Two Musical Weekends

Busy days busy days! Work is mental, the summer is starting so suddenly there are a-thousand-and-one things to do after work, and I’m still trying to go to the gym as often as possible. And I must say, it’s been a good last few weeks.

I’ve been wanting to try some new things, mostly, I’ve been wanting to get back in to culture stuff. Music, theatre, opera, and all that jazz. But Leuven isn’t really the perfect spot to do so.

For Jazz, there is a free concert every Sunday evening in the Stuk Cafe. At 9pm. I’m sorry, but Sunday evening at 9, I’m sat on  the couch in my jammies. There are two cafes that do the occasional concert. The Bebop (which is a really fun place to have a drink and play boardgames with friends too, since it’s generally nice and quiet) and the Blauwe Kater. In both, I’ve never been to a gig. Generally because it just didn’t fit into the calendar, or within our budget. The Stuk cultural centre also organises a fair bit of live music, but I never know any of the bands on and it’s kinda hard to decide to go see something if you have no idea if you’re gonna like it.

For theatre, I gave up on Leuven a long time ago. I spent two years studying theatre in Antwerp when I was still in  secondary school, and the theatre companies there, like Olympique Dramatique, are absolutely amazing. In Brussels, the KVS gives you theatre of the highest quality. The plays give you food to think, and whether they are repertoire or newly written, they are staged marvelously. In Leuven, we don’t get the big companies. Same for opera, because we simply don’t have an opera house. And also, that stuff is pricey!

So when there’s an amateur music company in town that offers cheap tickets for their yearly concert, I happily oblige. First, we went to the university alumni orchestra‘s yearly event. They played three pieces: the opening of Verdi’s Nabucco, then The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, to finish with the 8th symphony of Dvořák. All very different kind of music, especially the Chinese middle part, but absolutely glorious to listen to. Here and there you could hear it was an amateur orchestra, mostly since some of the copper instruments (I apologise for my lack of decent music terminology, I have always enjoyed music stuff in Belgium so I don’t know the words for all the instruments and such) weren’t on top of it. But I tried not to focus on that and just enjoyed the music. It worked. I didn’t realise how much I miss a good classical concert until I experienced this one. Ah, what a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening.

Last weekend then, we went to a choir thingy. Again, an amateur company. If I would’ve googled the thing properly, I don’t think we would’ve gone. It turned out to be a church choir. But the tickets were cheap and the first half of the concert was great, so a fun evening nevertheless. The choir teamed up with a jazz big band to play Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert, a collection of jazzy church songs. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the place were a mess, and since we were sat at the side, it just didn’t sound as you would want it. Also, I didn’t particularly like the sound of the choir, and the boyfriend (being an established atheist) wasn’t too fond of all the Praise Gods. But the first half of the concert was just the big band, and that was good fun. Very cheerful. I do wish I could’ve had a little dance 😉

I hope that’s not it for our cultural events of the year. It was truly wonderful to try some new things. So far, we have two more events lined up for summer. At the end of the month we are going to watch Nina Conti perform in Brussels. She is a British comedian / ventriloquist. When the boyfriend told me about her, I have to say I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea, it sounded a bit childish / boring. But after watching a few youtube clips, I couldn’t wait to book our tickets. We’ll be sitting on the third row, I do hope she doesn’t pick us out of the audience! And not to forget, probably my favourite event of the year (nerd alert): we’re going to the Harry Potter exhibition in Brussels this summer 😀

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New Year’s Resolution Update 1 – Guitar

So far I’ve been doing quite well for my New Year’s resolution. I can’t say it’s been perfect, but then again New Year’s resolutions are mostly known for failing them, so I’m quite happy with myself. To refresh your memories: I want to spend less time watching shows and playing games on my computer, and therefore more time on other stuff that I lost touch with. So I set myself the rule to not switch on my computer for these purposeless purposes before 8.30pm. I know that’s still a lot of time left for crappy shows, but I have to start somewhere.

And this has been a decent start. Although I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve spent so much time on wondering what to do with my time. I’m just sort of walking about, very close to giving in. I have given in a few times, but at least as often I actually came up with something to do. Like Sunday for example, I decided to go walk in my new runners and discover a few more of fun paths around our home. I did. And I discovered there was a lot of mud. So consider my shoes mudded in.

Today, I played guitar! I always forget about my guitar, even though it’s standing right in our living room. I have this Spotify playlist I keep adding songs to that have nice guitar parts, hoping to one day play them. I am so out of practice, so even when I google the chords or tabs or try to jot down some notes, it all feels very foreign. But hopefully I can start playing regularly again and I’ll be back to normal in no time?

Anyways, I just wanted to share one of the songs with you. It’s got such a nice swing to it. And then I literally mean swing, the swinging my hand does when the strumming comes on. I have never been a very good guitar player, no impressive soloing and camp fire moments for me. But I do like a good jam. For me, that means easy chords, a bit of picking and a bit of strumming. And i even like it quite repetitive so I can lose yourself in the swing. Here it is, enjoy!

Break Free, dream version – Sweetfire