Postcard from Edinburgh

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I.

As the bus turns left from the East end of Princes Street, a macabre scene bleeds into one’s periphery like an incoming raincloud. The passengers look up out of the blindness of their touch-screens and crane their necks by the window-glass.

It can’t be. He was immortal…

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Bruxelles

They told me
Travelling is perfect
Even to the capital
of the death

of Europe.

One single purpose:

Go.


 

On Mont des Arts

Met the pads and the palms
of the man on a drum
with my wooden knuckles in the strings

Together perfecting
the weather between
them

 

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Revelation at Eurostar Check-in

Did I know that

burger means
citizen in Flemish
anyway, it’s bürger in German.

It all makes sense now
why some cities end

with -burgh
like Edinburgh

why some
end -bourg like
Strasbourg and why

some with -burg
Freiburg aha and

why, it feels good

to make burgers.

Home

I

sunlight humming
caressing blood
body corridor he
knows she knows
I know we know
doors speaking a coffee
thinking alive toilet is
necessary showery
laughing keys
culpability
have a pot of tea
therapy laundry

II

Shedding the skin of the day;
Drinking the glitter from the window pane.


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Orange

If I held your mind
in my hand
like an M&S orange

I’d press my thumb into the rind
push closer to the pulse
hear the gasp as
it broke and the baby
swirl of smoke coughs
out of the tiny eye

I’d smile at the smell
I knew I’d find

Wouldn’t it be nice
to dig my nails under the white

scoop out the weighty segments
golden and generous (like your laugh)
pull them apart (like tissue sheets)
and place them over my eyes.

Every morning
wake up

to fireflies

 


 

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Yé Ye | 爷爷 | Grandpa

He was a lone traveller, a truly gentle man, who had nearly lost all his teeth. He sat at the back of the bus, hardly spoke, and often wandered away all by himself. When he did speak it was a dialect that nobody could understand.

 

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August 21st 2013 – Adventures to the mall and movie theatre!

This past week I’ve been on my laptop the whole time writing, receiving and forwarding emails to the four corners of the world. Of course having such a device is indeed a luxury for anyone. But as my only method of communication, I am growing tired of its use, and therefore kind of deluded.

University this, that, loan, rent, budget,  sending copies to Mum, Dad, and emailing far too many student societies asking to be part of them. Oh my god save my eyeballs from imploding! All made worse by the fact I’ll probably be using eBooks as study material for the next few years, I’ll be glued to this machine 24/7, and that frightens me.

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Not sure how the duo-spectacles thing is going to work out in the long term. Might have to invest in a pair of clip-on shades to fix onto my glasses, like the ones my Dad uses. He looks questionably cool…

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Oh no! NYO 2013 is over!

Wait, what, where, how, why?! Really? Has it come to an end?

Yes.

The NYO Prom happened last Sunday. A culmination of a year’s work; the highlight on our calendars. They say our concert was the first ever to be completely free to the public, tickets, programmes and all. Even I failed to grab hold of extra tickets. After only 8 minutes, they were completely sold out. On top of that, it was celebrating bicentenary of the Royal Philharmonic Society, offering a world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Frieze”, and NYO’s first go at Beethoven 9.
– “Simply unmissable” – as one Irish newspaper put it.

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Photo courtesy of BBC Proms: “Ode to joy, ode to joy, ode to joy, ode to joy!”
Yes, those are the words to the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, as declared by certain members of the NYO.

Strangely, I was not feeling very nervous about playing the notes live on Radio 3 (filmed for TV broadcast next month). There was another matter which occupied my mind: my new concert dress. I had been pretty adventurous in my choice of performance outfits overall, pushing the boundaries further and further in each successive concert.

This one, however, was my most daring yet. Not because it was short, or big; but because it was excessively, spectacularly, sparkly. Endearing as it sounds, I feared it would attract unwanted attention and make me stick out, like a naive girl who tries too hard to attract people at primary school Christmas discos.

As we made our way onto the stage at 7:30pm, I was still questioning the appropriateness of my attire.
“Jacob, are you sure it’s fine? It’s so sparkly, arghhhh…” Soon I forgot about trivial things, and found myself heavily engrossed in the music.

Oh my god, it was so amazing…

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NYO Week 1: “I’m not tired and never will be!”

Okay, I have a question for all of you, especially the NYO folk.

When you ask someone,

“Hey! How are you?”

…how many times, I repeat, how many times have you received this reply?

“I’m good thanks… Tired though.”

Yes, you’ve heard it before, the typical unimaginative answer so often uttered by an orchestral musician.

Nobody has been the exception to this yet. Not one person in this orchestra. I am determined, however, to avoid using this phrase and construct spectacular alternatives every time. Please, let’s inject some positive energy, as they say here. We haven’t even reached the end of the residency yet.

Anyway, here’s a quick summary of week 1. Enjoy.

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Sectionals finished yesterday morning, and we said goodbye to our incredible tutor, Kyra Humphreys.

We will miss hearing the barking dogs outside the building and the deafening rain against the windows that swamped our pianissimo playing.

I love our section; we work so well together. Our productivity seems to have improved greatly as we were even making progress by Day 2:

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N.B. This photo does not reflect the quality of Natalie’s playing at all. Gi was just tired.
(See what I’m getting at?! Tired!)

Mealtimes have been a joyous occasion.

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I’ve been mauled by a Scottish Big Bear many times:

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Break times are well spent, on playing our own instruments…

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After a few days, we were reduced from our full string sectional format (violins + violas + cellos + basses) to smaller ‘octet’ style ensembles, which enabled us to become more aware of interweaving textures in the music and communicate with players seated further away. Desks from the front were grouped with those from the middle and back of other sections. My group was aptly named Lions – such ferocious players, we must be.

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From 10am – 1pm today, we had our first rehearsal with NYO Principal Conductor, Vasily Petrenko. We thought we were working hard already, and then he arrived only to make us play spikier, shorter, and prettier, like in this movement.


Everybody also took part in the community projects for the Derry City of Culture celebrations. The majority were involved in Play at Our Place and Inspire Day. Play at Our Place consisted of NYO members working with young musicians to create a mini-concert in the young musicians’ living rooms.

Inspire Day, the activity I did, similarly invites local young musicians to work with NYO members side-by-side, but in a full orchestral setting. On this occasion we were lucky enough to be conducted by Vasily as well! (I need to start writing about/editing material from today… Eeeek.)

My friends take a well-deserved flop on the mats after a crazy day:

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And then we all went a-bowling…

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Borrowed from friend's Twitter

Photo taken from a friend’s Twitter

…and walked to the river, eating MacDonald’s fries as the rain began to pour down.

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Tomorrow: a lie-in, and also the arrival of the choirs! Waah!

Back in London: NYOGB meets NYOUSA

Yesterday, several NYO members had the great pleasure of meeting our sister orchestra – the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America! We were invited to watch the rehearsal for their Prom, which took place that evening, and then to lunch.

Us Brits would say we had a very lovely day. Americans apparently prefer to use the word:

“AWESOME!”

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