BWW Guest Blog: The Toronto Symphony on being 'Eclectic in Amsterdam!'
BroadwayWorld brings you an exclusive guest blog from Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Leslie Dawn Knowles! In this exclusive guest blog, Leslie shares with us a day in her life on tour with the orchestra, in Amsterdam!
Being on tour in the first violin section of the TSO , one might think I would be limited to the notes on a page, but I am also a jazz violinist and bluegrass fiddler and have no musical limits.
Today's rare day off for the TSO tour means exploring the city and it's music. I hop in a taxi to meet up with a local friend and her gypsy jazz band with whom I'll play tonight.
Hanging out in my friend's spacious loft full of her paintings and musical instruments, we spend the afternoon going over tunes, visiting, and watching the rain and sun vie for attention out the huge windows. Even though we have just met, we are catching up like old friends and I know right away this will be good!
We make our way to Cafe Langeries, located on a corner by one of the many of Amsterdam's picturesque bridges. This quaint old place is already crowded with people of all ages, and the vibe is very good. We settle in and begin to play, and find our audience to be very enthusiastic. We play a mix of mostly Django Reinhardt tunes with some jazz standards here and there, the slow ones hauntingly beautiful and the faster swing ones fiery and spirited.
In the band is David Niglo Grünholz an amazing, versatile guitar player and a soulful musician who can play faster than the speed of light. My husband, TSO Principal Tuba Mark Tetreault is also an adventurous soul and played bass for us.
As the evening goes on we get more and more fearless and the crowd eats it up. At one point, we decide to do a a bluegrass version of Sweet Georgia Brown and it's off to the races. This ignites the audience into a frenzy and as we finish the tune everyone is laughing with joy. The evening winds down and I head back to sleep and ready myself for our TSO concert the next day. My head is buzzing with all kinds of happy emotions and it's hard to settle, but a nice warm bath does the trick and I drift off to sleep.
The next day, I wander on over to the Concertgebouw to check things out. This is quite a different setting than last night! The building itself is stately and beautiful, and as I make my way into the hall, I feel as if I have entered a holy place. I can feel the energy which has been left by all of the great artists who have graced the magnificent stage, and it gives me goosebumps. The orchestra tunes, and as we start to play I am struck by the gorgeous legendary acoustic which makes this place so famous and well loved. My colleagues here are fantastic musicians and I am thrilled by how this hall shows just what a great orchestra we are. The sound just blooms - from the softest pianissimos to the loudest fortes, it is always beautiful. I am so proud of my friends and happy to share this incredible experience with them, each and every one a very special artist.
And it is so easy to play! My violin is definitely happy and so am I. Just as last night, the crowd is warm and very appreciative, and as we take our bows I again find myself tearing up with happiness.
I have to pinch myself to realize this is not just some wonderful dream - within 24 hours I have been privileged to make music of all kinds with friends, and share it with so many people. I probably could not have a spoken conversation with many of them, yet the language of music has crossed that barrier and we are all closer as a result. It is a wonderful life and I am grateful beyond words.
Photo: Leslie Dawn Knowles and her bluegrass band.