Sunday, February 8, 2009

Snow - and shaping a life

The last month of my life has been full of events of various sorts. First of all I had a quiet chrismas at home with my parents. However that changed as I was informed that I had lost my academic tutor (details too personal for general internet at this point). I spent the rest of the holidays grappeling with my research tryng to understand where I am. I have just sent of a report of my research and hope that a good tutor will be willing and able to take me on. However everyone at RCM is really kind and supportive so I am sure something good will happen in the end.
Over the holidays I also worked quite intensively on a big recital program which I presented with Amelie on Saturday Feb. 7th (Due Corde). It was our first evening recital and it went really well. We had good audience response and even though we were very cold we had a wonderful time performing great music. We have another recital coming up in early March and then we will see what comes after that. We also performed in St. Mary's hospital and we might well do that again in the future.
Lately my life had been dominated by snow. London was very beautiful but one could get absolutely nowhere - which was perfect for practising and writing reports! By now it would be good if it stopped though.
In the course of January I also performed in a concert with Belsize Baroque lead by Adrian Butterfield my teacher - who lucky can one be to be concert master with ones teacher directing? I learned so much from that. I also took part in a recording project at the RCM museum. In the coming weeks there are more performance projects and March in particular proves to be busy - but more about that in due time.
At this point in time I am feeling confident that I will eventually make it here in London. I have wonderful friends, great housemates, good teachers and colleagues - and I am starting to earn the beginnings of a living!

Friday, December 19, 2008

At the end of term

So I am finally home in Denmark for the festive season after a very eventful fall term. I have learned much and experienced much and I am now happy to have a few weeks to digest. I have already written about th EUBO tour covering 26 November - 14th of December but there were many other things in my life.

As the economy started slumping in the UK I faced the fact that I might not be able to continue raising scholarship money and I started serious work on getting work. So far I work two evenings a week in St. John's Smith Square as a concert usher. True it is not a wellpayed job but it is a start and there are good concerts once in a while - eventually I might advance to other venues. I also got my first student and I really enjoy teaching. I have also had a few playing gigs and things are starting to come together.

I also still enjoy my studies. I do however have to be a little careful. With the many things the Historical Performance department at RCM has to offer I can easily spend all my time there and my research will suffer. November was the month when I started getting my research a bit back on track by beginning serious work on the bibliography attempting to read everything I can get hold of relating to my topic. I hope that I will be able to start writing a sample chapter in the beginng of next term. I have particularly lucky with my tutors - now I just have to follow their advice and get to work!

After a quite fall my duo is getting serious. We had a productive working day where we planned programs and rehearsed them. I will spend some of the Christmas holidays making promotion material and learning a lot of new repertoire. I also need to work on technique and general polishing of my playing.

I have been blessed with wonderful housemates this fall. We have been 5 girls and we are having a great time. Only problem is sometimes stopping and going to bed! As always the new year will bring changes as some people have to leave but I think it is going to be a good year.

I am happy to be home but also happy to go back. I am ok financially for now and grateful for the opportunities I have been given so far.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and Merry Christmas to all.

The final EUBO 2008 tour

By the end of November it was suddenly time to get ready to join the EUBO once again for a final tour which would take us to Luxemburgh, Sweden, Romania and finally London, UK. I had decided to leave a few days early and visit an old friend of mine. Indigo and I studied together at Oberlin Conservatory and she now lives in Hague.I took a train from London to Harwich, a night ferry to Hoeck van Holland and then again train and at quite a good price when considering that I had my own cabin to sleep in. For the next couple we just hung out, ate nice food. I met her friends, took a trip to Amsterdam to buy music and we watched CSI together.
On a Sunday morning she then took me to the train station so I could catch my train to Brussels and ultimately Luxemburgh. In Brussels I met up with 3 other EUBO members and the onward journey was merry as it is when one meets old friends. Unfortunately a sore throath started bugging me... In Luxemburgh we met up with even more people as we waited for the bus to Echternach which was our base for the next days of intensive rehearsals.
Monday morning almost everyone had arrived we were sort of ready to begin. However everyone seemed to be tired and I was sick. However as the afternoons rehearsals ended we were getting back together as an ensemble and over the next few days it became fun again. We recorded Handel Watermusic suite 1 in the new concerthall in Echternach which proved to be a good learning experience. Lars Ulrik Mortensen and the recording engineer had a humerous way of communicating and I really hope the final product will be good.

We ended our stay in Echternach with a concert in the new Hall and the next morning we were off to Stockholm, Sweden. I was still battling a cold and by this point my hearing was reduced which is not particularly helpful when one is playing as part of a group but somehow I was able to make it work. The concerthall in Sweden was lovely and the venue was close to the waterfront and the lovely city center. Unfortunately we did not have much time in Stockholm as we were leaving alarmingly early (6.15am) to travel to Romania.

