It's been a busy week - and it's not over yet! On Monday evening I went with my friend Simona to check out a big band that her friend from Bucharest plays in - The Konrad Kosseleck Big Band. They have a standing date at the Sugar Factory once a month, and every month they are joined by some special guests. This month's guests were two tap dancers. At first I was skeptical - I mean, tap dancers? Seriously. But it was actually pretty cool. One of the tap dancers was definitely more interesting than the other to watch, more of a showman. But they ended up like being another percussion section. They even got their own improv solos just like all the other instruments. It was pretty cool. On Tuesday evening I went to Utrecht to rehearse with a community orchestra. The conductor is Canadian, and is a friend of my friend Melissa. He needed an extra violist to fill out the section, and I was hankering to do some orchestra-ing. It's actually kind of cool because they're playing the Walton Viola Concerto with a viola teacher from Amsterdam as the soloist. It's fun to be playing on the other side of the concerto, since you spend so much time practicing the stupid solo parts of concertos. The orchestra is all amateur players and they're all just playing for the love of it, which is refreshing. Somehow that joy can get sucked out of professionals, even music students. Music schools almost have a survival of the fittest atmosphere in that respect - I know many people who've finished their music degree and then decided to go to law school, or fashion design school, or business school. Or whatever. Anyways, I digress. Wednesday I just had rehearsals and rehearsals and more rehearsals. Then this morning I had to get up ungodly early (7 am!) because I had to catch the train at 8:50 to Rotterdam for a coaching. On Tuesday I'm playing in an end exam for a friend of Melissa's, Xabier. He's in the tango department of the Rotterdam Conservatory. Yes, that's correct. They have a tango department. They actually have a whole world music and dance academy, and the tango department is within that. So we're playing a piece by a contemporary South American composer (that has tango influences), and then a Piazolla tango. The coaching was quite funny, if only for his teacher's declarations about tango. "Tango is like a conversation with your friends, and everybody's talking at once. Tango is the difference in a car between leather seats and plastic seats". But it was really interesting, and a good coaching. Unfortunately I didn't really get to enjoy Rotterdam, since immediately after our coaching I had to run for the tram so that I could catch the train back to Amsterdam to try and make my next coaching at 2. The difficulty level was that my coaching in Rotterdam went until 12:30, and I had to catch a tram to the station, and then the train to Amsterdam takes about an hour. Then I had to hi-tail it from the train station to school. Luckily school's very close to the train station, and when I arrived at Amsterdam Centraal in the morning I deliberately locked my bike up beside the station in the direction of school, so I basically ran to my bike, unlocked it, biked like a fiend for 4 minutes to the school, parked my bike in the square out front, locked it, and made a run for the coaching. I was only 15 minutes late, which was impressive considering that my train didn't get into Centraal until about 2:05. This coaching was for my viola flute and harp trio - the Debussy sonata for viola flute and harp. The coaching was with the flautist's teacher, and it was really helpful because it's a very confusing piece and it's easy to just be totally lost in the mishmash. So she really helped us figure everything out and make sense of things. By the end of that coaching I was kind of exhausted, partly from the lack of sleep, and partly from the stress of rushing around all morning. So I ended up sitting in the canteen at school for about an hour I think, just visiting with people. Then I ended up going for dinner with my friend Hayley at the new restaurant that just opened in the library next door. That frikkin library now has two gourmet restaurants in it. The big fancy one on the top floor, and this smaller one at the front of the building that just serves pasta and pizza. But they make it all fresh, including the sauces. My favourite part was how they cook the noodles - they have the noodles all packaged by serving, and they just grab a package of whatever type of noodle you want and pop it in what looks like a deep fryer. It's the same idea as the deep fryers for french fries at fast food restaurants, but instead of boiling oil you have boiling water - ie. you put the noodles in a little basket thing and lower them into the water. It was pretty nifty, I must say. And tasty. Now I'm just chilling at home, trying to take it easy. Tomorrow evening I have the concert of Dutch chamber music that we're playing the Escher in, and then on Saturday I'm probably going to Gronigen to play a concert with the community orchestra. I'm quite a prodigious traveller this week!