Yesterday was my first time being a jurymember. This week there is a local competition in the town my parents live and I am adjudicating all rounds. For the first at the other end of the table. I like playing better. It is so difficult. The kids ranged yesterday in age from 6 through 18 and I mainly heard piano. Some of them had only half a year lessons, others were already well on their way preparing for a possible future job in music.
Next week I am playing as a member of Amsterdam Sinfonietta. I just got a mail from them about a project where they are going to bring classical music into the class room. All these initiatives are so great.
In the Netherlands you can not learn to play an instrument at your primary or high school, just as we don't offer sports at school in a way that is being done in the US. Therefor you could say that classical music is maybe not everywhere in Holland geographically represented. BEcause there are still the more upscale beighbourhoods (read Westchester) where it is very normal for children to go to musiclessons, play hockey (I am going to get in trouble with a lot of Dutch people). However, both these projects, the one of the orchestra (innercity) as well as the competition (suburbs, read New Jersey) (more trouble now I think) are at places where it is not so cool to be a classical musician. I used to get into trouble for it, quite a bit at my primary school. But these kids yesterday played with their heart and soul. I really applaud them for that. Every single one of them moved me.
Only one of every age category can move to the next round. There are threee different categories. Immediately we had a close one with the younger ones: only 0.1 point difference. Since I am the only judge adjudicating all selection rounds, I get to decide on 3 extra people for the finals on saturday. I wanted this girl to go on badly, I felt so bad about ).1 points. However then I immediately got into another problem that evening: the oldest agecategory had a ex aequo and officially only one could pass to the finals. It is an impossible task. Luckily I was able to decide right then and there that they both got to play in the finals. But my generally quite not compromising opinion on juries has completely changed. I now know first hand how difficult this is and how difficult it is to make good decisions. I just want these kids to have fun and want this to be an inspiration to work harder and enjoy themselves more. I hope that will come through. Impossible to do.... but also very rewarding to see these kids play.
Today was going to be another day in the life of a violinist. It is a beautiful fall in The Netherlands, cool air and beautiful skies and that special way the sun shines in the fall that gives everything that fairytale like color, like the trees in the Vondelpark (Amsterdam's Central Park)
Because what I heard tonight was from another world. Here I was sitting, second row on the balcony, watching this Lady descend the famous stairs, in a beautiful creation, probably from Dior or something. And then she opens her mouth... goosebumps. Purcell at its best. I could hear every letter, every little detail, an articulation we string players can only dream of. And that with a charisma, this woman bewitched about 1500 people at once.
Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
CARLA LEURS is from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Biography
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