Synergy represented by

Julia Batchelor, Micaela Haslam

Posing in Amsterdam

“Will and I had treated ourselves to an extra night in Amsterdam, but I’d had to change my flight because of a last minute film session, so Will ended up heading off to Amsterdam on his own. At least I managed to get there that same evening. Sadly my luggage didn’t and I had to wait until late the following morning to be reunited with my clothes and toiletries.

That afternoon was our first rehearsal for Daniel Variations, conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw. It was lovely to see Reinbert again after our big Andriessen project together last June. Reinbert is always so full of energy and enthusiasm, and is totally committed to what he’s doing. He had obviously looked at the score thoroughly, and I felt a little awkward pointing out several changes that Steve Reich had made to various tempi and dynamics during the final rehearsals for the premiere. There was no way that Reinbert could have foreseen these and I hope he didn’t feel undermined in any way. He was certainly very kind about it and we were grateful for that, as the changes definitely made for a better rendition of the piece. [Note to self – mention this to Boosey & Hawkes!]

The rehearsal schedules for 1st and 2nd April were intertwined. Julia and I were involved in both concerts so had more rehearsals to attend. We didn’t mind at all, however, as the players were such a delight to work with.

Marcel, Niels & Fedor on marimbas

It was great to have Will around for this leg of the project. The weather was fabulous every day and we did lots of walking. We even managed to get into the Anne Frank house – a miracle! Last June, every time I went past the building, there was a queue a mile long. This time, we hadn’t even planned to go in, but were delighted to find the entrance deserted. I actually thought the place was closed. Anyway, I’m so glad we saw the exhibition, which is extremely well laid-out these days. It has been modernised considerably over the years, partly to preserve the place, I imagine, but also to provide much more information using modern technology. As you make your way through the house, there is a series of screens dotted about, showing interviews with those who survived, childhood friends etc, and telling the story from a variety of perspectives. I recommend it – if you can get in!

It’s always fun to watch removal men at work in Amsterdam. Because of the narrowness of all the houses with their unbelievably steep and narrow winding staircases, removals can only be achieved via the windows. They have these fabulous platform lifts, which must make the job easier than it is in the UK. No lugging furniture up and down stairs.

Moving house in Amsterdam

Finally we got to see the main hall of the Muziekgebouw, and it was a very pleasant surprise. Both Louis Andriessen and Reinbert had told me what a fabulous space it was, and we weren’t disappointed. It has an air of funky contemporary music about it – just the thing for Drumming. The final rehearsal took very little time, as we had all performed the piece so recently in Rotterdam. It was just a question of sorting out the balance. It was very sweet of the sound engineer to try and adjust our foldback speakers for the racket that is the end of Section 4. It doesn’t matter which stage you’re on, we’re always completely inaudible at the end, when everything is playing at the same time and we’re quite low in our voices, trying to compete with a piccolo – not a chance! Fortunately the piccolo in this case was being played by the lovely Ingrid Geerlings, so we didn’t mind too much. Apparently it all sounded great from the front, and that’s what matters!”

Taking a bow


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