Life in a Suitcase: Canada, VSOIW 2015

Greetings from Whistler, Canada!

I’ve just returned from a full orchestra rehearsal at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute, and have chosen to blog over another early night in my plush queen-size bed. The rehearsal ended at 10pm by the way, AND I still feel the pull of an 8-hour jet lag.


We are playing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (Ballet Suites) and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Here’s a photo from the VSOIW Instagram account – I’m the one sitting closest to the lens at desk 5, ‘suicide corner’, and I am loving it there. I feel like God and can see everything but without any tremendous powers.

I can confirm that this blog still exists and its writer still breathes. For a while, I was treating the blog like a diet. I would open WordPress, begin a draft, and leave it in progress, hoping to complete it tomorrow. And then three months later I’d do the same and see the dregs I had left behind and feel pathetic about not being able to finish something worthwhile. In short, I had commitment issues…

There was another side to the absence. A lot of the time it didn’t feel comfortable to share my life. I was having days that I wanted to keep among my friends and to myself. I was spending more time working out what to do with my life. Often I felt silly taking photographs, and the thought of the internet seeing me caused me to hide further away and fill my pockets with secret trinkets of joy and frivolity.

Now in a fresh environment – a new continent if you will – I feel ready to write for myself again, and for my lovely friends who have requested a reprise. Much has happened since the last. NYOS, exams, eclectic snapshots from London streets, cultural excursions, FOOD, music, music, music, KCLSO tour to Europe,  That I can’t remember more terrifies me. Why didn’t I write more?! Nyarrrrrghhhhhh!

Probably because blogging can be a chore. Right now my photos are taking forever to upload and I wanted to get everything done before midnight. I NEED SLEEP.


This summer I am living out of a suitcase. Before Canada, I went on tour with KCLSO for 5 days to Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and France. I was not planning to go but somebody pulled out last minute, and I found myself in a coach to Luxembourg two days later! We played Shostakovich Symphony No 5, Arutyunyan Trumpet Concerto, Danzon No 2 and the Liebstod from Tristan and Isolde.

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Photo: Jeremy W.

Photo: Oscar I.

We also visited Valkenburg, Holland, for one day, which me and a group of friends spent entirely on eating. Other people had explored caves and things, and injured themselves on the toboggan. We just ate merrily.

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Photo: Amy D.

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Photo by Amy D. Crossing the channel between Dover and Calais.

The tour was probably the last time I will play with KCLSO. My time in the orchestra has been so much fun, and I am extremely grateful and proud to have been its leader for two years – though on tour I was playing principal second. Orchestras create friendships. Not only have I made more (hilarious) friends, but my many of my old friends have stayed in my life by playing in the orchestra as well. Oh I do smell of cheese, the blue, mouldy kind…



I flew from London to Vancouver, and VSOIW had arranged a bus to Whistler, which took around 2-3 hours. Vancouver is surrounded by these mountains. Though distant, theirs shadows and silhouettes mark them as important and dominant in the cosmopolitan life. One of these is Whistler. The area is your quintessential image of Canada, with grizzly bears, wooden houses and steep skii slopes.

We drove uphill. Trees, trees, trees. Rocks. LAKE. It reminded me of Lake Como last summer when I visited Italy with friends, but with less Hollywood, fewer people and buildings and more mystery.

For sleep’s sake I shall fast forward to the present. We have just finished day 3 of the program. (Canada and USA use the word ‘program’ to describe music ‘courses’, or ‘residencies’. Just something I noticed.) In the schedule we had the entire afternoon off, so after some practice, me and some other friends visited Lost Lake to relax, absorb some Vit D and swim our stress away.


Lost Lake








Each room has a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms and two bathrooms. My roomie and I have a room and bathroom each, owing to another girl dropping out. What am I to do with all this space?!

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My bed my bed my bed which I should be in right now but am not because I am writing

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I found my new favourite food: bacon pre-marinated in maple syrup. Back in London I became hooked on spreading honey on my bacon in the last few minutes of cooking. THIS is what I needed all along, and what I hope to import back to Britain, not that I have any customs to face… As it sounds and looks, this bacon is horrifyingly unhealthy, drenched in sugar and comprising more fat than flesh. Coupled with the fact that I fry it in butter, I present myself with a true heart attack every single day, hooray.

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At VSOIW we have been assigned into chamber groups of all kinds, from Paganini’s Caprice No 9 arranged for 8 violins (lol) to double bass duos. There is also a four violin arrangement of Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy, which is basically a concerto for whoever is playing violin I. Another ridiculous sounding piece I look forward to hearing at the concert later this week.

Luckily for me, I get to play violin II in Schubert’s Octet for String Quintet, Horn, Bassoon and Clarinet. The entire work is about an hour long, so we are only doing the first movement (sob). It is delightful, and extremely challenging, particularly the balance, the need to keep it poised and the variety of colours we have to create. My colleagues are all warm, friendly people and very talented players. After two rehearsals, I feel as if we have gelled significantly. We have another day until performance and I look forward to smooth rough edges tomorrow.

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Talking of talent, there’s a girl in the 1st violins, younger than me, who has been frigging solo-ing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She’ll be performing Vivaldi’s Summer at one of their concerts this week. Who, how, and wow?


Okay I have rehearsal in 8 hours. Goodnight goodnight.


5 thoughts on “Life in a Suitcase: Canada, VSOIW 2015

    • Thank you! I would love to go back and explore more cities; the country is huge, there is so much landscape to see. Potential study destination for me too.

      • I also play the Violin, I will be starting Bronze Age instruments and I have plans for making one of the oldest medieval Violins we have in a museum in Italy, we should follow each other to keep in touch – you can try out the first prototype when I make it, if we ever happen to cross paths in Canada that is 😛

      • Amazing! That’s sounds like such a fantastic project, and I’d be delighted to try anything you craft. Good idea to keep in touch. 🙂

        > Le 12 Jul 2015 à 14:30, The Diary of a Noggin a écrit : > > >

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