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.

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 really made me laugh. Here's the link to the story:

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!