April: Postcards from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strasbourg

Edinburgh – 03.04.16

The clock reads 02:59AM and my train is at 07:33AM, but my mind continues to reel round between my temples the pages of music that I don’t know, and my heartbeat is running away. I have tried every corner of the bed. I’ve crooked my back into countless different angles, spread my arms out under the pillows, listened to the radio, gone to the toilet, drank water …

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Four days, only four days, and oh how long those days will be. Will they have prepared well? Oh hell, even I haven’t practised those sections and nor reached the metronome mark of 140. Too late now, you should have just grown up and gotten over yourself last week when you were going through your sulky phase. I’ve had enough of the self-pity, child. Switch on your periphery and banish that useless, bulky fear. One flicker of an anxious eyelid and the ground collapses beneath our chairs, the music shatters in the air.


Glasgow – 09.04.16

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When I sit in that seat, I feel as if I’m being pulled apart in all directions. Inside it’s like a dozen tug-of-war matches overlapping each other with the ropes crossing in the middle. There are notes I need to read, eyes I must meet, and there are eyes looking for me from every part of the room, which I might not ever see, that I must connect with through my playing. I have a violin scroll to lift and sweep but a bow which sometimes needs to move in a direction that does not complement that of the scroll. I must always be there for the conductor, sometimes in duet with him or her but definitely not all the time.

I have to be precise, but natural and not mathematic; I have to be organised but play from the heart.

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I have high expectations of the musicians and a glorified image of the music in my head, which are yet too great for me to fully embody or achieve. (My god can I play appallingly and know that everyone can hear me play it.) While I strive for all of this, I must also accept what we are and how we sound, respect the efforts and intentions, including my own, and not let the imperfections weaken the hope. I have to play out in moments of absolute terror even though I might be terrified myself. When I sense fragility, I sit up tall to be there for them, no matter how tired my arms are.

nyosConcert photos: nyos.co.uk

Nyos 1

Why am I even scared, it’s just some bars of music?

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Always breathe. Always, always, always stay in the groove. “But what is the groove,” you ask, “and how can I find it and stay in it?” Here’s the part where I sound like a spiritual guru:

The groove is a unique rhythmic and sonic energy that belongs to no single human being, but exists for all to enjoy and share. It is attainable only through one’s attitude, emotion or affection towards the music, usually beginning with a partial or total liberation of the body and mind, which enables one to join the groove, and a complete disregard of one’s selfish interpretation of what the groove is or should be. Such interpretation hinders a musician from joining it, or, if he or she is already within the groove, forces them out of it. (Xu, 2016)

Origin: unknown but dates at least from the beginning of time.

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By the final day, my ears had truly shown symptoms of tinnitus, a tragic consequence of Prokofiev’s soaring E-string melodies under my left ear, a gorgeous french horn soloist who was nevertheless shouting into my right, and the joyous chorus of Scots songs in the bar from the previous night, like a football stadium it was. An incessant ringing, like a high-pitched dialling tone, almost at dog-whistle pitch, persisted in my ears all day, something which has only ever occurred to me after being in a nightclub until 3AM.

I was wincing during rehearsals like the music was drilling holes into my teeth and skull.

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Who’d imagine two of the loudest things in the world being nightclubs and symphony orchestras…

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And we’re back together this summer for this.


Strasbourg – 18.04.16

En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil
In April, don’t remove a thread [of your clothing]

Day of exam of History of Political Ideas : 20.C

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Bischwiller – 24.04.16

Day of Sistema Alsace stand at the local flower market : felt like 5.C

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Vegetable art.

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Sistema Stand. Playing and teaching in the cold.

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Children’s books, brother and sister spotted in the background playing obstacle course together.

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Have some pensées // pansies // thoughts for 60 centimes.

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A handsome flower.
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This week I stuck stickers on all the violin fingerboards because the kids are learning the left hand and the notes to Frère Jacques. That gives me joy.

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Strasbourg – 29.04.16

A love poem delivered under my door… Processed with VSCO

I love you beyond you

I will love, whoever will hear me cry
That I love you
Thirty thousands years
I call out
I call out but who will answer me
I want to love you I love you

Who is this ?


I have some time to find out.

5 months without any academic obligations.

2 months left in France.

3rd year university, completed.

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