Synergy represented by

from left to right: Peter Wilman, Amanda Morrison, Julia Batchelor, Micaela Haslam, Katy Hill, Andy Busher

“Well, here we are again; in Amsterdam to rehearse and perform Music for Eighteen Musicians and Daniel Variations. Armed with my strippenkaart from our last visit I made my way back to the marvellous Mövenpick hotel we stayed in last time. The view of the city from my room is quite superb and I could have quite happily spent most of the day just watching boats and the ferries chug up and down the Ij.

View from my room

However, I had a rehearsal to go to; so allowing myself at least 2 minutes (plenty of time) I headed next door to the rehearsal in the Muziekgebouw. Asko Schoenberg are a great band and made light work of Daniel Variations, so much so the rehearsal was over in a flash, which left plenty of time for relaxing.

Due to the nature of the schedule it meant I had the whole of the next day free. I had a grand plan to get up early (!), hire a bike and go off exploring for the day. Didn’t quite work out like that though; got up late and spent ages eating a huge breakfast so by the time I got round to hiring a bike half the day had gone. At home I have two bikes, one is a speedy racing bike and the other a serious mountain bike and between them have a total of 57 gears! The bike I hired had one gear and I had to pedal backwards to brake. Once I’d got the hang of that with lots of comic moments at traffic lights, I decided to pootle (definition verb: to move in a leisurely fashion, with or without purpose) round Amsterdam in my armchair bike and see the sights instead.

I had a great day and also managed to do some shopping (a pair of mountain bike shoes which clip into my pedals, a red Crumpler ‘tummy tingler’ shoulder bag, an outrageously patterned top and a large container of wonderful salads from Vroom & Dreesman) and managed to get it all back to the hotel on the back of my bike.

The plan that evening was to meet up with Micaela and the ever lovely Will and possibly the International Man of Mystery, Pete Wilman. Pete had a better offer and met up with some friends, whilst we decided to head across town to go to an Argentinian steak house (near the Concertgebouw) that we’d been to when we were in Amsterdam last November, only to discover when we got there that it was shut for renovation! Hmm, Plan B here we come.

Two more huge and leisurely breakfasts (on different days, obviously) followed by another brief rehearsal and going to hear Micaela and Julia sing in Drumming filled in most of the time before the concert.


Our poster

In Daniel Variations the singers stand/sit in between the four pianos and in front of the four marimbas; this does make you feel as if you are inside the pianos and means in a resonant hall like the Muziekgebouw it’s VERY LOUD and difficult to hear yourself think, let alone sing. Originally we were off to one side which meant that just Gerry (or in this case Pete) had his head inside piano 4. This time, I was sitting right next to piano 2 (with lid off), but fortunately was armed with my very pink earplugs and got through to the end without my ears bleeding! The performances of Daniel Variations and Music for 18 Musicians were great; the band played superbly and is possibly the friendliest bunch I’ve worked with for a long time.

Here’s to the next Synergy/Asko Schoenberg concert. Can’t wait to come back to Amsterdam as I’ve got at least two journeys left on my strippenkaart.”


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