Thursday, September 03, 2009

Back to School





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.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh, Canada.


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!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For Your Listening Pleasure

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!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What!!!!!

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......

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The end of real life!

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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back to Real Life








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.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

London Calling!!!





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!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Koninginnedag!


The whole country is recovering from Queen's day (which was yesterday). For some, they're recovering from raging hangovers. For others, they're getting bailed out of jail. And for the politicians, they're trying to figure out why the hell some guy tried to drive his car into the Queen. But more on that later. Queen's day actually starts with Queen's night, which is the night before Koninginnedag. Not the night of Koninginnedag. So for Queen's night I started the party at school, where the student society was hosting Koninginnenacht drinks. Then I met up with Niels, Ana, and Ari, and we decided to hit up the Jordaan, but first we stopped at Niels' place in the Red Light District to drop off stuff and meet up with his brother Jens and their friend Casper. Then we headed over to the Jordaan, to the Noordermarkt. It was insane. So many people. And the cool thing too is that it was mostly Dutch people, which never happens in Amsterdam. So we drank and danced Queen's night away in the Jordaan, migrating around the Prinsengracht. Queen's day didn't begin bright and early, on account of the late Queen's night. Niels and I set out from his place, and headed over to the Nieuwemarkt to get some cash and some food. Two very important things to have. The we just walked. We walked over to Spui, and then Koningsplein, and then decided to go to the Vondelpark. Easier said than done. To get to the Vondelpark we had to leave the canal belt, and it was a huge traffic jam of people. We were on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat and it took us about 25 minutes just to get the one block over the bridge and onto Stadhouserskade. It was just this huge crush of people and everyone was pushing, and to make matters worst they had lined the bridge with stalls for food and stuff, so it was just like this tiny funnel full of people. But we made it through (finally) and into the Vondelpark. The Vondelpark was actually quite nice. It was a more chill atmosphere than the rest of the city. There was a lot of people of course, but they had set up games, or were playing music, or just sitting in the park. Lots of families and kids, so that made it less of a drunken idiot atmosphere than other areas of the city. So we sat in the park for a while, to refuel, and then set out towards Jordaan. We walked all the way down Rozengracht, and then through Dam square and back to Niels' place. It was so noisy, and there were so many people everywhere, and the streets were just covered in garbage. We hung out at Niels' for a while, and then Ana joined us and we went for dinner on the Zeedijk. This really nice Thai place that our dutch class went to in the fall. Then we went back to Niels', and Jens and Casper showed up, and then Ana and I decided to head home. I was so tired, from combined lack of sleep and walking around in the sun all day. But getting home was an experience in itself. There were people everywhere, and I was just glad I hadn't drunk anything but water all day because I almost ran into so many people who just walked out in front of my bike. And the streets were like an obstacle course because of all the garbage and broken glass and everything. Whoa. But I made it home in one piece, and went to bed. I've never had a better sleep. So nice. I read a news story today with the official Koningennedag numbers from the Amsterdam police. Apparently 196 people were arrested in Amsterdam this Koninginnedag. This year, police had announced they would be cracking down on boat revellers. In total, eight people on boats were arrested, including four captains who had drunk too much. Some 36 people fell in the canals. Of them, 27 were on boats which sank. But this doesn't count the people who fell into canals and hauled themselves out, cause we totally saw a guy do that outside of Niels'. I wouldn't want to fall in those canals though, cause they were dirty. Very very dirty. Floating garbage everywhere.
So in addition to Koningennedag being a big country-wide street party, there is an official royal aspect to it. Every year on Koningennedag the royal family makes a traditional return to the Het Loos palace in Appeldorn. This is what they were doing when the "attack" happened. A guy drove his car through the barricades, through a crowd of people (killing 4 and injuring 17 of them), and narrowly missed the big open bus carrying the royal family before hitting a monument. He was a middle-aged Dutch guy from Gelderland who'd recently lost his job and his house, and he has since died from the wounds he received in the crash. I doubt we'll ever know why he did it, but they're saying that this will mark a big change in the accessibility that the public has to the royal family and politicians here. It's not unusual for MPs and ministers to bike to work, and the royal family themselves also bike around town like normal Dutchies. Not the Queen, but the princes and princesses. All in all, public figures in the Netherlands are much less sheltered and unapproachable than they are in most other Western countries, but that's also because nothing like this has ever really happened before. Of course this is all the babblings of newspaper editorials and the like, so we'll see what really results of this all. If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is with subtitles in English of what the announcer is saying - it was all caught on camera by the official TV coverage of the royal family's Appeldoorn visit. video

Sunday, April 26, 2009

1 concert down, 4 to go.




