by Lea Bonasera
— Every Tuesday at 7 pm, Clara Frick cycles out of the dorms with a large dark-blue case on her back. She feels the case get heavier until she arrives at the cultural centre CREA where she sits down in the half circle of chairs and prepares her violin for a three-hour-long orchestra practice.
Clara is a second-year Science major at AUC focusing on the pre-med track. She plays violin in the CREA Orkest, a student orchestra in Amsterdam, where she started playing one year ago.
The 19-year old has big plans for this summer. Clara is going on her first tour with the orchestra, where she will be playing three concerts in Southern Germany and Bologna. Although the tour is a biannual event organised by the CREA Orkest, this year it is going to be even more exciting, as Amsterdam`s student choir (SKA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary and joins the orchestra for the first time.
In addition to this, Clara will play several concerts for the choir’s anniversary in the Netherlands. One of them will take place at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the biggest music hall in Holland.
When asked how she keeps up with both the orchestra and her studies, Clara says, “Sometimes it is really a lot. But playing the violin is also de-stressing and takes you somewhere else. It is a great study break.”
Clara puts a lot of effort into getting high grades in her eleven science courses because she wants to study medicine after AUC. She did an internship at a hospital in Berlin last summer and dreams of opening up her own doctor`s office.
Clara admits that since coming to AUC it has been a challenge to fit in the practice time. “I practice three to four times a week for half an hour but I should manage to do it every day.”
Her friend, Layla Gegout, a second-year Social Science major, knows that Clara is very passionate about playing the violin – sometimes too passionate. “I barely saw Clara the last weeks because she was so hard-working.” According to Layla, Clara`s standard excuse for when her friends go out is “Sorry, I cannot go, I have orchestra.”
Despite these challenges, quitting violin is not an option for Clara. What she loves most about playing the instrument is that she can express emotions and play with other musicians. “Orchestras are so much fun. When all instruments play a complex piece and finally come together, there is such a unified energy. It´s my personal highlight,” Clara says.
Unlike many musicians, Clara’s parents aren’t musical. However, this did not stop her from attending various music schools since the age of eight. “Everything combined well and I learned different things at different schools. They added up to what I am now,” Clara says.
At the prestigious Jacobs School of Music in Indiana, where Clara lived for five years, the instructors had a very intense focus on technique. Once returning to her home country Germany, she encountered a different teaching approach and was playing complicated pieces in a very short amount of time.
When Clara was younger, she even thought about making a living out of playing the violin. However, being a violinist is a tough business where only the best succeed, as Clara quickly noticed.
“Making a professional career out of it would ruin my enthusiasm and the way I enjoy playing the violin. I don`t want to compare myself to others”.
Lisa van Holsteijn, second-year Social Science student at AUC who also plays the violin in the CREA Orkesta, agrees with Clara. “Playing violin is very competitive,” Lisa says. “Also, the playing itself can be very frustrating and difficult. If your finger is just in a slightly wrong position you hear it immediately.”
Aside from playing the violin, Clara likes to go outside, especially when it is sunny. She can be found in Flevopark or any other park in Amsterdam. However, she is never seen outside with the violin, as her friend Layla explains; “Although Clara plays at the biggest concerts and cannot stop talking about music for hours, she is too modest to play for us privately”. The only way to hear her playing is at performances or by following the girl with the dark-blue case to the rehearsal room on Tuesday evenings.