Universiteit Leiden

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Student orchestra: ‘I love a bit of power’

The Dutch Student Orchestra is performing at Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden’s concert hall, on 11 February. Several Leiden students have sacrificed many a free hour to the rehearsals. Days before the big performance we present them with three dilemmas.

Sanne Pouw

Wagner, Stravinsky or Van Veldhuizen?

Sanne Pouw (Bassoon, Education): ‘That’s a tricky one because the three pieces that we are playing are all beautiful in their own unique way. But if I had to choose, it would have to be Le Sacre du Printemps by Igor Stravinsky. It’s a riot of a piece, which makes it epic to play. And it has a gorgeous high bassoon solo at the beginning.’

Sonja Schravesande (First violin, Linguistics): ‘I also think playing Stravinsky is the most fun, but Vorspiel und Liebestod by Richard Wagner is the most beautiful of the pieces. The music lines are always going somewhere, never to be resolved in the end. Just when you think it’s finished, a new melody begins elsewhere. It’s simply stunning.’

Sebastiaan ten Kate (Timpani, Law): ‘I also really enjoy playing all three pieces. But the piece by Rick van Veldhuizen is extra special because he composed it especially for the Dutch Student Orchestra. He’s also around the same age as us, which is inspiring. He’s always on the hunt for new sounds and uses instruments in experimental ways. Tricky for us, but it makes his pieces very atmospheric.’

Sebastiaan ten Kate

Famous musician or famous academic?

Sonja: ‘We’ve actually already made that choice by going to university. If we’d really wanted to break through in music, we’d have gone to conservatory. So I’m more likely to end up in academia, although I don’t know exactly where.’

Sebastiaan: ‘I’d choose to be a famous academic. I love making music, but more as a hobby. I hope I’ll be able to combine my law studies with my love of music at some point in the future. I’m really interested in intellectual property, and obviously that’s about creative output such as music.’

Sanne: ‘I’d still choose to be a musician. I see it in my studies: much less music being made at primary schools than when I was young. And that’s a shame because music gives extra colour to life. If you’re only involved in knowledge transfer, life becomes very boring indeed.’

Sonja Schravesande

Big company or intimate quartet?

Sebastiaan: ‘If I had to choose, I’d go for a big orchestra. The more instruments you have, the better the sound combinations you can create. A precisely crafted piece of percussion can be the cherry on the cake. You infuse it with an intimate golden layer and make it that bit more atmospheric, but on the other hand with the timpani you can also bring it to an amazing climax. Percussion can make something greater or more intimate, and that’s what I like about it.’

Sanne: ‘I love a bit of power too, so I’d also go for the big company. The percussion, the beat and the melodic lines running through it: it’s mind-blowing. And as a musician you get to channel your creativity.’

Sonja: ‘I can’t choose. In an intimate group you know one another through and through, but an orchestra performance is an amazing piece of teamwork. They both have their charms.’

Text: Merijn van Nuland
Photos: Veerle Bastiaanssen
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