Aldeburgh Festival

24 June 2015
Johane Gonzalez Seijas

Johane Gonzalez Seijas



The journey from Berlin to London felt like it was going to be a little difficult right from the beginning. You can just imagine what is involved with getting oneself and a double bass in its flight case (2,10 metres tall) to the airport, what’s more in a taxi which never turned up.

On top of all this, it was the 6th of June, my mum’s birthday and the final of the Champions League. I only just managed to buy a cake and sing her a quick “Happy Birthday” before having to leave. Of course there was no chance of my seeing the match as I was stuck in a bus on the way to our home for the next 10 days, why was this happening to me … Was this the famous karma we hear about?

However, I couldn’t have imagined what I would be feeling the next day when I went for a stroll on the beach, finding myself at “The Scallop” and reading “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”.

I felt overwhelmingly nostalgic in this atmosphere as this was the last work I played with my former orchestra in Gran Canaria. That name, Peter Grimes, filled my mind from this moment. Those of us who were involved in the chamber music concert had the pleasure of arriving three days before the rest of the orchestra at Snape Maltings for our rehearsals.

Once everyone had arrived, we started working with George Benjamin. I had never played with him and was anxious to get to know the composer of Written on Skin.

He was extremely relaxed and friendly towards us but always concentrating on the tiniest of details nevertheless, he didn’t miss a thing. I enjoyed his work enormously, nothing got away from him and the Ravel piano concerto in G was a particular pleasure. It was played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. I don’t know what it is about the trills in the second movement, but I just float away when I hear them. This time however, I was left suspended in air for longer than usual as Emma Schied left us breathless with one of her amazing cor anglais solos, as is so often the case … Bravo!

François Xavier Roth was at the helm of our second concert. I loved his dynamicism and passion, I had never played with him either and just love these wonderful surprises.

We finished our time in Snape with the chamber music concert where we presented works by Ravel, Nesbit, Mozart, and Schubert. Forgive me, but those who know me well will tell you that I rarely exaggerate, but what a concert! Congratulations to everyone, especially Tim for his violin solo in the Nesbit and Jaan and Peter for their tremendous stamina, having played every piece on the programme. After the performance many people from the audience came up to us to congratulate us on our lovely concert and above all to ask “When will you be back?”

It was quite special to start with chamber music, continue with the full orchestra and then return to the chamber music at the end. Rather like sonata form in itself or ABA (my apologies, if I missed the opportunity for a silly joke, I wouldn’t be myself).

Earlier I used the word “home”. It’s the first time I have shared a home with my colleagues from the MCO, like everyone on this trip. We were all put up in houses in Aldeburgh and Snape and it was really fun to get to know the little idiosyncrasies we all have once the door is closed behind us and we find ourselves all together in the most important room of the house, the kitchen.
The whole town became a kind of residency for us during those days where we could go from door to door visiting our friends after rehearsal to have dinner, run on the beach or go out for fish and chips.

I felt so free and at peace during the bike rides from Aldeburgh to Snape and back. I will miss those walks across the pebbles on the beach and that fear that one enormous seagull might have the bright idea, at any moment, to unload inflight and drop everything on top of me …

I hope it will be a “See you soon!” for Aldeburgh and Snape.