So we had our last orchestra concert today in Amsterdam, and next week the Enescu concerts begin. We've been offered a spot in a festival in Romania in September to perform our Enescu project, but the hang-up is that they don't want to give us any money towards travel or anything. So Simona's going to try and bully them, and then the next step is to apply for funding from organizations. But we have our 'official' invitation to the festival, so hopefully we can come up with the money and go to Bucharest! This past week was pretty crazy - 6 hours of orchestra every day plus rehearsals for Enescu and some valiant attempts at practicing. Big time fun. Friday was our run-out concert to Eindhoven, and the trip was kind of a disaster. They had two big tour busses for us, and we left the school at around 2:45 pm. We made it through the city traffic OK and got onto the ring road expressway. And that's when the fun started. Apparently there was a really bad accident outside of Utrecht that caused the traffic to just stop. And so we slowly inched our way down the highway around Amsterdam. One and a half hours after leaving the school, we were only in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost. We ended up missing our soundcheck altogether, and we barely even made it to Eindhoven in time for the concert! What should have taken about 90 minutes took us 5 hours!!!! It was completely insane. With the amount of time we spent on the bus we could have been in Germany! Or Belgium!
Yesterday was a free day, and I ended up going on an adventure to Kinderdijk with Aida and a friend of hers from the Conservatory in Enschede. Kinderdijk is a small village outside of Rotterdam that is a Unesco protected world heritage site, due to the 19 windmills it has dating from the 1500s. My favourite part about Kinderdijk (apart from the windmills) was that it was in the Gemeente Nieuw-Lekkerland. Which translates as like the township of New Yummyland. Loves it. Anyways, the windmills were very nice, but I must say that it took much longer to get to Kinderdijk then you could ever spend looking at those windmills. But it's one of those things you have to see in Holland, so now that's crossed off the list. Our concert today went quite well, and we had a pretty good turnout for the audience. Now all my classes and stuff are over, and I'm just rehearsing and practicing until my exam in June. Well, except for the 6 days I'm going to London.
Ah yes, I almost forgot my trip last weekend, to the Keukenhof. A big group of Couchsurfers got together and biked from Leiden through the flower field to the Keukenhof itself. It was pretty cool, though there is a limit to how many flowers you can look at in one day. But it was fun, and very pretty. video

Friday, April 17, 2009

Britain's Got Talent

The reality TV show Britain's Got Talent is all over the news this week, on both sides of the pond. Why? Because Britain really does got talent. Hiding around the isles are these gems, like the winner of the first season of BGT, Paul Potts. The Welsh mobile phone salesman who sung a mean opera. If you haven't seen his original audition from two years ago, you must. He is the sweetest man, and he just blew the roof off that place. He's now released his second album, and is a big celebrity. The video of his audition is here.
This season everyone's talking about Susan Boyle, a middle-aged eccentric Scottish lady, who by her own accounts has never even been kissed. But she has a dream, and she's become an instant celebrity ever since her audition hit Youtube. Millions of people have watched her audition, and she's been doing interviews this week with all the major media outlets. And she hasn't even won yet - she's just made it to the semi-finals! If you haven't seen it already, watch Susan Boyle's audition here.
However, my favourite act to audition for BGT so far is the father/son team of Stavros Flatly. They can't sing (that I know of), but boy can they dance. And if you remember that whole Riverdance/Lord of the Dance craze, then this is particularily awesome. So, dear readers, I present to you STAVROS FLATLY!

I'm really updating a lot these days! Wowza. It probably won't last though.....

Sword Lobby

Apart from the mis-spelling of "Amendment" and "lobby", this amused me greatly. Apparently some people tried to attack a woman and her baby with a sword in Saskatoon. And of course it was on 20th Street W. I swear, my 'hood is ridonculous. But one of the users comments on CBC.ca really made me laugh. Here's the link to the story:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2009/04/17/sword-attack.html

And here's the comment that made me laugh:

Ah jeez, here we go... First we'll get the public outcry against swords, then the Sword Ammendment loby will start throwing around the usual rhetoric about how they have the "Right to Bear Blades", then the Concerned Parents Groups coming out about how there's too many swords in schools today, and that Sword Awareness Education should be taught in all public schools... that same old rigamarole every time you hear about a sword in the news.

