and other than that I've mostly just been hanging out. I spent 5 days up at my Aunt Margaret's cabin in Muskoka, and my cousins Fred and Larry came up too so we had a mini-reunion. I haven't seen Fred since the last time we were both up at the cabin together! He goes slightly more often than I do, seeing as how he lives in Ottawa which is only 3-4 hours away. I live in Amsterdam. It's farther. Tonight I'm headed to St-Irénée to attend four weeks of masterclasses at Le Domaine Forget. I'm also going to be getting a big chunk out of my Masters reseach done while I'm there - I've gotten some articles copied from the U of T library, and hopefully I'll be able to come up with something!
So not much is happening, just wrapping up all my loose ends and attempting to pack for my exodus to Toronto on Wednesday. But I thought I'd post a few things so that you guys can hear what I've been up to this year! First is from the finale of the National Viola Competition in February - the piece by Max Knigge for viola soloist and orchestra of violas! The Dutch radio recorded it, and it's available to stream on their website here. Then there's the recording I made of my exam. It's not great quality - I just set up my laptop and the back of the hall and pressed 'record', so the levels aren't great, but it gives you a gist of what I sound like when I play these days. I've uploaded the files here, and you can download and unzip the file to play it. It's in mp4 format, which is like mp3 but not. I'm not sure. That's just what format my computer put them into. And if you want to listen to the recital in order, it's Hindemith-Enescu-Ryan-Rontgen! And last but not least is the recording from Alex Simu's end exam, where I participated by playing in the Modern Baltic Jazz Orchestra. All the pieces except one were written and arranged by Alex, and he plays solo sax/clarinet on all of them. It's Baltic jazz because he's Romanian and you can hear Romanian folk influences in some of the songs, and the one piece that wasn't written by him was written by his friend Bobby who's from Bulgaria! Representin. So you can find that here. Same deal - download, unzip, enjoy!
So according to my mother I should stop playing Mafia Wars on Facebook and post on my blog already! So here we go. I haven't really been doing a lot since my exam. I played in the New Baltic Jazz Orchestra for a jazz sax final exam. We played music that was all composed and arranged by the saxophonist, save one piece that was written by his friend the drummer. So that was pretty cool. Then on Sunday I played in the Klank Kleur festival, playing in the orchestra for the final concert of the festival. On Wednesday I'm playing in a pop music final exam at the Beurs von Berlage called "Unsettled Scores". They've even made a website for it - unsettledscores.com. Scroll down and check out the movie trailer they made for it. I'm not totally sure how Johnny Depp fits into it, but I'm sure all will be explained. Then I'm just partying until my return to the motherland on the 24th. And if by partying you mean sleeping, eating, reading, and watching TV. That's my routine these days. I would be doing fun stuff outdoors, but the weather's been really craptastic. Beautiful Dutch summer. There was about 5 days of nice summer weather, but it was the week before my exam and I missed it! I learned my lesson for next year though - if it's nice out, screw practice! Enjoy it while it lasts......
Ahaha! I'm now back to non-scheduled programming, seeing as how my exam was last night and I passed. So now I don't have anything to work on. Technically. I have a few concerts to rehearse for, but the holidays have begun. To celebrate this, I slept until 1 pm today. I know how to party. But there isn't too much to relate about what I've been doing since I got back from London. Just practicing and trying to stay out of trouble :) My exam went quite well, aside from slight wrong note issues in my Hindemith solo sonata, I feel good about the rest of the pieces. I recorded it on my laptop, and recordings are available upon request! I will of course have to send it to my mother, because she loves to listen to me. Y'know, so she can hear how her investment is doing. My dad says I'm her hobby, but I see it more as an investment. In me. But anyways, I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing with myself for the three weeks until I go to Toronto. I'm idly thinking about going to Belgium, mostly because it's the cheapest place to get to that's not in the Netherlands. But we shall see. Over and out.
