In 1886, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume crafted a masterpiece of a violin in the city of Paris. He must have never envisioned that more than a century later, in the year 2016, one of the finest young violinists in the Netherlands would be playing that same instrument with as much skill as it had been created. Together with Rotterdam Student Orchestra, violinist Elise Besemer of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague awed a full theatre with a set of triumphant Scandinavian pieces.
But before Besemer could even take the stage, the orchestra sparked the night with a Norse composition fit for a smoldering battlefield that blended tremendous fanfare with a melancholic sleeve of notes. From there, Besemer stood beside the composer to deliver delicate high notes that tumbled gracefully towards lower tones alongside the flutes, oboes, drums and other instruments that crowded the stage. Judging from the lengthy standing ovation that ensued the captivating performance, it was clear to see that the audience on hand was delighted.
“I enjoyed myself out there,” Besemer told EM. “I wasn’t feeling nervous. That may be the case in some of the upcoming shows in bigger concert halls, but tonight’s show was just perfect for me.”
The musicians accompanying Besemer also seemed to be enjoying themselves.
“Through her, we all became inspired,” said Adrienne Boonen, one of the orchestra’s trumpeters. “I was especially proud with the first part of the show. It was just so beautiful to look around and see everyone so gripped by the music.”
The orchestra capped off the concert without a soloist, and played the first symphony of Danish composer Niels Wilhelm Gade. This final number featured gentle, mysterious plucks of the strings followed by emphatic bursts from the brass section, all culminating into a broad melody that ended in complete unison. And like any proper band, the orchestra, along with those in gallery, ended the night with more than a few rounds in the Erasmus Pavilion.