What's this country coming to, anyways? In times of Canada past, even members of Parliament carried swords, and everyone was fine with it! Heck, the Governor General still gets a mace, right? I've got to say, all this media attention on swords is blowing the whole thing out of proportion, and if anything, will only encourage more people, young and old, to start thinking, "What if I'm out in public and I'm not carrying a sword? I could get hurt!" The last thing we need is every person on the subway or bus to start carrying concealed swords for "personal defense".

We all need to face facts: swords are a part of urban life, made more dangerous by the tight confines of urban life. Movies like "Kill Bill", "Braveheart" and "the Princess Bride" romanticize the sword and give our youth shabby information on their propper care and use. In smaller towns like Saskatoon, swords are mostly used in more traditional roles, like hunting, and are more numerous than you'd expect.

On a final note, let me just say that this isn't about swords; it's about people. Lets all send our prayers to this woman, and remember to teach our children -- as I'm sure she'll teach her child -- that swords can be dangerous if used improperly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another Week, Another Project


We're starting up project week - aka orchestra week from hell. Rehearsals from 10-5 every day, and then I'll have other rehearsals and practicing to do on top of that. I'm also trying to shake this cold I've had for weeks. I got it on one of the first really sunny days here, where I went to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, and ended up getting a cold (from the cold ocean breeze) and a sunburn (from the shiny sun). It was a bang-up day. But since then the weather has gotten quite nice - yesterday it was a scorching 21 degrees! It's cooling down a bit now, supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow. But it's supposed to be nicer again on the weekend, which I sincerely hope it will be, because I've heard rumblings about renting a boat on Sunday. Canal boat party! Anyways, I've just been practicing and rehearsing, yada yada yada. I had a lesson with Nobuko yesterday, and she said that in the competition in February she was the one on the judges panel rooting for me - which I can only take to mean that the others were all against me. They will pay! Anyways, apparently I move too much when I play. I think this is hilarious, because 6 years ago the major complaint teachers had with me was that I didn't move at all and that I needed to emote more. Ah well. You win some, you lose some. Today I did some spring cleaning, and I went all out on my room. It's now the cleanest it's been since I moved in. I cleaned and dusted and vacuumed and washed everything. It's amazing. Also, today I was offered a place in the Jeunesses Musicales World Youth Orchestra for a project in Spain during May and June, but I had to turn it down because it conflicts with my performance exam at school. Totally bogus! I could really use a month in Spain. But I suppose passing into next year is also something I could use. Currently I'm still trying to decide when I'm going to come back to Canada in the summer, though I'm now leaning towards late June. I gotta decide though, cause I gotta book my ticket!!! Any thoughts or suggestions?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Facebook is a Monumental Waste of Time. I love it.....

So for those of you who aren't on Facebook, it has all these annoying/awesome quizzes that you can take. Most of them are totally bogus, like which Star Trek the Next Generation character would you be (Lt. Cmd. Geordie LaForge), what your ideal job is (doctor/nurse), or what your political ideology is (very liberal). But this particular quiz I just took was totally genius, so I thought I would share it with all my non-Facebook friends. The quiz was "Which mode do you live in?", as in which musical mode. Music has modes, which anyone who had to suffer through musical theory knows. Certain modes are quite commonly recognizable, like Dorian which is basically a natural minor scale that goes whole step-whole step-half step (repeat). Used a lot in medieval music. Think Greensleeves. Anyways, apparently the mode I should be is Locrian Mode. And they described is as the following:

You live in crazy world, aka Locrian Mode. This is the most unstable of all the modes because its tonic triad contains a tritone. You probably have no friends because nobody can figure out your tonality. You can alter your tones to seem normal-ish, but when you reveal your true self all will go awry. Maybe that's what you want, though.

I love the part about altering my tones to seem normal-ish. Aw, so true. Anyways I was highly amused by this so I thought I'd share.

Bad Memory




I forgot something really ridiculously hilarious that I did, and it was only this weekend. I think I mentioned I went to the World Minimalist Music festival at the Muziekgebouw aan t'IJ. Maybe I didn't. But the hilarious part is that I went to this piece by Erik Satie, the Vexations, which is 20 hours long. Of course I did not stay for the whole 20 hours. It's a 1.5 minute piece of music that is repeated 840 times. Which equals 20 hours. Now that's what I call minimalist music. They had it in this room called the Klankspieltuin, which is usually full of fun music-y stuff for kids to do, but they had it all set up with armchairs, pillows, and beanbags, and you could just drift in and out over the 20 hours. They also had pianists rotating in and out, even though apparently one of the pianists really wanted to play the whole thing. But just logistically - wouldn't you have to go to the bathroom at least once in 20 hours??? Anyways, I went from 11:30 pm to 4 am. At a certain point I was so deliriously tired and also sort of delirious from listening to the same thing over and over it was like I was in a trance. It was definitely an interesting experience. Attached are pictures from my canal bike trip, and the view from the top of the carnival ride I went on!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Can Fly!!!