So I'm back in Amsterdam, and buckling down to practicing until my exam in 2 weeks. Then I really get to do whatever I want!!!! Until Domaine. But whatever. Anyways, London was amazing. It was so what I needed. A little break, but also because I'd been before and also because I was there for 6 whole days I didn't ever feel the manic need to sight-see that I sometimes do when I'm on holidays. I basically just hung out with Carmen and Dan, and also did some sight-seeing. So fabulous. Also, I had macaroni and cheese for the first time in a while. It was magical. It's strange the things you miss......I miss ketchup chips and mac n cheese. Anyhoo, London is a ridiculously large city. I'd forgotten what big cities are like. In Amsterdam, you can pretty much get anywhere in 30 minutes (on your bike). Unless you're going from one suburb to another, but even then it's not that big of a city. Just the fact that we bike everywhere attests to that. You wouldn't be able to bike everywhere in London. Unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands. And a death wish. Also I flew into Stansted, which is the farthest airport away from the city. The London City Aiport and Heathrow are both close/in the city, and then Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted are outside the city but connected by train. But of course Ryanair flies into the farthest airport. Probably cheaper airport taxes there. So from Stansted it's a 45-50 minute train ride to Liverpool Street Station, and then from there I got on the Underground. I had to go meet Dan at his office to get the keys cause Carmen was playing out of town that day, but both his office and their house are on the other side of the city from Liverpool St Station. I think it took like 45 minutes on the Underground to get to Dan's work. Anyways, I got into Stansted at 9.30 am, and didn't actually get to Carmen and Dan's until 2 pm. Ridonculous. Anyways, I was so tired and hungry and whatever that I just raided Carmen and Dan's fridge, then went to Sainsbury's to replace what I had pillaged, and then lazed around until Dan got home from work. Then I went with Dan and their neighbours to quiz night at the pub on the corner. It was totally hilarious. And my fountain of useless knowledge came in handy - especially when it cam to identifying random celebrities. The next day I decided to go shopping! In England they have this amazing store called Primark. It's a clothes and whatever store, and it's ridiculously cheap but nice. Also, it has clothes in larger sizes, which is important for me. Half the time in the Netherlands I don't fit the biggest size in the store, and I actually bought a pair of jeans from the plus-size department at H&M......but I always find that plus-size clothes are designed with really big women in mind, so everything's kind of like a variation on the mumu. And while I may be big, I ain't all that fat. So Primark was like shopping heaven. I got a pair of jeans for 8 pounds! And dress pants for 6! OMG! So that was basically my day. Shopping takes a lot outta you. The next day I went and wandered around Oxford Street, and then I decided to go to Fulham Palace. Carmen and Dan live in the area of Fulham, at Fulham Broadway in fact. And so when I looked up Fulham in my Lonely Planet guide (they sort the city by neighbourhood), Fulham Palace was the only entry. Apparently there's nothing else to see there. But Fulham Palace was pretty cool - it was the summer home of the bishops of London from 704 to 1973. It's a sort of hodge-podge of different architectural styles and apparently until 1924 it was enclosed by the longest moat in England. The oldest part to survive is the little red brick Tudor gateway, and the main building dates from the 17th century and was remodelled in the 19th century. But unfortunately for me, it wasn't open the day I visited but I did get to wander the grounds a bit - the palace is run by volunteers, so it's open at very weird times. Then that night I went to see the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, performing Giselle. It's so handy to have musician friends! The next day I didn't really do much of anything, just bummed around. Then on Friday Carmen and I went on a fun field trip to the Hampton Court Palace. Originally built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515, he felt obliged to give it to give it to Henry VIII when he fell into disfavour after being unable to procure a divorce between Henry and Catherine of Aragon. As soon as he aquired the palace, Henry set to work expanding it, adding the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, and the sprawling kitchens. By 1540 it was one of the grandest and most sophisticated palaces in Europe, but Henry only spent on average three weeks a year there! hen in the late 17th century, William and Mary employed Sir Christopher Wren to build an extension, what is now known as the "Georgian rooms". The result is a hilariously awesome blend of Tudor and baroque style (though my lonely planet calls it "a "beautiful blend"). They put on a daily program, and on the day we were visiting it just so happened that the program was the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine Parr. They had a bunch