Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014 part 26

Once I finally reached the entrance to the small, dreadfully uninspiring Mirliton Theatre (see part 25), there were three or four volunteers chatting amiable with each other. I mentioned someone ought to stand in the stairwell to direct people to the right floor and into the right corridor. Nobody bothered to listen to me.

I was handed the program sheet. But at fringe concerts that is not enough. So I checked if the voting papers for the Audience Fringe Prize had been placed on the chairs. No: nada!

So I dared ask a volunteer where my voting paper was? I was under the impression we the audience of each fringe concert were supposed to vote which fringe concert we liked best and that it mattered greatly to the fringe musicians? (See part 19)

I was told there were no voting papers.


After all I had witnessed and gone through that morning thanks to an extremely sloppy festival organisation: I finally had had it!
The guy who stampeded down the escalators in Tivoli-Vredenburg (see part 24) would have had his apoplexy, heart attack, snuffed it at this very spot.

What the f*ck was going on? In the decades I had visited this festival, I had never come across such daily messes, sloppiness, lapses, bloopers and sheer stupidity!

But now, I also started to wonder. Was voting for the Fringe Audience Prize a farce?

Like more people attending fringe concerts, I had been struck with various things about this “public is voting” system. Small concert venue and the musicians receive only a fraction of votes, compared to the ones performing in bigger concert venues, or even the Tivoli-Vredenburg Grote Zaal with its capacity to hold over 700 people.

So performing in a small concert venue would never ever get musicians selected into the fabulous fringe concerts? And worse: performing in a small venue also meant musicians collected less money from their audience at the end of each concert. Unless someone twiddled with buttons (see part 2) and a whole venue had to be evacuated. Then performing musicians run the risk of not collecting any copper Euro cents at all.

How did it all work out? Especially with bloopers like misdirecting or non-directing part of a fringe concert’s audience (see part 5 and f..i. part 22 and further)? Was the voting at each fringe concert just a flippancy, a farce?
Was it just a sham?

Was the Fringe Audience Prize awarded even before the fringe concerts started?
By now, this would no longer surprise me at all!

Or was I wrong and was this ensemble – les Elisées – deemed so hopeless, they did not even merit a vote?!

I told the volunteer, I had had it with the bloopers and sloppy organisation. I would blog about my experiences and the f*cking mess I and others had had to experience on a daily basis.

The volunteer’s response to my outburst?
A ‘kiss my a**e’ attitude, followed by: “You are a very nasty person, if you post a negative post on your blog”.

Pardon me?

In the end, the voting sheets were handed out. But after this fringe concert, I walked back to Tivoli-Vredenburg and handed in just a few of the large clutch of complaints I had written on cards the organisation provided at information stands.

With at least two major cock-ups a day this year – where in previous years the toll was about one or totally nil during the whole festival – there certainly was space the size of the Tivoli-Vredenburg building for improvements. And I did not even visit this festival on a daily basis.

Little did I know, Friday the 5th of September would become the day, during which I decided to warn friends across the world – many of whom specifically travelled to Utrecht for this festival – it was highly unlikely they would meet me at the 2015 Early Music Festival.



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