Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Royal Orchestral Society's Weekend in Cambridge

I know it's Tuesday already, but how was your weekend? I had an amazing time with the Royal Orchestral Society in Cambridge, playing through Mahler's 1st Symphony at the St. Chad's Site of St. Catharine's College (not to be confused with the other St. Catherine's, at Oxford, where John and I met! Different spellings.). But I was so pooped yesterday and now I think I'm coming down with something flu-like! Currently adding honey to my tea as we speak.

I joined the Royal Orchestral Society in 2010, a few years after my initial move to London. Previously, I had been the concertmaster of the Mount Holyoke College Symphony Orchestra and my high school orchestra before that. I never thought I'd pick up my violin again when I came to London, but my father-in-law (whose knowledge of classical music is astronomical - no pun intended, since he's an astrophysicist) encouraged me to join an orchestra and I found one that rehearsed near where I lived at the time in St. John's Wood (convenience is everything!).

Four years later, I've performed some amazing repertoire in beautiful locations (we perform at St. John's Smith Square in Westminster twice a year) with world-famous soloists. On the 30th of November, we'll be performing at Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square, which is a dream come true for me. I've seen some of my favorite musicians perform on that stage, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

But back to this weekend.

This was my view for most of it (if you're a musician and notice that I'm sitting directly across from the cellos, that's because I was sitting first stand, first violins. Yup, scary! Oh, and, surprise solo in the 3rd movement? Check.). I caught a train to Cambridge with Alice (which was not without a little drama at King's Cross when my tickets refused to print and the National Rail staff were extremely unhelpful!) and we arrived in time for rehearsal to begin at 11 a.m. We had a lunch break between 1-2 p.m., but were back in our seats to rehearse after that until 7 p.m. Five hours of Mahler (with a half-hour break in between) is enough to drive anyone nuts and I was getting very, very cranky! My arm also felt like it was about to fall off and my collarbone was bruised.

But it was so much fun. In season, we typically rehearse on Monday evenings, after work, for three hours. After that, you don't really want to talk to anyone - you just want to get home. But during the weekend away, everyone was much more relaxed and it was nice to get to know each other better.

When we weren't rehearsing, we were eating breakfast and lunch here, at the St. Catharine's College Hall. We also stayed in the student halls, so it was just like being a student again and really reminded me of the time I spent studying abroad at Oxford.

We all went out for dinner and drinks on Saturday evening and stayed out way later than we should have (for a group of people who needed to rehearse at 10:30 a.m. the next day, that is). I don't know how it happened, but I somehow ended up playing "I Have Never ..." at the bar and the next morning, I couldn't look a bassist and an oboist in the eye. Yikes.

Basically, like John joked when I got back, it was kind of like being at band camp. Except with much older people and a lot of alcohol (no flute jokes, please).



  1. Sounds like a fun weekend with plenty of...er...bonding, haha. I'm going to try to check out your Cadogan Hall performance! Listening to classical music live is nice b/c you're not expected to be part of a gaggle of frenzied young drunks, haha. You can enjoy it with others, or alone.

    I'd like to find someone to get private lessons from when I get there. I suck at the violin these days; I need to re-learn the instrument completely. They sound gorgeous in the hands of someone who can actually play one well, haha. And speaking of, go you for being first stand in the violin section!

    1. Haha, I'm super lazy and never practice ... I've never liked practicing or even rehearsing with a full orchestra (though I love practicing with a chamber group, like a quartet) but performing is fun.

  2. Replies
    1. I know, Dana - I think that every time I walk out my front door. I'm incredibly lucky. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. As you know, I've been enjoying your Cambridge photos very much! My hometown is near to Cambridge, so I love it there!


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