Well, it's bad. I know. I'm a bad blogger. But life hasn't been that exciting. Really. I swear. So anyways, it's just been your plain old practice, rehearse, sleep, eat, repeat kind of deal. The weather has been getting nicer here in the past week. Spring has sprung. Friday was a really nice day - it was 16 degrees! Some people from school and I went and rented a "canal bike" (aka pedal boat) and tooled around the canals for an hour and a half. There were lots of Amsterdammers out having boat parties too. It's the thing to do here during nice weather. Well, it's the thing to do if you're rich and have a boat. We made do in our pedal boat. Then yesterday they had a big carnival set up in the Dam square, complete with Ferris wheel and other exciting rides. So I just had to go on one! The one I really wanted to go on looked like so much fun, but it cost 8 euros! I mean, it looked fun. Just not 8 euros fun. So I went on a different one that only cost 4 euros, but it was still fun. It swung you up really high on these swings, and at the top they even slowed it a bit so you could take a picture. Which I did. It was amazing how much stuff they managed to fit onto that one city block. Anyways, I've finally decided on my summer plans. I'm going to be going to Domaine Forget string session in July-August for four weeks, and then going to TO and hanging until Tomchelle's wedding on the 23rd. The sticker is - I need to make some money. Like, bad. I'm so very broke. So if anybody knows gigs or whatever in TO I can get in on, I'd be very grateful!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life, or Something LIke It





It's still been pretty quiet. Just keeping busy with practicing and rehearsing. Nothing too exciting. I did take a little day trip to Utrecht last week. I've been a few times, but always at night and I've just gone directly from the train station to my rehearsal and back again. So I actually went during the day this time, and got to see some of the sights. I even went to the Rietveld-Schroderhuis, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in the 1920s and is a Unescu protected heritage sight - it's the only building in the world that faithfully adheres to the De Stijl style inside and out. It looks especially futuristic and out of place compared to all the other traditional brick pre-war Dutch buildings in the neighbourhood. Even after almost 100 years it still looks modern. Also, on Sunday it was the end of book week in the Netherlands. During book week, if you bought a book worth more that 11.50 you got a free book called "En Tafel Vol Vlinders", and with said book you got to ride the trains to anywhere in the Netherlands for free. And I like free things. So I ended up hopping a train to Den Helder, on the northern coast of Noord Holland. Then, because it's kind of a boring little place, I hopped the ferry to Texel Island. Apparently it's really nice in the summer, but on this particular day it was pretty cold and windy. Hopefully I'll be able to go back and visit the islands during some balmier weather - take my bike, explore a bit. Sounds fun. So yeah, that's my update. Very exciting.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

