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CARLA LEURS

Holland Symfonia and Radio Chamber Philharmonic

June 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM

It has been a while, but after a nice evening with some colleagues from the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and Holland Symfonia, two orchestras on the brink of extinction, I feel I could at least write something on a big public platform such as violinist.com

A couple years ago I worked frequently in both orchestras. In fact, Holland Symfonia was my first professional orchestra gig and I had my first contract as concertmaster with the RKF (Radio Chamber Philharmonic). This week I am appointed as the new concertmaster of the Netherlands Symphony, and in recent years I have been a guest-concertmaster with orchestra's as the London Philharmonic and Rotterdam Philharmonic. However, I could have never done it without Holland Symfonia. That's where I learned what it means to be an orchestra musician and what it means to be a concertmaster. At the time I first came there, there were 2 concertmasters: Hebe Mensinga and Tinta Schmidt von Altenstadt. Later Sarah Oates was added to the team. Let me tell you, these three violinists would give you a run for your money. Hearing them perform the big ballet violin solo's would give you shivers down your spine. Combine that with a never-ending serving attitude and you have the perfect concertmaster team. That serving attitude is something very striking for Holland Symfonia. They accompany the National Ballet in Amsterdam, one of the best ballet groups in the world. Accompanying ballet is a discipline of its own, a dying swan without Tchaikovsky just does not impress as much. Imagine having different dancers for the same role, one evening a jump takes this long, the other it is just a little bit shorter. The orchestra has always used their talents to serve the dancers, the choreographer, the music, always hidden underneath, no shining lights on them, but with always an unbelievable dedication. But that is not the only thing they do. I have done the most amazing children's programs with them and also in the symphonic repertoire with their chief conductor Otto Tausk they would make me feel so grateful that I got to make music with them.

The Radio Chamber Philharmonic (RKF) was my first real concertmaster job. At that time Jaap van Zweden was their chief conductor. I literally would come out after a project feeling a better violinist and musician, when he had been there for a week. The RKF belongs to the broadcasting system, maybe comparable to the Bayrische Rundfunk Orchester or the BBC orchestra's. When our current government came in place one of the easiest decisions they apparently made, in order to save money, was to say the radio orchestra's, choir and the biggest music library of Europe had to disappear. Thank goodness they did not stop all the funding so at least one symphonic orchestra can survive. So they are now "melting" the two orchestra's together. Both Radio orchestra's have a long tradition of 3 very important series in the Netherlands (there used to also be 3 radio orchestra's), two of them in the Concertgebouw. Besides highly praised more well-known performances (one of them, Parsifal, just received an Edison) they also regularly perform premieres, by Dutch and other composers. The RKF is unbelievably versatile: one week they perform a beautiful, style conscious, Rameau with Frans Bruggen, the next week they can perform the premiere of a Dutch composer, with James McMillan as conductor.

Sadly, there is a very big chance these orchestras will not be heard from 2013 on. I can't imagine what my colleagues are going through.
But I just wanted to say, I am very grateful for having been a member of your group and thank you for all the moments I had the chance to listen to you, either in a concert hall, going to the ballet, or on the radio. And I am looking forward to listening to you in the future!
You rock!


From Eileen Stevens
Posted on June 21, 2012 at 8:21 AM
Beautiful article! I've played in Holland Symfonia for 22 years, and this really made my day.

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