Finding your own voice
INTERVIEW - ‘I know it sounds like a terrible cliché, but it’s true – the Academy is the best thing that ever happened to me as a musician.’ Violinist and orchestra member Coraline Groen talks about her experiences as an Academy student.
Together with eight other young, very talented musicians, Coraline got the chance to be part of the Concertgebouworkest for a whole season. She says, ‘It’s such a great all-round programme – we performed in orchestral productions and chamber music projects, and were even given mental coaching and training in audition techniques. Every aspect of the profession is involved.’
During her year at the Academy, the year before she won the prestigious Oskar Back Prize, Coraline signed up for the Concertgebouworkest second violin auditions. And to her great surprise and joy, she won the spot in the orchestra. ‘It’s not that I expected to join the orchestra while learning about audition techniques as an Academy student – I mainly saw it as good practice and an opportunity to use the tools I’d been given.
'Then again, without my Academy experience, it would never have occurred to me that I would be good enough. I would never have signed up to audition. That’s why I think self-confidence is one of the most important things the Academy has given me.’
During my time at the Academy, I learned to use what works as a jumping-off point and to let go of the expectations others have of me.
If everything goes right
‘Basically, I learned to hear my own “voice”. I learned how to find out what it is that I myself want – how I want to play. Take Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto, for example. It’s a piece I’ve played countless times for different teachers with different opinions. To be honest, sometimes it felt like I’d lost my way. Not to mention always focusing on what’s wrong. During my time at the Academy, I learned to use what works as a jumping-off point and to let go of the expectations others have of me.
'If I’m personally convinced of how I want to play, if I apply myself with total concentration, if I feel free to be confident and act, and not be distracted by other thoughts – if everything goes right – I believe the audience will experience that, too. I always see my focus and concentration as a thread travelling from the stage to the listeners, which I gauge in terms of how individual my performance is and how the audience reacts afterwards.’
‘As an Academy student playing in orchestral productions, I also discovered how high the level of the orchestra really is. The Concertgebouworkest always gives a good performance – no matter what the circumstances are or who the conductor is. That’s quite remarkable. On an individual level, the calibre is, of course, very high as well, but we all want to give the very best performance we can together – every single evening.
'I’ve learned that each individual musician actively takes his or her own responsibility to give the most beautiful performance as part of a greater whole. Now that I’m back after a few months’ break between the Academy and my appointment as a member of the orchestra, it feels like coming home. I feel supported, and everyone is so approachable. It’s the best feeling.
‘The Academy enabled me to take the step from student to professional. When I think back to how I started that year in September, and how I got my Academy certificate in June… I really underwent a transformation that year, both as a musician and as a human being.’