Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: part 17


The queue waiting to be allowed to go and collect tickets for fringe concerts with limited seats was asked if there were any people for the summer school or baroque dance workshops. The Early Music Festival has various workshops and workshops on medieval, renaissance, baroque dances are still on my definitely-to-do list. But like the guided tours through the Tivoli-Vredenburg building, these workshops had sold out months earlier.

I spotted The Scroll Ensemble loitering about. Its members were playing during the workshops on Baroque dances. Tuesday, it had been the passepied. Wednesday, it had been the gigue. Today it was the sarabande. Friday it was the allemande. Saturday’s workshop was not about dances; it was a less frivolous workshop: Gregorian chant.

Last year, I had enjoyed their fringe concert and other concerts by its various members enormously. I still had to arrange for harpsichord lessons. Their enthusiasm as well as me talking to a few of the members after one of the Scroll Ensemble’s concerts during last year’s festival, had infected me with the harpsichord-bug, but dire financial straits had intervened.

My neighbour in the queue told me to just go and join the workshop.

I said I had to collect three tickets for the various fringe concerts of the day. Leaving the queue would mean I’d have no access to any of these concerts.

Well – did she wise me up! She told me volunteers  who should not only hand out the program sheets and voting sheets for the Fringe Audience Prize before a fringe concert – any fringe concert – starts, do not check tickets stringently enough. People were getting into limited seating fringe concert venues on tickets from previous days or other fringe concerts, or even without any ticket – thus causing seating problems.

For  when people who have queued for over half an hour – not to mention travelled specifically to Utrecht early in the morning – to obtain tickets for fringe concerts with limited seats available show up to claim a seat … There are either not enough seats, extra chairs have to be crammed into limited space, people are told to sit on the floor, or even excluded from the fringe concert they have tickets for.

My neighbour in the queue had warned volunteers about what was going on. It had helped – at that specific fringe concert.

Later that day, I actually witnessed several such incidents, despite volunteers being informed about what was going on. People without ticket mentioned “I don’t have a ticket, but hey, I can sit down here can’t I – just in case this seat remains empty”. Or people just waving a card and sitting down a few seats from me and then chatting to each other “Oh, I did not want to queue for a ticket for this concert. So I just waved Monday’s ticket”.

There were volunteers trying to prevent this, trying to stand firm. As a cultural event organiser, I know what they are up against: people throwing tantrums, trying to see if bullying or blackmailing helps them get access anyway – despite the max capacity having been reached, the guest list being full, the last ticket having been handed over long ago. While one volunteer remained firm, the person demanding access to the concert without having any ticket threw a tantrum, tried bullying, then claimed she was going to get a coffee at the museum’s café.

Via that route, she showed up at the museum’s small “Orangerie” – without coffee or tea of course. There a few other volunteers “checked” tickets at the door. People without tickets were told they could only attend the fringe concert, after everybody with a ticket had claimed a seat.

But there I was: in front of the till to get my fringe concert tickets for the day. When I asked for the tickets to three fringe concerts I wanted to hear and for which tickets were obligatory, someone else in the queue teased me mercilessly: “You really want to have it all, don’t you?”

Yeah! The festival used to last 2 whole weeks and is now reduced to less than 10 full days. It also only happens once a year.

Mind if I queue and then cram my festival days? If I could split myself up, I would go to all the fringe concerts each day. Unfortunately, I can only manage four fringe concerts in one festival day.

And hey: I’m not the only early-music-festival wannahaveitall. There are plenty other freaks like me. I come across them daily right now … for about 50,000 people now visit this Early Music Festival in Utrecht!

Want to know what the Scroll Ensemble is up to: Scroll Ensemble.
Want to hear and watch a baroque gigue: Gigue.
Or prefer a sarabande: Sarabande

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