NYO 2013 has now begun.

Good morning. We are on the train to Oxford for the National Youth Orchestra Winter Course. Very, very, very excited.

Here is Michael (Principal Clarinet) with his new friend – Google Chromebook. Check him out.
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When passing a bearded man wearing a flat cap by the platform, Michael said:

“That guy looks like Dumbledore.”

If only we were going to Hogwarts… Then again, what would Dumbledore be doing boarding a Hogwarts Express (East Coast) train?
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This winter we are playing:

  • Benjamin Britten’s Sea Interludes – from Peter Grimes
  • John Adams’ Guide to Strange Places
  • …and my favourite: Gustav Holst’s The Planets

…with concerts in Leeds and London! The London one is pretty much sold out. Our conductor is John Wilson, who, from what I’ve seen on YouTube, has a lot of experience in Hollywood film music and jazz. Apparently, he will ask the strings to do a lot of fast vibrato – left hands, be prepared.

So far, I’ve spent my holiday sleeping, wasting time, eating and watching Christmas television programmes – films include Ben Hur, Lord of the Rings; TV, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who. ‘Tis time to actually do something. Like I said, the music is a good challenge. I can’t play it perfectly, but I’ve done my best to prepare for what’s to come.

I’ve only done one piece of homework! Dearie me. However, I did bake brownies on my own for the first time. We ate them all before I could take a photo so here’s the recipe book instead:
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On the other hand, I have been trying out various violin bows, which is rather productive. I’ve had my old one for about 7 years. Now I’ve kind of grown out of it and my previous admiration for its heavy weight has vanished – more like a clumsy stick. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I believe I have found the right one for me; I’ll play it for another 10 days at NYO before confirming my choice.
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As for Christmas shopping, I decided to take responsibility for my own eye health and bought some new glasses frames after my eye test (which revealed to me how unbelievably blind I have become – New Year’s resolution is to take better care of my eyeballs). What do you think? I took this when I was trying them on in the shop:
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They’re very bold compared to rimless ones I’ve been wearing. A change was needed; I have been rimless since primary school! Another growing out of it scenario. The parents have gradually warmed towards the clunky look. Dad said:

“But you look old and heavy!”

To which I replied:

“Yeah, but also super cool, okay?!”

At least if I’m having a scruffy day, my eyewear makes up for some of my laziness.

I hope everyone had a splendid Christmas! See you all in Oxford! Woo!


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