So Apparently It's March



March just sort of crept up on me by surprise there. I somehow always forget that February doesn't have 31 days. Selective amnesia I guess. The viola festival went very well, the end concert was quite fun. So many violists all in one place! The fun thing about a large group of violists is that we're all so chill that we can just hang out and have fun. I knew there was a reason I wasn't a violinist. Luckily I didn't really have anything on my schedule for the next week, because I was a bit tired and worn out. And seeing as how I didn't get my February break I decided to take it easy. But I still had some rehearsals and classes to attend. This Sunday I'm playing the Schubert Octet for winds and strings in a concert at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam - the oldest building in the city. It's apparently also hella cold to play in, since it's a large unheated stone church from the 15th century. So I will have to practice my layering skillz. This week as well the St. Lawrence String Quartet is in town doing concerts in the Netherlands. I met up with Chris and Scott on Monday morning for some coffee, and I'm going to hit up their concert on Friday night at the Concertgebouw. Other than that nothing too exciting is going on. Life's a little quieter now, which is fine by me. I'm still dreaming of a getaway to Tenerife......apparently we have some holidays in April. If that's the case I may go somewhere. If not Tenerife, maybe London. I've been craving some English-speaking-country-ness in my life. Plus you can get super duper cheap flights to London. Like, ridiculously cheap. But we shall see. The picture above is of me with Ruben, the 4 year old son of the family I stayed with when I was in Groningen. I always like hanging out with kids, because at heart I'm still a kid. I even still talk about what I'm going to do "when I grow up". Which if I have it my way, will be NEVER!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Rumours of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Things were pretty crazy when I got back from Vienna, what with rehearsals and mad last-minute practicing for the competition. But then I had to most ridiculous day ever on Monday. I was at school practicing, and had a lesson, but since it was the first day of the spring vacation the school closed at 4. Crazy, I know. So at 4 I headed over to the gym to get in a little working out, since it's also supposed to help with stress relief. I finished at about 6 and hopped on my bike to go home. It was dark and rainy, but that's not very unusual for Amsterdam. I was taking my usual route home, and lo and behold I get hit by a car! It was totally ridiculous. I was on the main street and the car was coming up on one of the side streets, and I saw him coming so I was keeping an eye on him. He started to slow down as he approached the intersection so I thought "great, he's going to yield like he's supposed to" and I keep on going. Then as soon as I'm in the intersection he just speeds up and runs right into me! I was completely in shock - shock that I had actually just been hit by a car. But luckily for me, I'm used to getting in all kinds of accidents so I got out relatively unscathed. Over the years I've learned how to fall properly :) Just some bruises (hip and shoulder), scrapes (shoulder), and a super swollen toe. I'm not sure how I banged just my one toe, but I did and now I have to walk funny for 2 weeks. But the absolute best part is that I was pretty OK, my bike was OK, and my viola was OK. So I got back on my bike and proceeded on my way. And I shit you not, about 4 blocks later a frikkin scooter trying to run a light runs right into my front wheel. By this time I was just in total disbelief. And after very bitchily pointing out that he was totally in the wrong I got his details (so that he could pay to have my bike fixed) and locked my totally kaput bike up to a pole. I then hobbled over to catch the tram home.
The next day was the first round of the viola competition, and I'm not sure if getting hit by a car helped or hampered my chances. If anything, it gave me something to keep my mind off the 'big day'. I actually played quite well. I was really happy with my performance, but unfortunately didn't make it through to the 2nd round. The level was really high, but I can't really say how I compared since I didn't hear anyone but me play. I'm not sure if it's particularly kosher to say either, but I was kind of happy not to move on. It's sort of stupid, but the 2nd round was at 10 am and I was already so overtired and just sore...... I ended up spending yesterday in bed, popping pain killers and watching downloaded tv. I think was actually more sore yesterday than on Tuesday, but today I'm definitely feeling better. Although I seem to have sprung another bruise! Very strange indeed, but who can say whether it was from the car or just from me. The viola festival is still going, even though the competition is over, so i'll be busy for another couple of days with that. Saturday night is the big final concert where we're all playing a piece for solo viola (Nobuko, natuurlijk) and and orchestra of violas (the rest of us - including violists from most of the major orchestras in the Netherlands) by a composer from Haarlem. The first rehearsal is tomorrow morning, so we shall see how this crazy viola piece works out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wien: alles andere Tagen


