The experience of a lifetime

Dear everyone,

As said and promised we’re back with a new article on our blog. Like we mentioned in the previous article, we have been away with the Ricciotti Ensemble. It’s been already a bit more than three weeks since we got back from our tour in the Netherlands. It was truly an amazing and inspiring tour for both of us. That’s why I would like to dedicate at least one article to this orchestra.

Let me start off by saying that this orchestra is not like any other orchestra you can find in the Netherlands. This street symphony orchestra was established in the 70’s and had a specific goal: to ‘bring art to the streets’. The orchestra didn’t perform at regular concert venues but chose to perform on the street, in jails, hospitals, mental institutions, schools, outdoor festivals, swimming pools, at people’s homes and so on. Nothing is too crazy for this orchestra. The aim is to give people who are not always able to come to concerts a chance to experience a performance with a small symphony orchestra. The orchestra plays classical music, jazz, pop, folk, rock, you name it! That’s also one of the reasons what makes it fun to play in the Ricciotti Ensemble.

With this short introduction, I would like to tell you my first impression on playing with this orchestra. My lovely Saskia has been concertmaster of the orchestra for some years already and I’m glad that she convinced me to do an audition for the spring tour this year! It took me one year before I had the time to do this project, and I wish I could have done it earlier as it was an unforgettable experience. But what was so unforgettable about it? What made it so fun to do? I’ll give you an example of a performance we had.

One of the most amazing moments in my life (yes in my life!) has been performing with this orchestra for children from foreign countries. A lot of those children just came from a war zone and have been living in the Netherlands for a short while, following lessons at a weekend school to get integrated into the society. The children were so happy and enthusiastic about the fact that we performed for them. You could see it in their smiles and in the engagement during the performance. In the break, two girls from Syria (they were sisters) came to me and asked me if they could try out my violin. I can’t even describe how cute and sweet they were and how happy they were to try out the instrument. The elder sister told me that she had a few violin lessons already and that she wanted to practice hard so that she could also play in an orchestra when she would grow up. To see the enthusiasm in her eyes made me sad and happy at the same time. They didn’t deserve to get in a situation in which they had to flee from their country. At the same time, I felt that this was an important moment for her, to feel happiness and to be able to share it.

After the break, we continued with the performance. I can’t really remember which exact pieces we played before the break, but afterwards, we played one movement of ‘Ma Mère l’Oye’ by Ravel. The children were invited by the conductor to come sit between the orchestra members. The moment we started the music you could see the eyes getting bigger. From the corner of my eye, I saw that the youngest of the Syrian sisters was watching every movement I made. The moment that we played there in the midsts of children was a magical moment. Watching their silent gazes was incredible. And what better way to connect than on Ravel’s enchanting music.

The feeling that you might have made a difference in someone’s life is an extraordinary feeling. Doing something that inspires others is great and I want to keep doing that.

Are you thinking: I want to know more about this ensemble? Have a look at the documentary beneath and you’ll find out what kind of orchestra it is! I could write a million things more about this orchestra, but I think this is enough for one read ;)


Photo and video by Wout Nooitgedagt

Author: Nino Natroshvili

Violinist and student at the Utrecht Conservatory, the Netherlands.

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