of different things that you could go to, but I'll get to that later. In the Tudor part of the palace, you enter King Henry's apartments through the Anne Boleyn gateway, and into the Great Hall - which apparently has the country's best hammer-beam roof. Then onto the Great Watching Chamber where guards controlled access to the king. Then there's the smaller Page's Chamber, and the Haunted Gallery. Apprently Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, managed to evade her guards and ran screaming down the corridor in search of the king. Her woeful ghost is said to do the same thing to this day........Then there's the Chapel Royal, which is still used as a place of worship today. There's also the Tudor kitchens, which have ben fitted out to look as they might have done in the Tudor days, including palace "servants" who turn the spits, stuff the peacocks, and frost the marzipan with real gold leaf. Mmmmm.....gold....... And there's also the wine cellar, which handeled the 300 barrels each of wine and ale consumed here every year in the 16th century. And this is the room where we went to part of the schedule - Henry VIII enjoying a last drink before his wedding. It was quite funny, and I even got a kiss on the cheek from the king! Then we checked out the King's and Queen's apartments from the Georgian wing. We went for lunch in the Tudor wing of the house, and I had some delicious good old fashioned beef and ale pie. It was really good. And then we went exploring the gardens. We saw the Real Tennis Courts, dating from the 1620s and is designed for the kind of tennis developed by playing in monastery courtyards - bouncing off the walls is totally kosher, and the ball stays in play as long as it hits the wall below a certain line. They still use the court too - when we were there, there was a game going on! And we visited the 800 metre long maze, planted in 1690. We managed to make our way through it pretty quickly, though I'm not sure we ever really made it to the centre. But it's hard to tell, cause it's a maze and all. Then we headed back into London, and I went to another show at Covent Garden that Carmen was playing in, but this time she was playing with a quartet and it was a program of all newly choreographed modern dance works. She only played in one of the dances, but it was a very interesting and diverse program. They even had a piece that was choreographed to a mixture of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, and Obama's election night speech. Then after the show, we headed to the Maple Leaf, a Canadian bar right behind Covent Garden. It was quite funny actually. They had a stuffed bear. And hockey jerseys on the wall. And we drank Sleeman's! It was a little taste of home. If we had gotten there before the kitchen closed, we could have gotten poutine as well. The next day I was planning on going on a Monopoly pub crawl, organized by some people on Couchsurfing.com. But in the morning I just really didn't feel like it. It's a hilarious idea though - you go to all the streets and train stations on the monopoly board, find a pub, and have a drink. And move on. But it's like an all-day venture. Instead I decided to just walk around and see some things I hadn't seen yet. And I ended up walking for approximately 11 km. Crazy. I started out at Fenchurch station, and I walked to St. Paul's Cathedral, and then down the Strand to the courts of Justice, up to Holborn station and the British Museum, then down Oxford Street to Marble Arch, through Hyde Park and across to Kensington Palace, and then I finally hopped on the Underground at Kensington High Street. I got back to Carmen and Dan's at about 2 pm and I was exhausted. I was sitting on their couch looking at my watch like "how can it be only 2 pm? I'm soooo tired!". But I managed to re-group to go to a Eurovision viewing party that a friend of theirs was having. I love Eurovision. I love bad pop music, so it was so awesome. I was rooting for Greece. Don't get me wrong, that kid from Norway was cute, but Greece was the bomb. If you haven't seen or heard it, you should definitely YouTube it. Sakis Rouvas, "This our Night". Amazing. I need to learn how to dance like that. Then on Sunday, all three of us went on a field trip to Greenwich. We wandered around the old marine college, and up to the Royal Observatory. The college was built in the site of the Old Palace of Placentia, where Henry VIII was born in 1491. It was originally built as a hospital for naval pensioners who were wounded in the victory over the French at La Hogue. Commissioned by William and Mary, it was built in two separate halves so it didn't spoil the view of the river from the Queen's House, just above it on the hill. It was turned into a naval college in 1869, and now houses the Trinity College of Music and the University of Greenwich. The two parts that are open to the public are the Painted Hall and the chapel. The Painted Hall is one of Europe's greatest banquet halls. It's covered in "allegorical Baroque" murals by artist James Thornhill, who also painted the cupola of St. Paul's Cathedral. Just off the Upper Hall is the Nelson Room, where Lord Nelson's brandy-enbalmed body was kept for a week before his state funeral at