Well I'm back home safe in Amsterdam, and recovering from Vienna. Really the only recovery necessary is the fact that I had to get up so darned early to go to the airport this morning so I'm a wee bit tired. But back to Wien. On Sunday we went out for a bit of sightseeing. Moody really wanted to take me to the Nachmarkt, but it ended up being all shut up. Hard to say whether it was the fact if was Sunday, or if it was just closed for the season, but everything was closed. So we ended up wandering through the rain to a little cafe where the waiter was rude and the food was ok. Ah, Vienna. Then we went our separate ways - Moody went back to his place to get some practicing in and I went exploring. I was on a mission to find as many composer's houses as I could. I started with the Mozarthaus, where he lived for 2 years when he composed the Marriage of Figaro. Then I went to the Johann Strauss haus, where Johann the younger lived and the very apartment where he composed the Blue Danube. Then I wandered over to the "Schubert commemorative rooms". Because though he didn't actually live there, he died in that apartment (it was his brother's place). But by then I was cold and wet and needed to practice so I headed back to Moody's place to dry out, warm up, and practice a bit myself. That night we headed to the Wiener Staatsoper to see Salome. We got last minute standing room tickets, and it was really great. I wouldn't want to stand for a long opera, but Salome was a very manageable 1.5 hours. Moody started talking to Emannuel (the guy standing next to him), and so we invited him out for a drink after with us. We went to this old cafe that was started by a Czech couple after the war. It was a very cool old bar, fairly unchanged by the years. These types of places are quite common in Vienna, where they really like to preserve things as the way they have been for hundreds of years. Tradition! Moody and I commented several times that it's a strange concept for us North Americans, since even if you live in an old building ideally it has been gutted and completely remodelled and renovated to be totally modern. But in Vienna they like to keep things just as they were for the last 100 years or so. It's good and bad - it's nice that these traditions are so important to them, but at the same time it seems like sometimes they are just being crushed by the weight of all this tradition because it doesn't allow them to explore new options.
On Monday I had my Verbier audition, so that kind of dominated the plans for the day. It went well (I thought), but I suppose I will just have to wait and see. We did go for a walk around town and then I went and wandered around Schloss Belvedere. It's a big old Baroque palace that now holds a really nice art gallery, which features A LOT of Klimt. We had originally planned to go see the Küchl-Quartett on Monday night, but both Moody and I felt like a night in so we just hung out and then met up with our new friend Emmanuel for a drink. Hilariously enough, he had gone to the Küchl-Quartett concert. Then on Tuesday we hung around in the morning until we were really starving, and then we went to an Irish pub in the centre to celebrate Moody's deportation. He's had no end of beauraucratic hassles in Austria, and now that his residence permit is finally ready they won't give it to him because they took longer than 3 months to process it (thus making him an illegal resident in Europe). So he has to leave the Euro-zone and then come back. Crazy. He was originally thinking of going to Zagreb (Croatia) but then a friend of his who's a diplomat told him that the Eastern non-Euro countries will charge you up to 400 Euros to enter if they see that you're past your three months. So he's going to London instead because at least in London we know how the beauraucracy works because it's so similar to Canada. Anyways, we went and ate some nice British Isles pub food in preparation for his trip to the homeland. Then we went to the Küchl-Quartett concert at the Musikverein. The Concertgebouw orchestra was playing in the big hall, and their concert was totally sold out so there was a billion people there. The Küchl-Quartett concert was very interesting - they're the principal players of the Vienna Phil, and they play very much in the traditional Viennese style. It was great for the first half of the program (Haydn and Mozart), but not so much for the second half (Shostakovich). They just played the Shosti too......nice. It was both boring and annoying, because they would really shy away from the grating harmonies and try and make them sound as pretty as they could. This is definitely an instance where the Viennese traditions don't allow them to explore new horizons. Anyways after the concert Moody and I were wandering through Stephansplatz on our way to the opera bar when who should we run into but Emmanuel! He was with a colleague of his, heading out for a drink after their meetings. So they joined us to the opera bar for a last night out on the Wiener town. Then this morning I got up at an ungodly early hour to catch the train to the airport. I got to have a nap this afternoon, but it was very necessary because I had a trio rehearsal and then a rehearsal for this Icelandic music day concert I'm playing on Saturday. Now I'm just preparing for the competition next week. No rest for the wicked.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wien: erster Tag


