A Month to Remember!
Digital Ambassador Elena Orsi talks us through her first few weeks of 2022 at the RNCM.
Aside from the fact that I am now writing this blog from isolation, alternating between doing actual work and binge-watching Arrested Development (great show!), January has been absolutely incredible. It’s been hands down the busiest month I’ve experienced since starting college in 2019, so picking a few highlights is quite a challenge!
First of all, my quartet (the Ayla Quartet) was asked to play in a Lunchtime Concert on 27 January dedicated to late RNCM composer Lucy Hale, in which we played her two contrastingly beautiful pieces Unreal City and Four Folk Tunes. I also played in a quintet with three strings, a trumpet and flute, which was daunting as it was a completely new ensemble to play with – navigating through the balance of tones and sounds was incredibly interesting. Having only recently starting to play modern music, it was very challenging to put the pieces together in just under 3 weeks but seeing the reactions of Lucy’s friends and family in the audience was unbelievably heart-warming and humbling. Moreover, it was our first public performance as a quartet (because of Covid!) which gave an even more special meaning to it. That day was such a highlight for me, as it was almost completely dedicated to Lucy Hale; my friends and I went to the Spotlight concert at 6pm in which we heard more of her shorter chamber works – they were using knitting sticks in one of them! We then went to listen to Brand New Orchestra, where they played one of her pieces alongside other excellent pieces by RNCM composers. Overall, it was an intensely emotional day filled with gorgeous music, and I’m so grateful to have been able to participate in it.
Another fantastic part of these first few weeks was getting to be in the first Symphony Orchestra concert of the year! This was the first one since my first year (again…because of Covid!), and I’d almost forgotten the feeling of being surrounded by wind, brass, and percussion instruments instead of just strings – not that I don’t like them, but after two years of just playing in string orchestra I was looking forward to something a bit different! Most of the students were 4th years and Postgraduates whom I didn’t know and, like me, there were some 3rd years who had been called in at the last minute to dep for those who could not make it (once again…because Covid!), which meant I got to play with some of my best friends! We played a fiery and energetic program, from Augusta Holmés’ Allegro Feroce, to Ravel’s Piano Concerto with the unbelievably incredible soloist Yiyi Su, and the intense Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony No.3. After the final epic chord of the Saint-Saëns, an audience member shouted “YEAH!” which, other than making me incredibly emotional, reminded me why it is that I chose to do music. This concert was a 10/10 experience, and once again I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of it.
Alongside these performances, January was full of exams and assessments which I won’t talk about as they weren’t really a highlight (although the fact that they’re finally over is a highlight) but it was also full of interesting and beautiful masterclasses by guest artists. The great Henning Kraggerud gave a fantastic masterclass where he talked about the importance of the physicality of the music, and made a few students dance while playing! The amazing Sheku Kanneh-Mason also came to visit the RNCM and gave a stunning performance in the Concert Hall. We had a workshop by classical singer Ron Morris which focused on breathing, posture, staying calm (much needed during this month) and general wellbeing! Speaking of wellbeing, the SU organised fantastic activities for wellbeing week, from free Alexander Technique sessions to petting guide dogs! Despite the fact that I am now stuck at home and missed out on the SU activities, a 15-minute dog-petting session would have undoubtedly topped everything else I’ve talked about.
Having started the year in such a wonderful way, I can’t help but look forward to the upcoming months; March is going to be filled with music, from chamber music competitions to another Symphony Orchestra (this time we’ll be playing modern music which includes instruments like electric bass and electric guitar!!!). I will also be starting my professional placement with Olympias Music Foundation, a Manchester-based charity who work to champion diversity in music. I hope that everyone is as excited as I am!
17 February 2022