Sunday, August 31, 2008


Things are going well. I just finished my intensive week of Dutch lessons, and 'real' school starts tomorrow morning. But not really, since the first day of school is just a big partay. New student orientation all day, followed by a concert and partay in the evening. Because in music school, that's just the way we roll. I still haven't gotten my timetable, so hopefully we'll get those tomorrow.....
This weekend was the Uitmarkt in Amsterdam, which is a big outdoor festival that celebrates all the different cultural things in and around Amsterdam. It spans all along the Eastern docklands of Amsterdam, and consists of a series of booths and performance areas. Every single arts organization you could think of seemed to have a booth - and they went on forever. And a lot of them were giving out free stuff, so that was awesome. They were grouped according to which 'art' it was too, music, theatre, dance, museums, libraries....... A lot of the theatre/music booths were selling tickets too, so you could pick up a season schedule and buy your tickets right there. Pretty nifty. So I was wandering all around the Uitmarkt, picking up free swag from all the booths, and I wandered over to the museum quarter and saw a big stage set up for what appeared to be an orchestra. So I found a schedule to see who was supposed to be playing - and it was none other than the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra! For any of you who don't understand how cool this was, the Concertgebouw is one of the best orchestras in the wooooorld. They're based in Amsterdam, but this year they're touring Japan, Italy, and England as well. Since I had about an hour and half to kill before the Concertgebouw was supposed to go on stage, I decided to bike to the Vondelpark and try and read my NL Cosmo magazine I had picked up.
The weather was amazing yesterday (and it's still really nice today), so the park was packed full of people. I found a little piece of grass off one of the side trails, and sat down under a tree with my magazine. After painfully reading some Cosmo (including an interview with Scarlett Johanssen in which she claims she's not sexy, and is just a normal girl), I headed back down to the Uitmarkt. It was a madhouse down there. I have never seen so many bicycles in my life. Near where the Concertgebouw was playing they had an entire field set aside for bikes, but that was full and there were bikes locked along the side of the road for miles. If I had to guess, I'd say a million. But it really only made sense to bike to the Uitmarkt - its sort of off on its own, not close to anything, and the weather was really nice. I also discovered that my school was part of the Uitmarkt, since its on the docklands too (the Oosterdok) and so they were using the three performances spaces in the CvA for Uitmarkt stuff. But back to the Concertgebouw.
They were supposed to go on at 4, but (surprise surprise) the 'host' came on stage at 4 to say that they were going to wait until 4:30, so that the sun wouldn't as much in the musician's eyes. Anyone who's played an outdoor concert knows that although it's great when it's not bad weather, it inevitably means there's major sightline problems due to the blinding sun. As it was, they went on at 4:30 with half the orchestra wearing their sunglasses. It was a good time though. They played Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, and then topped it off with a Dvorak Dance. The performance was also broadcast on TV, and so they had a big viewscreen behind the stage showing what they were broadcasting. It was highly amusing to a) watch the pages of the conductors score flapping in the breeze, b) watch the people in the audience try not to look surprised when the camera cut to them, and c) watch orchestra members try to act normal while they have a camera in their face. After the Uitmarkt I biked home and discovered that I had a wee bit of a sunburn. Tomorrow school starts, and the adventure continues.........

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