A Weekend of Beethoven – RNCM Chamber Music Festival

In September last year, our quartet had just been put together and we were told about the RNCM festival. Just over a month later we started to work on the piece; and now, it’s done! Here’s a summary of our memorable weekend.

Sustenance for our train to Manchester: a box of chocolate drops.
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Accompanied with a packet of digestive biscuits:
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We enjoyed a late night Chinese takeaway…the violist clearly flat out after eating:
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We were up early the following morning (Saturday) for the 09:30am Workshop with Levon Chilingiriam and suddenly found ourselves playing in it, sight-reading a Beethoven Quartet F Minor ‘Serioso’ No. 11, Op. 95, along with RNCM students who had already played it before; it was not your standard Saturday morning. We loved every minute of it – anyway, what better way to get to know a piece than by playing it.
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Afterwards, we went to a morning concert featuring the Zelkova Quartet, whose programme also included the ‘Serioso’ quartet. And there I was comparing it to the abnormal noises I was making earlier and thinking that that’s how it was meant to sound… It’s meant to sound like beautiful music.
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– People trying out new instruments.

It was lovely to see familiar NYO and ex-school faces. The place was incredibly busy. The end of each concert brought a new flock of people into the main hall.

We were down to perform in the Afternoon Concert at Opera Theatre and were fortunate enough to get a lot of rehearsal time – over an hour. The other ensembles in the programme were all RNCM students (if I am correct?) who sounded amazing from where we were sitting backstage. I guess it was nice to have a diverse range of ages, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous.

It was so very dark on stage. All I can remember was that the lighting was blue and my mind was going in all sorts of places. (Although I am still young, I am very impatient with myself and wish to have the ability to perform fearlessly at my age. I am rather jealous of arrogant people who don’t appear to have a single doubt in their mind which causes them to lose concentration.)
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos– Rehearsing…

A sense of achievement was felt when we went off stage – and we humbly came on again to bow once more when the applause kept going.

The evening concert featured the Talich Quartet. They were mind-blowing. I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. I didn’t have any comprehensive programme notes on the works they were playing either – I thought it would go on forever and in some ways I wish it did. One of the works they played was the Grosse Fugue Op.133, and to me it sounded like the writing of a composer from a completely different era.

The players completely took up the characters of each work. On one occasion, they were ‘galloping’; they had a lot of feet movement actually, and shiny polished shoes.

The following morning (Sunday – today) they held a workshop on the Grosse Fugue, which we attended (minus our sleepy cellist). Yes, we sightread that crazy piece at 09:30am. I must admit it was a lot easier having someone beside me who knew how it went and who had a part that included very helpful pencil markings to guide me – I would say that one would be very lucky to have all those things when reading through a brand new piece – would you say it’s sight reading?

More like tagging along or hanging on for dear life.

I am glad I stood up to play with them. It’s weekends like these that will remain with me for a long time.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosI shared a part with the second violinist, Roman. The whole quartet were lovely! Hearing them exchange directions in Czech was very cool indeed. I hope I get to meet them again someday.

So, we did it! We performed at the RNCM Chamber Music Festival. It’s sad to leave behind a work that we have worked so hard for, but it’s nice to move onto something new.

Next up: Ravel String Quartet.


6 thoughts on “A Weekend of Beethoven – RNCM Chamber Music Festival

  1. Sounds wonderful! I’ll need to revisit Manchester at some
    point – it’s such a lovely city, and I’ve heard the college itself
    is fabulous. Have you heard any news from Oxford?

    • It really was fantastic! I love the atmosphere at the Royal Northern – there’s always so much going on. Make sure you pop into the college for a concert or two. There is always something to enjoy.

      As for Oxford, I didn’t receive an offer. I’m not too bothered, since it’s such a competitive and unpredictable process. Plenty of other universities to be part of!

  2. Nice to see you that day! I didn’t realise you were there all weekend though, thought you were just there for the day! They’re going a bit Beethoven-mad there at the moment, like every concert has Beethoven in it… By the way, great blog! Have you read Ermos’?

    • Thanks Harry! It was lovely to see you as well. I had a great time, but I can imagine Beethoven becoming tedious when performed every single day… Yes, I have indeed read Ermos’ – I couldn’t stop laughing at the nickname he gave me! Bless that lovely lad. (Did you get an email about Buckingham Palace?)

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