Synergy represented by

Julia Batchelor, Micaela Haslam, Amanda Morrison, Katy Butler

“It was good to be home after New York, but I only had time to deposit my suitcase, pick up another one I’d packed before going to the US, and head straight off to Amsterdam for the final instrumental rehearsal of Music for 18. The piece was already in excellent shape largely thanks to Wim Voss, who was playing vibraphone this time. (I’ve worked with Wim many times over many years, including at The Conservatory in The Hague, where he masterminded a big Steve Reich project a few years ago.) Everyone I met at this rehearsal was not only highly competent, but also delightfully friendly. I knew at once that this was going to be a good tour.

Julia joined me the following morning for another low-maintenance rehearsal, this time of Drumming. Julia had done the piece with Synergy a while ago, but only the stop-watch version with Ictus and the Rosas dancers. Still, the original concert version was obviously going to be no problem for her at all. We just had to sort out who was giving us cues, who needed our return cues, and who had a useful downbeat in Section 4 so that I could make sure we all ended the piece together. Julia’s partner, David, and their adorable son Sebastian were also with us on this trip and it was great that we were staying at the Mövenpick hotel right next door to the rehearsal venue, so that we could get to and from rehearsals in a matter of seconds.

Although the Mövenpick is slightly out of the centre of Amsterdam, it’s a great place to stay. It’s part of the relatively new Muziekgebouw complex, behind the central station. The hotel rooms are excellent (as is the breakfast), and we all enjoyed the fabulous views out over the water, either over Amsterdam itself, or down the river with its fascinating array of carrier ships.

Next came Katy and Mandy for the first tutti Music for 18 rehearsal. Again this went by with the minimum of fuss. We really only had the “pulses” to worry about, which are more difficult than they look. It’s a question of getting the rises and falls of the swells to overlap seamlessly – rather like a series of breaking waves.

Mandy (left) & Katy out and about

We were lucky to have lots of free time, so as well as enjoying an occasional stroll, I was able to get lots of work done. The free wireless internet in the rooms was a huge bonus in this department. The sun came out most days which made a lovely change from the snow of New York.

Julia, David & Seb in Café de Jaaren

David and Seb headed back to London on the morning of our trip to Rotterdam. The journey for us was only an hour, and we arrived in time for a late lunch, a spot of shopping, an afternoon snooze and then dinner – it’s tough on tour but someone’s got to do it!

Drumming - Left to right: Wim, Rene, Steef & Ger

Music for 18 in rehearsal

The Kunsthal Auditorium is a good size, but incredibly loud for amplified percussion instruments. The wooden stage acted like a giant soundboard and Music for 18 sounded like a rock concert. Drumming was possibly better suited to the auditorium as it’s on a smaller scale, but both pieces went down fantastically well with the audiences. There were originally going to be 3 concerts on the same day, one mid-afternoon, one at 8.30pm and one at midnight! Strangely, the afternoon concert was cancelled, but at least we managed to get the late one brought forward by half an hour to 11.30pm – relatively civilized. The evening concert was streamed live on the internet and apparently looked and sounded great. This was Katy’s first Synergy gig and you’d never have guessed. She did an excellent job.

Our Rotterdam hotel wasn’t quite so luxurious, but we were only there for a couple of nights. Poor Julia had to change rooms in the middle of the night as she was being harassed by a mosquito. I confess I would never have thought of bringing mosquito repellent to Rotterdam in the middle of March. I must add that to my travel list – everything you might ever need on tour – now 5 pages of A4!”


Leave a Reply