Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's Cold!

Bruges is not the warmest place to be, even in summer. Today it's raining, as it has just about every day, and the forcast is for a top of 16 degrees - it feels like Melbourne in winter, except it is much prettier! I didn't really plan for it to be this cold, and didn't pack enough warm clothes, so I might have to go and investigate some shops and see if I can get a couple of warm things.

The semi-finalists were announced last night - and I was not surprised to find that I was not one of them. Out of the 60 entrants in the competition, only about 10 made it to the semis. I only heard a couple of their performances in the first round, but I think they all would have been pretty amazing. I am looking forward to hearing them perform tomorrow.

I am not at all disappointed to not be in the second round. I am quite happy for the pressure to be off, and to be able to listen to as much as I can and absorb as much as I can. In a way I feel that it is more useful for me to listen and learn while I am here, rather than practice and perform. I can practice and perform at home, but I can't listen to some of the best musicians in Europe at home!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Better... Worse...

I listened to several of the other participants in the competition this afternoon, and came to the conclusion that:

1. My Bach and Buxtehude were better than many, and

2. My Scarlatti was certainly no worse than quite a few.

So now I'm not feeling so bad!

Now, off to find something for dinner...

Friday, July 27, 2007


Well it's over.

I just played my first round performance for the competition. I felt pretty good before I went in, and had a good warm-up, playing slowly through the fast pieces and settling as much as I could.

I waited outside the hall while they introduced me and announced the order of my performance, then walked in to sporadic clapping, took my bow and settled down at the instrument.

2 days ago I had a rehearsal in the hall, when I chose which one of the two harpsichords I would play. There was a dark green one and a light green one - I chose the light green one because it had a nicer touch that I felt was easier and more natural for me to play.

Back to the performance: the first piece was a Buxtehude suite, which I really enjoy. I was really trying to listen to the music and I am happy with my performance. Two Bach sinfonias were next, which I am also mostly happy with - I felt that my playing was expressive and there was one little mistake in one of them which I didn't really worry about.

Then disaster struck: the final part of the program was two Scarlatti sonatas, which for some reason I have a complex about. I can play them very well when I'm alone, but in front of an audience strange things seem to happen. All of a sudden I became really nervous, and didn't trust that my fingers knew what they were doing. I felt out of control, and there were quite a few mistakes - I even left a bar out at one point! The bits in between the mistakes were pretty good, but I don't feel so great about that performance.

I'm pretty sure the Scarlatti debacle will knock me out of the running for round 2, but I'm going to keep practicing until I know for sure, rather than admit defeat now. I don't really mind about not going through to round 2, but I would like to have felt good about my round 1 performance. I feel good about 60 percent of it, but not about the rest. I guess that's how things go, sometimes, though...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brugge - at last

I am in Brugge finally! But it was a bit of a saga getting here...

I turned up at Melbourne airport on Saturday evening, joined the Thai Aiways queue, and went up to the check-in desk in due course. The man checked my passport, put a tag on my suitcase and asked for my ticket. `Oh, it´s an e-ticket, you just need my passport´ I said...

Apparently, despite telling me that I had an e-ticket, my travel agent had actually booked me a paper ticket. I thought I had an e-ticket, the airline had no e-ticket in their system, and my travel agent, despite being a large national chain, no longer had a 24 hour phone service. So I couldn't get on a plane on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, I rang the travel agent - they couldn't help me because their ticket office is not open on weekends... In the end my mum booked me a completely new ticket with Qantas, ringing them as we were on the way to the airport at 1pm. At 1:30 I picked up my ticket and checked in for the 3:30 flight to London. When the plane finally taxied down the runway, I almost couldn't believe that I was actually on board, going to Europe.

I arrived in Brussels on Monday morning, welcomed with a lovely grey, rainy Belgian summer's day! After catching the slow train to Bruges (I later found out that the L on the train timetable stood for Local (stops at every two-bit, one horse, three cow village)) and sharing a compartment with assorted Flemish farmers, dressed in pullovers and gumboots, I finally arrived in Bruges, where it was still cold and raining and grey. But at least I got there!

Friday, July 13, 2007

One week to go!

... or more precisely one week and one day to go before I leave for Europe.

I guess this is the time for the big announcement: I'm going to Bruges to participate (I hate the word compete!) in this year's Harpsichord Competition. This is why I have been so quiet over the past coupla months - I've been practicing my ass off! Oh, and the fact that I'm still having a fight with the computer repair people, who didn't fix my computer properly, and still have it sitting in their workshop... yes, that might have something to do with it as well...