It's been a while I know. Busy like a beaver, as they say. I had a good trip to Groningen last weekend, and played a very fun concert on Tuesday in the Oosterport with a string orchestra + jazz combo. Fun times. I caught the train back to Amsterdam on Tuesday after the concert since I had to be back in A'dam for a class at 10 am on Wednesday morning. I caught the train that runs straight from Groningen to Schiphol airport (which is just one stop from mine), and sat back with my magazine and iPod. I glanced outside and noticed it had started snowing, and thought nothing of it. Then the train stopped at Amsersfoort, and everybody mysteriously got off. Then I noticed the sign outside said that the train was going back to Groningen. So because it snowed 1 cm, it got all the trains off schedule and instead of going to Schiphol it was just turning around at Amersfoort. So annoying. So I had to jump on a stop-trein (one of those slow commuter trains that stops at every station) to Amsterdam Centraal, and then catch another train to my stop. It was very annoying. Nobuko Imai also came again this week to give some lessons, and since I'm missing two weeks worth of lessons with my own teacher due to my travelling schedule I got two lessons booked with her - 1 hour on Thursday and 1 hour on Friday. But luckily for me (and unluckily for them) the person with the lesson after me on Thursday didn't show up, so Nobuko just gave me a two hour lesson. It was pretty sweet. And she gave me the strings off her viola. Not quite literally, but close. She was convinced that I could produce a bigger sound with different strings and so she dug around in her case and found some of her used strings to try out on my viola. She assured me she only used them for a few days, and gave me 3 out of 4 new strings. And she was right - I can produce a bigger sound! Bully for me. Today I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am to go to the airport to catch my flight to Vienna. My flight wasn't until 7:15, and getting there at 6:15 would have been fine, but so many years of flying Air Canada and getting hassled and treated like shit all the time has made me fearful of flying, so I decided to go almost 2 hours early just because. It puts my mind at ease, even though at Schiphol nobody bats their eyes twice and me and my viola. It was also funny because I didn't have to go through passport control (because I was travelling within the EU), but I still got to shop duty-free and got breakfast on my flight (because I guess it's still technically international). I was actually a little surprised when they said they would be coming around with breakfast, since I'm now used to flights in Canada up to 5 hours where they give you jack and make you pay $10 for a crusty old sandwich. God I love Europe. Anyways, my trip to Vienna is slightly business and slightly pleasure. On Monday I have an audition for the Verbier Festival Orchestra, but since my old pal Moody (fellow Canadian violist) is going to school in Vienna now I'm also taking a sort of mini-break to stay with him and do some sight-seeing. Today we walked around, and then took a tour of the Vienna State Opera House. It was pretty cool - and we're going to try to go see Salome tomorrow night. They sell standing room only tickets they day of for only 4 euros! And they have this big section where there's just these boards to lean against (for all the standers). It's a pretty sweet deal considering how expensive the normal seats are there, though I'd probably think twice about going to see something like Wagner if I had to stand the whole time...... Then we got some street meat from a vendor (I had a Frankfurter, he had a Currywurst), sat in a park, then went to a cafe for coffee and Sachertorte. Yum. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. We're pondering an overnighter to Zagreb (Croatia) on Monday after my audition. Mostly because Moody has to leave the EU for min 24 hours due to some slight deportation issues, but that's a story for another time. Gute Nacht und gutes Glück.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nothing To Report


I have nothing new to report, but I'm a little bored since I've been sick in bed since Thursday. Saturday I ventured out to school for a rehearsal, but it was actually quite exhausting. I used up all my energy during the rehearsal, and so during my bike ride home I was sort of in a trance-like state.... Today I was supposed to have a rehearsal but it got cancelled, and since I'm still not feeling well I've decided to take another sick day. I firmly believe that the best thing is rest, especially since this was definitely caused by my over tiredness and over working during the last 2 weeks. However usually a few days in bed and lots of vitamin C takes care of this for me. But not this time apparently. I'm feeling OK now, aside from general tiredness and the fact that I'm so stuffed up is ridiculous. Anyways, I digress. I just had a few things to share. I got this book out of the public library on Saturday called "The Trudeau Vector". It caught my eye because of the title, and it's a medical mystery/conspiracy at a Canadian arctic scientific research base. There was a really funny line in it, where the lone Inuit staffer there was explaining his culture to the protagonist: "We thought that death made storms, that killing a spider would cause rain, that Pierre Trudeau was a shit." It made me laugh :) And secondly, the picture. It's me, trying to break into a nunnery. It's from December, when I met up with someone else from Saskatchewan through Couchsurfing. She's been living in Hong Kong for the last 15 years or so, and she was travelling through during the Christmas holidays. We were both so astonished to be meeting another Saskatchewanite, since the chances of that are statistically quite slim. I took her to the Begijnhof convent in Amsterdam, and she took this picture of me trying to break into the English Reformed Church in the middle of the courtyard. Enjoy, and send me your good energies - I need to get better soon or else!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Review

