European Federation of Youth Orchestras MusXchange Summer Project - Blog Post



Emma Pantel

Emma Pantel- Violin 1

As I enter my final year at RCS I was delighted to be given the opportunity by NYOS to take part in NJO, a two week project in Holland. This proved to be a wonderful experience for an aspiring professional like myself and a great way to spend some of my summer break.

The first week, a chamber music project, gave me the opportunity to play with a small group of musicians. I found working intensively with an extremely high standard of musicians, both inspiring and motivational and I feel that I have really enhanced my skills as a chamber musician as a result.

In the second week for the orchestral project, I thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside very talented players from the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague and the soloist, Joe Puglia- who had been our tutor for the chamber music week. The Orchestral project was an amazing experience as the standard of playing was extremely high. I loved playing with young musicians from diverse backgrounds, everyone was so welcoming, and sharing this experience with friends from NYOS, made my time in Holland very memorable.

In both projects I found the first few days of intensive rehearsing extremely beneficial. I really appreciated having the time to go through pieces meticulously with Joe, as he took the time to guide us through the finer details, encouraging us to become better all-round musicians. I loved the fact that we were very much treated as colleagues rather than students- the rehearsal times were very professional- Monday to Thursday with an open rehearsal on the Thursday- then Friday and Saturday was concert time I enjoyed the buzz of working intensely, striving to excel and be prepared for performance- this really made me feel like a young professional. Performing was a pleasure, the concerts were intimate and personable and the audiences were extremely supportive.   All in all, I really enjoyed being a part of the NJO Summer projects it was an amazing experience and I would love to be fortunate enough to do it again. 

Abigail Young

Abigail Young- Violin

This course was an excellent opportunity to experience more of what it might be like to work in a professional string quartet. Whilst we had invaluable input from violinist Joe Puglia, we also had a lot of time on our own as a string quartet to work over the course of an intensive week with three performances to prepare for. The opportunity to work with brand new repertoire in a newly formed quartet; was a challenging but rewarding experience for us. Joe approached mentoring us through encouraging us to discuss the music as a chamber ensemble, rather than dictating ideas to us, which I found to be a refreshing and productive way to work under the tutelage of somebody else. It was also interesting and exciting to work with another quartet, formed of players either from or studying in The Netherlands, who gave us an insight into what playing and studying in Holland would be like. 

Each of our three concerts provided an amazing experience for us, with packed out and enthusiastic audiences and the chance to play in some of Holland's most beautiful smaller venues. 

The main thing that struck me was the wide variety of opportunities available for young musicians in Holland, and as a student, the chance for me to be involved in such a project without paying any fees was amazing. 

So, NJO Muziekzommer was a very valuable experience for me as a music student - thank you for the invitation!

Campbell Parker 

Campbell Parker- Viola

First of all, a word of thanks for involving me in this project. It really was a great 2 weeks of music making and I learned so much!

The first week of the project was entirely chamber music based, within the first few hrs of arriving at the Apeldoorn accommodation 'StayOK' the Scottish quartet got straight to work, as we have over 10 pieces of chamber music to learn in such a short space of time!

The next day we met the other 'Dutch' quartet and our tutor and 1st violin of the Dutch quartet 'Joe Puglia'. Joe is a fantastic musician and an amazing soloist (He played the Anders Hillborg Violin Concerto the week after our intense chamber project!) and as well as all that he is very down to earth, approachable and an overall great guy!

The days consisted of very long hours spent from 10am-10pm, rehearsing and playing through the challenging programme we were set, with Joe, popping in at odd intervals to hear us play and coach us. With Joe being the leader of the other quartet and themselves playing a difficult programme, he couldn't always be with our quartet, which left us with a degree of responsibility and individuality when it came to rehearsing and preparing the music. I liked this approach a lot, since the musical ideas we came up with were our own and the standard of quality of playing was completely down to us, Joe merely acting as offering opinion and other ideas in terms of sound and interpretation. We joined however twice a day to rehearse the fantastic Shostakovich Octet with the other quartet, which was great also, getting to experience the standard of playing of Dutch music students and getting to make fantastic music with them! 

The concerts were well attended and Dutch audiences received our performances warmly (Standing ovations twice!). The first concert was actually filmed for local TV and once we find where and when it will be screened, published I will pass it on to NYOS! 

The following week was the Symphony Orchestra project, where were joined by the rest of the Orchestra, again Joe Puglia as soloist, Anders Hillborg himself and conductor Christian Karlsen. This again was another challenging week, as the music; Anders Hillborg's Violin Concerto, Sibelius's 'Finlandia' and Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4, Op 29 'Inextinguishable'. The process which they use to learn the music is very similar to NYOS', with sectionals with notable players and then Woodwind/Brass and String Sectionals. Then large tutti's, again with rehearsals from 10am-10pm! The conductor was great to work with, if not a little too dry in his humor, but he got the job done and ended up with some fantastic results!

Overall the experience was fantastic and not one I shall ever forget, thanks again for the opportunity.

Sarah Ayoub 

Sarah Ayoub- Cello

I spent a very enjoyable two weeks in Apeldoorn taking part in the NJO Muziek Zomer Festival.

The first week was the String Miniatures Chamber Project which involved quartet & octet coaching. We studied works by Hillborg (composer in residence), Puccini, Bartok & Shostakovich while rehearsals were led by Joe Puglia - a very inspiring and lovely violinist who also played alongside us for the octet. The other string quartet was made up of Joe, two others from the Netherlands and another person from England. When we were not coached by Joe, we were left to take charge of our own rehearsals which was very eye opening, as we learned a lot about our ensemble and solo playing and how to work as a team - especially as this was the first time we had ever played together! 

We had three concerts - one of which was recorded and broadcasted on local Dutch TV.  

The second week was the NJO Orchestral Project, where we performed: Sibelius - Finlandia; Hillborg Violin Concerto (soloist was Joe Puglia) and Nielsen Symphony No. 4 - conducted by Christian Karlsen. 

We had a tutti rehearsal before two days of sectional rehearsals and it was evident from the beginning, that the standard of the orchestra was exceedingly high. We had all been sent parts to study beforehand and there was a very committed atmosphere as everyone had arrived to the project well prepared. I made many new friends from all over Europe, most of whom studying in the Netherlands, but the majority of the orchestra members were from Spain! 

We had two concerts - one of which will be broadcast on Dutch Radio. 

I had a wonderful time at the NJO Muziek Zomer Festival. The project is a wonderful way for likeminded musicians to meet from all over the World. This was my first time to visit the Netherlands, and I really enjoyed embracing the Dutch lifestyle, for example the cycling to and from rehearsal and concert venues (up to 30km a day)- with the cello too! The highlight for me was performing to such appreciative Dutch audiences. We performed five concerts in total, all of which were sold out with standing ovations. The festival has so many projects taking place, to name a few, Jazz Big Band, Symphony Orchestra, Opera, Chamber Music, New Music Ensembles. etc. It is thanks to NYOS for the opportunity to take part in the NJO and making me aware of the festival. I will definitely consider auditioning for future projects next summer. 


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