It happens sometimes… a day that inexplicably starts in a minor key. No, it was not caused by the weather. It did not rain (usually rain yields a bad mood with me if I have to cycle to work) even though it was quite muggy and unexpectedly hot, almost 20 degrees centigrade! Such a difference, the week before we still had night frost! I was not tired either, I had slept well for a few nights and for a change I had not been in surf mode behind the PC in the middle of the night.
What was the cause? Well, I guess that I felt a bit stressed. The day before I failed to play my competition pieces well, to be fair it was quite unsatisfactory, so I worried a bit about my performance. Today one of my colleagues fell ill behind his desk and had to be taken away to the sick bay (yes, we all grow older). Such an event immediately affects the group atmosphere. Later things appeared not as bad as they seemed to be, the guy had some flu on his organ of balance.
Anyway, on this blue Thursday afternoon I was in the car driving to Nordhorn in Germany with a weird sense of discomfort in my solar plexus. I had left work a little earlier to be in time in Nordhorn and I had picked up some sandwiches at home on the run.
This year spring had started late and hesitantly. You could clearly notice this on the long and dead straight road between Oldenzaal and Denekamp in the eastern part of Holland. There was just a little touch of green on the trees and the leaves had not unfolded yet. The meadows were brown and dry and by the number of tree trunks along the road one could notice that lots of trees had been axed for the Easter bonfires in this district. Along the road I spotted piles of logs that had been removed from the woods. Forest maintenance or budget cuts on maintenance, that nowadays is the cause of the uncontrolled axing of trees and clearing of public gardens in many municipalities.
This year I was on the road at Thursday night rather than at early morning Friday. Cause was a little event that had been added to the three day’s Nordhorn Guitar festival: the welcome party. I wanted to be there, because a warm welcome warms the heart and chases the blue mood. I could definitely use that today!
I went to Nordhorn early, because a festival like this always can use some extra hands. Tonight the first competitors would arrive with their sheet music, so there was work to do behind the show.
I passed the sign of Spargel Arno –Asparagus Arno in English- the well-known asparagus grower near the German border. It is the season for these vegetables indeed!
I sighted the sign Willkommen in Deutschland. The old border-crossing is defunct since the time that the Schengen Treaty became effective, it now only is the stopping place for the customers of an odd cluster of super markets and cigar shops. Just in case that causes you a headache: the old chemist is still there too. Paracetamol it reads on large letters on the sign above his shop window.
I passed the border and made my way into Germany. I can drive this route blindfolded, because all through the year the Kulturhaus NIHZ in Nordhorn is the scene of many concerts, workshops and other events, amongst others the famous Open Guitar Nights. My wife and I like to come there often!
Nordhorn did not change very much this year. The old grounds of Nihues’ textile factories are just as barren as they used to be and the rails around the railway station are rusty. A few goods waggons have been parked on a dead track for years now and I don’t think that they will ever leave there. I passed them by at the regular speed of 50 km/h. I spotted the Heisse Kiste, one of those characteristic German fish and chips stalls where you can buy Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. Just a few hundred meters to go!
I parked my car and got my bag from the back. No, I did not carry a guitar yet. My bag was sufficiently heavy because it contained my contribution to the prize of the amateur competition: two sets of music books that included the full DOS Amigos Homepage collection for solo guitar!
As soon as I arrived in the Mittelstrasse, I spotted a van of Radio Oost (the local radio of the eastern part of Holand) in front of Kulturhaus NIHZ. In the present time media exposure is invaluable, so Bobby Rootveld gave an interview about the festival plus a little demonstration on his antique Stoss guitar from 1819.
The interviewer was a quiet man. He asked to-the-point questions and left sufficient time for a decent answer. That was a relief indeed, because in many interviews you get the notion that answers are not important and are suppressed accordingly on present day radio and TV according to the mechanism: Inter-view? No, My View Only!
Bobby played La ci darem la mano on the antique Stoss, the well-known aria from Don Giovanni by Mozart. Give me your hand it means, a nice metaphor for the meeting of guitarists from many countries that will shake hands at this festival.
At Kulturhaus NIHZ, I had a joyful reunion with my festival friends, they were all there, Bobby Rootveld and Sanna van Elst, Fred and Angie Rootveld, Lyz Day from Switzerland, Henk and Martin Olden, Tommie Ros and a few other people that I know from my visits to Kulturhaus NIHZ.
Seeing them again definitely cheered me up. Rolling up some sleeves did help me too, I carried a large panful of tomato soup for the welcome meal to the dining room. These Estudios de Voluntariado would provide for some nice practice in this weekend.
My mood got an extra boost as a consequence of a remarkable encounter. One of the participants was Nandini Sudhir, a young guitarist that had travelled all the way from India together with her mother. Both recognized me from the DOS Amigos Homepage and were enthusiast about the music and my stories on this site. I was glad to notice that my site obviously is world famous!
My blues were gone, so now I could begin the festival in earnest! I made a good start with soup, a drink and live music in the festival bar!
Since 2011 the Guitar Festival Nordhorn is a yearly event with great interest from inland and abroad, particularly in the guitar competition for the professionals and students. Considering the competition, winning this event is a great performance. Yet the amateurs have not been forgotten, they too have the possibility to contest. The amateur competition gets more participants every year.
The festival has accommodated quite a few greats from the guitar world, amongst them Alberto Mesirca, Denis Azabagic and Roland Dyens.
The festival is a three-day event with competitions, workshops and master classes. The first day is dedicated to master classes and the preliminaries of the competition for professionals and conservatory students. On the second day, we will see master classes, the workshop for stage presentation and the amateur competition. Finally, the third day accommodates master classes, the workshop Theatre Sports for Guitarists and the finals of the professional competition. Obviously, every day has its concerts!
This year the musical team that made this possible consisted of Zoran Dukic, Reinbert Evers, Samuel Klemke, Stefan Grasse, Klaus Renzel, the Real Duo (Luciano Damiani and Michele Libraro) , the Duo Resonances (Frederique Luzy and Pierre Bibault), the Anido Guitar Duo (Annette Kruisbrink and Arlette Ruelens) and of course the Duo NIHZ itself.
These are the people that made the show. Yet behind the show there is a group of people for seemingly ordinary things like manning the bar, selling tickets, food management, transport of participants and all kinds of services. Kulturhaus NIHZ has been tremendously helped by Fred and Angie Rootveld, Sarah Rootveld and Dustin Hall, Martin and Henk Olden, Tommie Ros, Vasko and his girlfriend and many others that cooperated unselfishly. This year I had the opportunity to cooperate behind the show some more and my conclusion out of my own experience is: Chapeau people, well done!