European Federation of Youth Orchestras MusXchange Winter Project - Blog Post
We have just finished our first week as exchange students with the Netherlands Youth Orchestra (Nationaal Jeugd Orkest), playing a programme of Roukens ‘Chase’, Berlioz ‘Harold in Italy’ and Mussorgsky ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. Our conductor is the wonderful Etienne Siebens, and Isabelle van Keulen joins us as the fabulous viola soloist in the Berlioz.
NJO is made up of students aged 18-30 studying at various conservatoires in the Netherlands. They come from all over the world, from Russia, Spain, Hong Kong and the USA to name a few! Because of the international membership the rehearsals are all in English instead of Dutch.
For the first week the whole orchestra stayed at a ‘StayOkay’ hostel in Apeldoorn. When we arrived, we were astonished to be handed keys, lights and rain ponchos for our NJO bikes! It turned out that the rehearsal venue, Orpheus Theatre, was a 15-minute bike ride into town. Luckily Apeldoorn is very flat, but it was quite a challenge to keep up with the speedy Dutch cyclists, especially on cold, rainy, windy days! Late nights in the hostel made it difficult to get up for breakfast, but we were motivated by the Dutch delicacy HagelSlaag - chocolate sprinkles - which they have on toast for breakfast.
Now into our 6-concert tour, we are staying with a lovely host family for the next week. Our first concert on Friday night was in Utrecht Tivoli Theatre, broadcast live on national radio. Here’s to another 5!