Traveling took almost all day and we arrived in Bukarest after sundown. The first impressions were not good. The doors to the closets in the rooms were falling out, people had smoked everywhere and we could not find anywhere to eat! Breakfast was not better and the mood was down. However I joined the leaders for a masterclass at the local Conservatory.
The Music Conservatory in Bukarest has just started an Early Music department. Things were rather unorganized but Judith (the EUBO concertmaster) made the students play Corelli Concerti Grossi with some of us. Afterwards we went out ot lunch. The baroque violin teacher knew a good restaurant so finally I had something to eat and we had a good time chatting and we learned a lot about the musical traditions of Romania.
Then it was off the Iasi with a small plane - we had some time to investigate the city and the ammount of concrete apartment flats were saddening. However all over town the old churches were being restored and we had chance to visit them. The concerthall and the 'harpsichord' LUM got to play were also quite something. We passed the hall on our walk through town and were quite surprised about it's state (see picture). The concert went very well and the audience was wonderful. Only distraction were the blinking christmas lights on the backwall! This was also the last time we played our classical program (Haydn, Mozart, e.a.)

The next morning we returned to Bucharest to play a concert in an extremely uncharming venue in true 60's style - so I have no pictures. The hall had no arcustics whatsoever so we had to work quite hard.Then it was off the Cluj which turned out to be a surprise - a beautiful city in the mountains of Transylvania - and the concert venue was a beautiful old theather. Only problem here was smoke - people smoked everywhere and the air on stage was 'visible'. But again we had a wonderful audience and lots of fun playing. By this point my hearing had returned to almost normal so I could truly be part of the performance.

Next morning I got up early to take a walk in the city and buy the last christmas presents. I took lots of pictures and found some sweet little things in a christmas market - but all of a sudden we had to get back to the hotel. It turned out that there was a strike in Budapest aiport which was supposed to be our transfer airport. We ended up after long debates taking a bus to Bukarest (9 hours) arriving at 2.30am. We got a few hours sleep in a hotel near the airport, got up and took the bus at 6am to the airport and arrived in London at 10.30 local time. We had some time then to rest before the preparations for our very last concert at St. John's Smith Square. The concert went very well. It was a joyperforming in this venue and being together one last time.
After the concert there was a reception and the slow goodbuys began. Three of my housemates came to the concert and they also got invited to the reception so I had time to talk to them as well.
Next morning I got up to eat several breakfasts and to say more goodbuys - this went on for several hours. Finally at 11am I was done and I took my suitcase and was on my way home.
The afternoon was spent washing clothes and hanging out in the house.
It was only after it was all over that I realized what a great experience I had just had. What I have earned I will only find out as the next year progresses but I am very thankful to LUM and the EUBO for this opportunity.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Snapshots of London life

So I finally invested in a device with which I can
transfer my pictures from my camera to my computer. Here follows then an update of my life in London so far this term.
I prepared for the term by sending over my spare violin case (picture to the left). I needed it in order to be able to cycle around town. Once I arrived in London I quickly invested in the lovely vehicle seen to the right (photo from before it got very worn). That investment has really payed off. I am saving money and I
actually quite enjoy cycling around town. True it can be slightly dangerous at times but I have leared to avoid the worst! My road to my new place of study - Royal College of Music -
takes me through Hyde Park which is an added bonus.
I played a few recitals i September with my two duos (Oberlin Duo and Due Corde). At this point we are taking some time to build repertoire and we will be back with more recitals next term. This is particularly the case with Due Corde (violin and cello) where much of the work is somewhat related to my research. I might ending up recording with Due Corde for my thesis submission.
I am truly enjoying the change the RCM. I was ready for more independent study. I am still getting used to the ways of the degree and sorting out basic practical issues such as how to organize notes, where to get sources and scores. I have also been attending a number of introductory seminars for first year Phd students and sometimes my brain is just too full of information - but I like that!
I have also had a chance to have some time off.
I took a trip to Cambridge to visit a friend and see the city. It was good getting out of London for a day and see something totally different. I might have a chance to go back for research but time will show.

Friday, August 22, 2008

An EUBO summer

After having updated and translated most of my website into Danish I thought it was time to have a look at my blog which I have neglected for better or worse for quite a while. Not that I could have done much differently - I only got my own computer back a few days ago and I have been quite busy.

Most of my summer has been occupied by the European Union Baroque Orchestra's summer tour. Before the tour I spent quite a while speculating and getting ready - and when I got home it took quite a while to get back to a normal life.

I had no idea what to expect from the EUBO. However the learning experience was much greater than I would ever had thought both as a musician and as a person. I cannot say exactly what I learned but by the end of the tour I had a confidence that I have not had before about being part of an ensemble and I cannot wait to get back to my two ensembles and apply the things I have learned.

The ensemble met up in Echternach, Luxembough for 10 days of rehearsal. I was somehow surprised about the free time and enjoyed walking around town and the surrounding country side alone or with colleagues. Echternach is on the boarder of Luxembourgh and by crossing a river one is suddenly in Germany! The picture of Echternach is taken from the hills just acrosse the River. Apart from this there was time to practise and of course going out for dinner and the (for me) occasional drink at the local bar in the evening.