So the morning after my last post, bright and early at 6:30 am, I caught the train to Groningen to start rehearsing with the chamber orchestra there - Camerata Ardesko. I was there for two days (one night spent on the floor of a Conservatory student house) before heading back to Amsterdam for my Schleswig-Holstein audition on Saturday morning in Den Haag. Of course I was foiled by construction on the route I had mapped out to the Conservatory in Den Haag from the train station. It's actually quite close to the station, but I swear this entire country is always under construction! Every day on my ride to school a new area of my route is under construction and I have to . So, needless to say I was a bit later getting to the Conservatory before my audition that I had planned.....it went OK, but auditions are a funny thing. You practice for hours, and you end up playing for about 5 minutes. And you ALWAYS play worse than you know you can. Gah, auditions. Such a frustrating exercise. Anyways, then on Sunday I played another concert with the Trajectum chamber orchestra from Utrecht, but this time in Amsterdam. Then on Monday morning it was off to Groningen again. It's about a 2.5 hour train ride from Amsterdam, which is of course considered extremely far away. But I have really come to enjoy the train ride - bring a book, sit back with my iPod and relax. It passes so quickly I hardly even notice......I'm so used to travelling much longer distances. One summer I took the Greyound back and forth from Saskatoon to Calgary about 3 times, and those 8 hours just seemed to fly by - so a 2.5 hour train ride to Groningen is a piece of cake! Anyway, while in Groningen the second time I couchsurfed with a family there - Jolanda, Jan and their son Ruben.
I was there from Mon-Thurs, and during my days I hung out with Jolanda and Ruben, and then rehearsed with Camerata Ardesko in the evenings. Ruben is almost 4, and playing with him was a very good opportunity to practice my Dutch since it's the only language he speaks. We had some good times, Ruben and I. He's really into playing the violin, so I even let him play my viola.....it was highly exciting for him. Thursday was the concert, but the concert was in the Grote Kerk in Naarden - which is actually quite close to Amsterdam. So they hired two vans to transport us and our instruments to Naarden from Groningen, but when we were loading them in Groningen the sliding side door on one of them literally fell off when we went to close it. So, the rental place had to be called, and they had to bring a replacement van, and then we had to re-load all our stuff into it, blah blah blah. Needless to say we were late for our soundcheck.
It was a pretty fancy shindig - a private concert bankrolled by the big bank ABN-AMRO for their richest clients. In order to get an invitation to the concert you had to have over 500 000 Euros in your private bank account with ABN-AMRO. So, lots of really rich people. The concert went quite well, and then they had a reception after and we mingled with the audience a bit. Though as these things always go, the musicians were in a corner joking amongst themselves and trying to drink as much free alcohol as could be possible imbibed before getting back into the van, and our interaction with the audience basically consisted of every so often someone coming up to tell us that they enjoyed the concert. Good times. The vans dropped the 4 of us who were heading back to Amsterdam off at Hilversum station, and we caught one of the last trains into Amsterdam. But unfortunately I missed the last train from Amsterdam Centraal to my house, and because I always bike I have no idea how the night buses work or even which one goes to my house so I ended up crashing at Noelle's - she's a cellist on exchange to my school from Sarah Lawrence in the US, and not only was she playing the concert but she also lived not too far from the station and had a spare mattress. Score! But next morning I dutifully got up and went to school to practice, because from Sat-Wed I had an audition every second day. It was horrible. Wargh! But it's over now. It's all over........except for my Verbier audition in February. Saturday was my Britten-Pears orchestra audition, again in Den Haag. Then on Monday I auditioned for PMF (the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan), and on Wed I auditioned for the Concertgebouw. The last was my hilarious long-shot. I really didn't have enough time to prepare properly to actually stand a chance, but I just want to get in the swing of doing auditions. It's a completely different skill-set from actual performing, and since I want to get a job when I graduate I better start practicing auditions now! Anyhoo, I somehow kept myself going through all that craziness, but promptly on Wednesday evening after my last audition I got sick. I think the adrenaline kept my immune system going, and then as soon as the stress was gone it just gave out. So I ended up spending Thursday and Friday in bed, trying to sweat my fever out. Good times. Though last night I did manage to haul my arse out of bed to go see Laurence Power play the Bartok Viola Concerto with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. It was well worth the 10 euros admission - great stuff. Anyways, I'm still kinda sick, so I'm trying to rest up. Have to keep up my strength for all the very busy and important things I am doing!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hoe? Wat? Waar?

The holidays are over! It went by too soon........so sad. But also sort of nice to be back at the grind. It's quite a grind though. I'm sort of "commuting" to Groningen to rehearse with a chamber orchestra there for a concert next week, I have an audition this Saturday for the Schleswig-Holstein music festival, then on Sunday I'm playing a concert with Trajectum (the chamber orchestra in Utrecht I sub in). Then it's back to Groningen for rehearsals leading up to the private concert on Thursday next week - it's for the 100 wealthiest clients of the big bank ABN-AMRO. Then I have another audition next Saturday for the Britten-Pears orchestra. Then two days later I have an audition for the Pacific Music Festival, and two days after that is the first round audition for the Concertgebouw! Yeesh.......that's a crazy couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll keep my sanity through it. Check back with me in a couple weeks :S Hope everyone had a happy holidays en een gelukkige nieuw jaar.