AYO Blog

Australian Youth Orchestra International Tour 2019
By Ruby Shirres

Landscape photo taken outside the Akoesticum.

Our stay at Akoesticum was pretty special… there’s something about living, eating, sleeping and making music with people that makes each experience like it unique.

The rooms we shared were beautiful, with huge windows which let in perhaps a little too much light in the outer edges of the day as the sun rose at about 5am and set at 10pm. Most of us had no trouble getting to sleep, however, since the intensive rehearsals, tutorials and sectionals in the first few days left us both mentally and physically tired in the best possible way.

To relax you could either spend time in the café area, have a nap in your room upstairs (a convenient one minute from the rehearsal auditorium), go for a walk into the little town of Ede or explore the extensive forest behind the Akoesticum.

Apart from watching out for ticks and dangerous hairy caterpillars (as unlikely as it sounds they’ve become an issue in the Netherlands, infesting forests and even going so far as causing the cancellation of soccer games), a walk through the forest would take you to areas of baby pines, huge towering trees covered in almost fluorescent moss, dappled green canopies , sandy inclines with dry shrubs and small glades of tiny flowers.

View of the front window of a café at the Akoesticum.

The staff at Akoesticum were also consistently helpful and kind, happy to organise washing, haircuts, train tickets or food. Speaking of food, there was of course a large quantity of bread, meat and cheese, but also a salad selection, daily soup, many mains for dinner, a new dessert introduced almost every evening (as well as a welcome cake on our first night and birthday cakes for those who celebrated in Ede) and, most importantly, fresh croissants for breakfast every morning.

Basic needs of food and shelter aside, the rehearsals started on the second day with Daniel Carter, who covered with us the mountain of repertoire before our first rehearsal with Krzysztof Urbański, the conductor for the remainder of tour.

Australian Youth Orchestra rehearse at the Akoesticum.

Aside from rehearsals, we quizzed our tutors about their lives in Europe working as musicians and those who wished played a couple of highly competitive soccer matches organised by Krzysztof while the rest cheered from the sidelines.

As excited to start the tour as we were by the end of our stay at Akoesticum, most of us felt a little sad to leave for obvious reasons.

Akoesticum wasn’t just the placed we rehearsed in, it was where we found a temporary home before the thrill of hopping from concert to concert.