The rehearsal period seems now to have taken place in the very distant past! We did however have a wonderful time. We worked hard, had lots of fun and sometimes some fustrations. We also had a team of film makers following us. They were making a pubicity dokumentary about the orchestra. Lars Ulrik Mortensen - our director - was amazingly inspiring. I have experienced him one before when he came to direct the Orchestra at the Royal Academy of Music so I had some idea of what it would be like but I really came to respect him during this period. The rehearsals were the best structured I have experiences so far. We covered what was intended and there was time both for play throughs and for polishing details. Apart from that LUM is just lots of fun and so full of energy and excess body movement! In addition we had sectionals where the ensemble within the groups were founded.

After a concert in Echternach the tour went on to Estonia where we performed in Tartu and Talinn in Estonie, Riga in Latvia, Reims in France, Hannover in Germany and finally in Turku in Finland. We stayed in a variey of hotels all of high standard but also very different. The most 'interesting' was the hotel in Tartu which had art on the walls. I was happy I did not have to stay in a room with naked ladies! We performed in a variety of venues such as old churches, Guild halls, theaters and concert halls. Each hall had it's own character and the rehearsals on tour were often focused on getting used to the hall. We had wonderful audiences.
Most impressive were the audiences in Reims. The first concert had free entrance and the line formed more than an hour before the concert. We had a full hall for both concerts there. In Talinn we had a very samll audience but made up of true music lovers and it was a joy to perform in such a setting...
I could tell much more about the tour but it is getting late and I am sure that other people from EUBO will report around the internet. Several members have posted pictures on facebook and I will also post some more pictures on my website soon - hopefully.
Right now I am getting ready to move back to London. I will join EUBO again in December. In a way I am sad that I will not be going on the two other fall tours - but I need the time to get started on my new degree and to work with my ensembles and get a job.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

... from the sunshine

I am writing this from a room in my parents house where I am staying at the moment. The summer has been very promising so far. We have had almost constant sunshine and I have enjoyed having no specific agenda - I needed the break. My time has mainly been spent on a bit of practising, walking the dogs, doing bits of academic reading and drafting for the dissertation which I will begin studies for in September at the Royal College of Music, London. I have also started making promotion material for myself and my ensembles and I am working on some changes for my website - please tell me what you think.
Last week I also started working again (at a smoke house). I do not have that many hours though so I have lots of time to do what I have to do on the side. I have a solo recital on July 10, a private function in a few days - on the 14th I will travel to Luxembourg to join EUBO for the summer tour. I am looking forward to every aspect of the tour with the possible exception of the vey long bus-rides...
For now however I enjoy the piece and quiet of a small village. My parents and I went to the local Midsummer celebrations which attracted almost all the inhabitants of the village and people from the surrounding area as well. Midsummer happened to be on one of the few days where we had rough weather so I had to go home for a sweater. Once I was warm - and the fire under control we had a nice evening. The fact that event like this take place and that people get to know each other is very valuable in a small community - and it is a good place to rechrage the mental and physical batteries.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The end of a beginning...

So my life has been taken over by what Bernstein famously and appropriately called 'the kitchen of life' combined with concerts, academic deadlines, exams and soon it is time for the summer break and for a temporary return to Denmark.

If seems that the busyness of my life has been constantly accellerating for these last month. Just as I thought that there could not be more going on I got asked to do one more thing and I took up the challenge. I ended up paying by doing some very bad academic work and I am a bit concerned. However the point of this year was really to give priority to performance before I again involve myself in academia at the next level.

When I moved to London I had some intentions for this year. I wanted this year to be a time to get used to being back in Europe, to get used to living in London, to get to know people, and to play a lot. This all came to pass but in a way very different from what I had imagined. I guess I had expected weekly lessons with my teacher - that was not to be. I spent a long time being fustrated about this but in the end I realized that really do not need that anymore. Instead I should focus on my wonderful ensembles. Trio Tambourin (pictured left) has been a big focus. We playe quite a few concerts together and made it to the final of a Harpsichord Chambermusic Competition at Fenton House this past month. Also my duo with cello - Due Corde - is starting to get engagements. Hopefully at some point these engagements will also be paid but right now we just need exposure.

Life outside school has been interesting. I finally started working - I usher at St. John's which is a concert hall in central London. Going to work is an amazing experience. I get off at Charing Cross and walk past Houses of Parlament ad Westminster Abbey to get to work! And then I get paid to listen to concerts. True I have not been too well so I have been taking 'late comers door' quite a few times but I really like the job and the people I work with. I am looking forward to continuing there in the fall. Hopefully I will also get some students and stop being dependent on scholarships.

It is going to be stange leaving Trinity College of Music and going to a new school in the fall. However I am now sure that it was the right thing to do. I am looking forward to the preparation for the future. I will also have reasons to come back to Trinity and visit and the friendships I have made there will not finish just because I study at another school.