Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hootin and a hollerin

So this week was a little more busy. Things are starting to pick up - probably a good thing, though I was really enjoying my ample free time. I started rehearsals for Black Angels, which I'm playing for another Masters student's final exam in December. I also played in a clarinet Masters final exam today, in a little orchestra she put together to accompany her clarinet concerto. It was a jazzy number, by Artie Shaw. Pretty fun stuff. On Wednesday evening the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor the Kunsten had their big back to school partay. The AHK is a big umbrella school, and the Conservatory serves as the music faculty of it. They also have dance, theatre, and art departments. Film too I think. It's an arts school. But each department works pretty autonomously, in our own buildings scattered across the city. So they threw this big party and rented out the entire Milkweg, a big club off the Leidseplein. The Milkweg has lots of different rooms with different performance spaces, and they had something different happening in each. A big dance hall with a DJ and a live band who played a set around midnight, another hall where bands from the Conservatory played all night, a movie theatre upstairs where you could watch student's films, and then two little cafe areas. The party started at 8 pm and was supposed to go until 4 am. I left around 1:30 because I was tired, but the place was packed! The Conservatory alone has around 1000 students, so once you got all the faculties of the AHK together, there was a ton of people. I think the idea of having a big back to school bash for the whole AHK is a good idea, but the problem with a big party at the Milkweg was that it was really bad for meeting people you don't know. I enjoyed all the music and dancing and stuff, but it was so loud everywhere that you could barely hear when somebody told you their name, let alone have a conversation with them. So basically everybody hung out with all their friends they already knew. But it was fun, and was officially the first time I've been out to any kind of nightlife since I moved here.
I've also been working on my plan to become more culture-fied. I finally got a bank account on Thursday, so as soon as I get some money in it I'm going to get my Museum card - free admission to lots of museums across the country for a year. I'm also going to get a korting kaart for the trains, which costs 50 euros but I get 40% off every time I ride the train. And since I want to try and explore the Netherlands I think it will pretty much pay for itself over the year. It's basically the difference between paying for a 9 euro return trip or a 16 euro return trip. And I went to my first concert at the Concertgebouw last night. I got a rush ticket for 10 euros, and saw Antssi Kartunnen solo with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. I played Bloch's 3rd quartet with Antssi 3 summers ago at Domaine, so it was cool to see him playing. In Amsterdam. I have to say that although I didn't really like the piece he played, he rocked at playing it. It was a new cello concert by a Finnish composer, and aside from the 2nd movement which reminded me of Apocalyptica, it was actually kind of boring. It sounded like an orchestration exercise on all the cool effects you can make with an orchestra and all the cool effects you can make with a cello. Booooring. The RCO also played some Britten, which was amazing. The Messa di Requiem, which I'd actually never heard before, and then selections from Peter Grimes. I saw the Canadian Opera Company's production of Peter Grimes 3 years ago, and it was nice to hear some of the music again. Man, that Britten sure knew how to write good music. And there was a kick-ass viola solo in one of the 'sea interludes', so that was awesome as well. Fairly soon I should start rehearsing with a Piano Quintet, as well as a flute-viola-harp trio. And my teacher also put my name forward for some kind of funky 20th century ensemble, so we'll see about that. Until then I will continue to lock myself in a practice room and explore the overtones of my viola. It's my new project.
Oh yeah, and I mailed my absentee ballot for the election yesterday. Plus, CBC's Your Turn asked people to fill in the sentence "President________ and Prime Minister _________" for who you wanted to win both the US and Canadian elections, and so I emailed them and said President Obama and Prime Minister Layton, and I got my sentence read on the air! My friend Tim in Vancouver heard it on the news, and so I was joking that I could out-election him even from another continent! Good times. I have to say that I still feel very connected to the election even from all the way across the ocean because of the miracles of the internet. I can watch the Canadian news online, and see all the different parties TV commercials and everything. I even watched Bob's interview with Mike Duffy! (my cousin and NDP candidate for Battlefords-Lloydminster. Facebook helps too. It's all the rage in this election. So it's nice that I can still be engaged and involved in the electoral process even from a gazillion miles away. If you haven't already, check out Toronto NDP candidate David Sparrow's hilarious videos that spoof the Mac/PC ads. "I'm a NDP....and I'm a PC. I mean, C." Classic.

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