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Two months in the life of a train-hopping bouncing ball


The problem with being really busy is that I start skipping things. When I am running around like a headless chicken trying to fix everything at the same time, for instance, I tend to skip lunch, largely because I think it’s a ridiculous meal (especially in Holland. The Dutch seem to use every excuse available to eat sandwiches) and it takes a lot of time.

I never skip breakfast, though, partially because it’s allegedly the most important meal of the day, and mainly because you just don’t want to meet me before coffee. But that’s besides my point.

When you’re rushing around like a lunatic you tend to postpone writing things for your blog, because at the end of the week you’ll have way more interesting things to tell, and then on Monday you’ll have had enough sleep and therefore energy to write, and then it ends up not happening at all.

So, I am pleased to announce that I have recently graduated my Master’s course of Putting Off Writing, and therefore won’t be doing it again soon. Unless I get offered that Ph.D position.


On to the intrigue!

I’ve been travelling across the country a lot recently, and the Dutch train stations seem to have developed the tendency to have a resident piano. The poor thing is usually horrifically maltreated, with entire octaves of notes having simply given up and crying in a corner whenever you try to play them, but the thought is there. The pianos at Rotterdam Central, Utrecht Central and Delft Station have so far been hijacked by yours truly, and I’m seriously considering making it some sort of tour. I happen to know Amsterdam and Groningen both have a piano too, and I’m sure there’s plenty more; wouldn’t it be fun to do a Dutch Public Transport Concert Tour?

Provided all the trains run on time, obviously. Which’ll probably happen around the time Lucifer puts in his ice skating rink. But the idea is there.

But who, you ask, have I been travelling around to?

First, foremost, and also furthest: fantabulous violinist Elisabeth St-Cyr. Finland again! This time in semi-spring, which is far more pleasant than almost-winter, although you still wear the same sort of coat. Aforementioned violinist has recently won herself a job at the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, whilst at the same substituting at Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra (while living in Helsinki, might I add. Look at a map. Seriously. Violinists are crazy), and since she clearly wasn’t busy enough I flew over there to look at some repertoire.

Since we were in Finland anyway we looked at some Sibelius, and within an hour we had planned two concerts featuring composers from Norway, Finland, Canada and The Netherlands.

Rehearsing, of course, might be a mite difficult what with us living in two different countries, but we might pull off some rehearsal time next summer – which means we’ll probably be performing somewhere between summer and late autumn.

Indeed something to look forward to – I used to play with Liz virtually every week, and now it’s roughly once every three months. It hurts my soul, it really does.

Then, there is Dramatic Soprano Emma Brown, who is in fact also a composer. I’ve been trying to get her to write me a piano piece for ages, but she’s resisting – I guess I’ll just have to keep mentioning it. I’ll wear her down eventually. We’ve been looking at nice song cycles to work on, and we’re currently planning on doing Haugtussa Lieder, which tells the story of a fay girl who falls madly in love and is then tragically rejected. It’s by Grieg, and there is a song about chickens in it. It’s really hard not to love.

Walking the Wire, meanwhile, is also gearing up for next year – a project featuring new music, CD recordings, video footage and a potential concert tour is currently in the process of being set up. I, of course, have gleefully consented to being a part of all this, and thus once again have some serious puzzling out of funny chords to look forward to.

Now that I’m on the subject anyway – when out for a drink with a friend from Norway I met two composers in a pub (which really does sound like the start of a joke). One of them I knew very well, the other I had met only twice, and yet he suggested I play in the concerto grosso he has written and the opera he’s intending to write – I won’t mention any names, because I only have a few rehearsal dates and I haven’t seen an actual score yet, but still I think it’s pretty awesome.

Also, the librettist of the aforementioned opera happens to be quite a good friend of mine, with whom I’ve done quite some writing in the past. I can really see this turning into something truly awesome.

On a completely different note, I’ve been doing some teaching, too. I’ve had the pleasure of substituting a few days at the Culture Education Centre Trias in Rijswijk, where they’ve adopted a pretty cool method of piano teaching: groups of five at the same time!

When first I heard of it, I wasn’t sure how on earth that was supposed to work, but as it turns out it’s really cool. There’s six upright pianos in a room, five students, and basically what you do is you do scales and technique and whatnot with the entire group, and for personal nifty bits you just hop from piano to piano. It was brilliant. I’m really looking forward to doing it again soon.

Meanwhile, the performance we put together at The Hungry Mind last year is going places, both metaphorically and literally.

The performance has finally gotten its proper name: “True Fusion”, as cooked up by the brilliant Pallas van der Kroft-Sluyter: we’ll be moving from Dying Swans to progressive rock, and it is going to be amazing.

Even more amazing is that concerts are already planned – Sunday the 10th of May we’re up in The Grote Pyr in The Hague, for two mother’s day concerts, and two weeks later we’ll be taking over Bel Campo in the Central Library in Amsterdam.

More news will follow!

And finally, last but not least – Den Haag Danst Door de Tijd. A project put together by the sheer willpower of Florence Rapati, Ballerina Extraordinaire, and which has been up and running since January 2014. The final performance of the 2014-2015 project is coming up, and it’s coming up really fast!

“De Tijdgeest” will be performed this Thursday, the 9th of April, in Theater de Regentes in The Hague. Want to know more? Read the next post!

And so much for the rough overview of what I’ve been up to in the last few months.

Updates on the up and coming concerts, fancy projects, and my personal guide to mental practice shall be following quite shortly.

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