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Debut with the CvA Symphony Orchestra 🎷😁

What a journey it has been! My feelings are still all over the place from the wonderful experience I had making my debut as a soloist, playing Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto conducted by the amazing Karel Deseure and the CvA Symphony Orchestra!



©Parcifal Werkman


Ever since I started playing the saxophone back in 2012, I knew this instrument would be the perfect way to express myself. Until then, I had always struggled to find the right instrument, but one thing was clear: I wanted to be a classical musician.


As a classical saxophonist, these opportunities don’t come very often. In the classical music field, there is still some development needed to program more saxophone concertos during festivals and in bigger concert hall productions. Sometimes it's due to the repertoire, which tends to be more contemporary, but other times it's because many people haven't yet experienced how good classical saxophone can sound!



The Audition Process


Back in November 2023, I participated in an audition within my saxophone class at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Months of preparation and, to be honest, a lot of insecurities on my part.


After much consideration, I had just changed my alto saxophone to a beautiful Buffet Crampon S1 Silver from the 70s. Having performed on a Selmer Series II for around 10 years, you can imagine the adjustment process: a totally new voicing, mechanics, and tuning!!!!!!! 😱

Despite having doubts about my own playing, I tried to give it my all so that I could have a very important and valuable learning experience with this "new" instrument.


After the audition, I remember feeling very happy. I managed to accomplish my "mission" on stage and express my ideas while playing this concerto. Later that day, I found out that I had won the position, and naturally, I felt a lot of joy and pride for my hard work, considering that I had never believed I could be chosen.


You should know that the level within the Saxophone Class in Amsterdam is extremely high! All my colleagues are very talented musicians and artists. I had the chance to listen to most of them during our weekly group lessons and I was inspired by their playing. This made it a very difficult decision for the jury during the audition.


The Preparation


A couple of months before the debut, I started practicing the concerto again and working on it. Your own practice and development for a beautiful but also pressuring moment like this are extremely important.


Day by day, I worked on details, ideas, sound colors, mastering the technique needed for it, and building endurance for the performance. This last part is very relevant for this concerto. Sometimes I believe Glazunov forgot that he wrote this concerto for a wind instrument, and its musical phrases are so long that you need to carefully manage your breath.


One week before the performances, we started rehearsing with the orchestra, and being embraced by all these people and energy was a wonderful sensation.




The Debut at the Stadsgehoorzaal in Leiden


Imagine days, months, years of preparation all culminating in 15 minutes of music.

It’s kind of pressure, isn’t it?

Your brain easily starts to think of everything you would like to control and you get slightly anxious but also definitely excited. I reminded myself why I enjoy playing saxophone and why exactly on an occasion like this one. My key words for this experience were:


"ENJOY TIME"


Playing any concert is a moment of enjoyment for us as musicians and for the public. And I believe that this perspective helped me a lot in the mindset I needed to have to prepare myself for something like this.

I reflected a lot on the psychological aspect behind playing as a soloist with an orchestra and "delivering" in moments of high pressure. The thing is: when you're on stage, embraced and supported by this huge string orchestra and sharing all of this with a wonderful audience, then all the anxiety flies away and transforms into excitement! That’s what happened in Leiden!






Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ 


If there is a place where in the past years I’ve definitely been a lot that’s this one. Probably it is my favourite concert hall in Amsterdam! 


So yeah… I had to play there! So cool, no?


Strangely enough I was not nervous. I was really looking forward to get on the stage and to perform this beautiful lyrical concerto. And it went in this way! 

I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed every note of it. The audience was very familiar also considering that many friends were there supporting like a fan club. That was very precious to me!



Being a musician is something really precious and special. Being on a stage is very powerful and vulnerable. It’s all about the joy and the passion that brings us a bit closer every time!


Yours truly,

Ile🦋



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