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Dutch National Student Orchestra: one big party

The Dutch National Student Orchestra will be going on tour again in February. Before that, they will have ten days of rehearsals. The level is high and taking part means a total immersion in music.

Thanks to Someren

The schedule for the tour is tightly packed: eleven concerts in eleven locations from 6 to 16 February. The first concert is in Someren, a village in Brabant near to Eindhoven, where the orchestra will stay for a week prior to the concert rehearsing works by Debussy, Grahl, Ravel and Bartok. The first performance of the tour will also take place in Someren. After that, the orchestra will visit all the student cities. They will be staying for a night in each of the locations, in student houses or with host families. 

Making music and friends

Noah Stunt, studying Education and Child Studies in Leiden, and Joep van Lit, who is now studying African Languages and Cultures having completed the bachelor's in International Relations and Organisations, are both enthusiastic about being part of the orchestra. It's the complete immersion in the music that attracts them the most, as well as being together with around 90 other students and the fun and friendship that it brings with it. Noah plays viola and Joep cello. They are both taking part for the second time.  

Intensive rehearsals

It's short but intense and you're totally immersed in it; that's what the atmosphere surrounding the orchestra is like. The auditions were held in November, and the applicants thought they were very strict.  Then there was a rehearsal in December.  After that the musicians had two months to practise at home. At the end of January there will be a week of intensive rehearsals that has to bring the whole thing together, under conductor Bas Wiegers. 

Every day a party

Although the rehearsals last from early morning to the evening, there is also time to relax. And how! 'Every day there's a party and one of the committees of the Dutch National Student Orchestras comes and joins us,' Noah explains. 'And it goes without saying that a lot of beer is drunk.' Joep plays the parties down. 'You do have to get up the next morning fresh for the rehearsals,' he stresses. For Noah, 5 to 6 hours sleep a night should be enough. Her experience is that 'you soon get into the rhythm.' 

Tour to the Wadden Islands

Joep may be studying in Leiden but he was born and bred in Delft and plays in the Delft Student Orchestra Krashna Musika. ‘I stood in one day in the Nijmegen student orchestra via somebody I knew at the NSO.'  He is organising a tour of the Wadden Islands for his' Delft orchestra this year. Noah performs in the UvA orchestra J.Pzn Sweelinck in Amsterdam. Both are members of a student committee of the NSO that organises host families and the after-party.' 

An enriching experience

Noah believes that taking part in the orchestra is a 'truly enriching experience alongside her studies'. She made friends in the orchestra with whom she still has contact almost every day and now she will be seeing them again. Joep is equally enthusiastic. 'These weeks together are one big party.' Is it something you can really combine with your studies? That hasn't been a problem for Joep, but it's not quite so easy for Noah. 'I've spent a lot of time mailing lecturers to make sure that I don't fall behind while I'm away. Some lecturers are willing to help, but others are less flexible.' 

Off to Madrid

After the grand finale in the Concert Hall in Amsterdam, the complete orchestra will take off to Madrid to perform three concerts there, including one 'educational' concert for children. The final performance will take place in the Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel, the church of the papal nuncio. Noah and Joep can hardly wait. 

Photographer: Eduardus Lee

  • Complete list of the concert tour:  Sat 6/2 in Someren, Sun 7/2 in Leeuwarden, Mon 8/2 in Enschede, Tues 9/2 in Utrecht, Wed 10/2 in Groningen, Thurs 11/2 in Leiden, Fri 12/2 in Eindhoven, Sat 13/2 in Nijmegen, Sun  14/2 in Maastricht, Mon 15/2 in Rotterdam and Tues 16/2 in Amsterdam.
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