St. Paul's. He died in the Battle of Trafalgar, and to preserve his body before they got back to England, they stuck him in a barrel of brandy. Pretty classy stuff. Across from the Painted Hall is the chepel, decorated in a lighter rococo style. It was originally designed by Wren, but wasn't finished until 1752. And then in 1779 it was badly damaged by a fire and the present interior is actually the work of James Stuart and was completed in 1789. Then we ventured up the hill to the Royal Observatory. Built in 1675 on orders from Charles II, it sits on a hill in the middle of Greenwich Park, was was built to find a way to calculate longitude at sea. The entire globe is divided between east and west at the Royal Observatory, and in the Meridian Courtyard you can put one foot on either side of the meridian and straddle the two hemispheres. Which is totally did. Every day at 1 pm the red time ball drops at the top of the Royal Observatory (it's on a spire), as it has done since 1833. This was so that ships moored below on the Thames could set their watches and clocks to Greenwich Mean Time - just wait for the ball to drop and you know it's 1 pm. After the observatory we headed back into town and hit up the Greenwich Market. We passed this shop that's directly beside Greenwich Park, and markets itself as the first shop in the world (because it's the first shop on that side of the meridian). Very funny stuff. Then we headed back into town, and I had to pack. So much fun. Not. I had to catch a bus at 4.20 am to get to Liverpool Street Station in time to catch the 5.10 Stansted Express, and then when I got to Stansted I almost missed my flight because everything took forever!!!! It was so frustrating. They make you check in on these "Express Check-In" kiosks, but then you have to stand in this very huge line to drop your baggage. I was just lucky that some very nice people let me cut in front of them, because I definitely would have missed my flight otherwise. Then, security was ridiculous. Those Brits are so paranoid, though I guess they're the Western nation that's most recently been the victim of terrorism. But this whole liquids thing really pisses me off, because they never ever charged anybody that they arrested with that whole liquid bomb plan, because there was no such thing! But they still won't let you take your perfume with you if it's bigger than 100 ml. But oh my god. I was already late for my boarding, and I go through security, and they pull my bag aside to be checked. Whatever. I know that there's nothing contraband in there. But then I stand around for like 5 minutes while they're all chatting and drinking coffee, and my plane is already boarding. Then they spend 10 minutes searching my bag, making me pull everything out, running it through the scanners, swabbing it for explosives, then scanning it again. It took so long, I was hauling ass running at full tilt through the terminal once I finally got through security. I was just happy I wasn't the last person to board the flight - a few people who obviously got stuck in the same situation boarded after me. But seriously. I couldn't have been there any earlier unless I had spent the night at the airport. Or took a cab, which would have cost me like $100. Next time I just might spend the night, cause then I can leave 3 hours to check in and go through security. So very annoying. But now I'm back in Amsterdam, and back to real life. For a couple of weeks at least, until my exam is over.
It's been a busy time since Queen's Day. We've been heaving into the Enescu project - we had our first run-through at the Theatre School on May 2, and we've done 4 shows since then with our last one tomorrow night. Then on Tuesday morning I'm going to London! Oh, wat leuk! I'm ridiculously excited, because I will see some old friends, and I will see some sights, and I will be on vacation! Only 6 days, but I'll take what I can get. Then it's back to the salt mines until my passing exam is over on June 3. Then I have a couple more things I've agreed to play in, and then before I return to the motherland at the end of June I want to explore Belgium. I have big plans, I just need to come up with the money to put them into motion. One cool thing I've done is I went to the official public ceremony for Dutch rememberance day on May 4th at Dam Square. I saw the Queen, and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima lay a wreath at the war monument. I actually didn't get to see the queen in the flesh, since I couldn't see her through the crowds, but I did see Willem-Alexander and Maxima. Plus on my way to the ceremony the royal motorcade passed me. It was all very sudden - all of a sudden there were cops stopping the traffic, and then these black sedans whizzed by. But I whipped out my phone and managed to grab a picture. It was a very cool ceremony, and they had this choir singing and I swear one of the choir members was my evil twin or something. We looked like we could have been sisters or something. Exact same colouring and face shape and everything. It was hella eerie. But I guess it is true what they say about me - I do look very Dutch! Still, you should all beware of me evil Dutch twin running around out there!!!!! Be vigilant!