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On concerts, rehearsals and the taming of the screw


One of my favorite spots while living in Oslo was the "Mathallen". It's a sort of huge silo with all kinds of small shops selling delicacies and interesting food (which, as anyone who has ever lived in Norway will know, is bloody hard to come by), and the first time I went there I didn't leave for over half a day.

To my great delight, I found that last Sunday's True Fusion concert was housed in De Hallen in Amsterdam, which is rougly similar to that lovely spot of Oslo.

Café Belcampo, the library café we performed in, features two floors (one of which we claimed for performance space), a lovely creak-less Yamaha grand, and an absolute killer of a salmon sandwich.

I recommend going there to any and all who ever come to Amsterdam. Apparently, there's a cultural programme every Sunday, and I am definitely going to do my level best to hijack it once more at my earliest convenience.

In other news, I've been fondling a great variety of different pianos in the last several weeks. One choir rehearsal, which was hilarious because I didn't have the chord pattern to one of the songs printed out and therefore ended up reading it off my smartphone screen. Several piano lessons, featuring six aspiring superstars at the same time, each with their own piano. Aforementioned concert in Amsterdam. Some various orchestral rehearsals.

And that's where it gets interesting.

A friend of mine, Jan-Peter de Graaff, is of the composing persuasion, and is planning to write an opera next year. I heard about it, I thought it was brilliant, and proceeded to voice my opinion to the aforementioned, adding that if he needed a pianist for it I would be a very happy volunteer.

He then said that he was sort of basing it on a Concerto Grosso he'd already written for brass ensemble and orchestra, and that he was still looking for a keyboard player for that.

Cunningly enough, he only mentioned that the keyboard in question was a harpsichord after I'd said yes.

Not that it's a problem, of course, I've got a minor in the "old pianos" department, but still. Harpsichord.

Anyway! The Concerto's called All Rise, and it premiered yesterday during Adriaan van der Louw's bachelor recital (for which he got a nine, by the bye), and it was awesome.

The harpsichord, however...

You see, with a harpsichord there's this wooden plank screwed over the hammers to ensure that the dampers don't hit the ceiling when you hit a string with a little bit too much enthusiasm (which, let's be honest, pianists are wont to do).

This board was, as it turned out, not very well secured.

It almost turned into one of those Tom and Jerry scenes where the hammers go flying and then hilariously and inevitably end up in a tuba.

Eventually I MacGyvered the screw back into place (I didn't even need to use ducttape) and managed to play the entire concert without breaking the poor thing. That definitely qualifies as a resounding success in my book.

Next time will be in Amsterdam, on Friday the 12th of June - if you're inclined to come listen to awesome modern music, keep an eye on my Facebook page!

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