While sauntering from one venue and concert to the next one, I spotted a familiar face. No surprise if you frequent this festival. The Scroll Ensemble has been part of the fringe a while now. They also play during the Early Music Festival’s dance workshops.
As usual these workshops organised by Rachel Farr where the Scroll Ensemble plays the dances are sold out months in advance. By now, I have given up on ever learning Renaissance dances. These workshops are simply too popular.
But I was sauntering to a fringe concert by way of the small alley in front of the Dom tower. As described in previous posts, this tower is one of the highest Gothic church towers in the Netherlands. It is possible to walk – or cycle – underneath it The church tower stands apart from its church.
There now lies a large square and broad street between tower and church. Reasons are medieval architecture (or lack of architectural knowledge) and the country’s notorious bad weather. During a very bad storm, several centuries ago, the middle section of Utrecht’s Dom crashed down, never to be rebuilt.
You can trace the building in the pavement between tower and what was left of the church. No, it is not the line in the pavement from which vapour occasionally erupts. This traces the old Roman Castellum wall. The black cobbles between Dom and church show where the rest of the church walls and pillars once stood. If I stand in the middle of a black circle which now replaces the long gone pillar, I fit into the circle easily and there is still space left around me. Yet of the enormous pillars, nothing is left: a sobering thought.
Anyway: along the small street in front (or behind) the Dom Tower are Flora’s Hof, a peaceful small public garden where the concerts from the tower can be heard. The small street has a good book shop, a kind of brasserie-café, a Greek restaurant and a series of tiny eating holes just big enough to hold a till, kitchen and one or two customers at a time.
Dimitri’s or the Small Greek (Kleine Griek) used to have camel saddles as seats scattered along the pavement for customers (a mix of not that rich public and very poor musicians). The camel saddles have long disappeared and prices have rocketed, but some members of the public and musicians can still afford a Pita Haloumi or other tasty dish from the limited menu.
So I spotted one of the Scroll Ensemble’s members getting out of the Small Greek, with instrument case strapped to the back while tucking into a generous helping of grilled vegetables. I hurried off underneath the Dom Tower and veered right. The Scroll Ensemble’s representative headed around the tower, then across the square.
After the last fringe concert of the day, I sauntered to my favourite “watering hole” in the area: Carla’s Conditorie. That very morning, I had found out in time my watch was running over 30 minutes late. Fortunately, I was able to cancel my coffee at Karla’s and be in time of the first fringe concert. Now I was in dire need of a Jitterbug cookie and coffee.
Whom should I pass but the very same musician of the Scroll Ensemble, tucking into what must have been some deli, wrap, slice of cake or cookie from Carla’s. Carla’s and the Greek are within walking distance of each other, the Greek being in front of the Dom tower and Carla’s offering a view of the back of the Dom church. I settled on Carla’s terrace with a nice few of gargoyles.
I will undoubtedly spot the Scroll Ensemble’s members now and again during the remainder of the festival. But I am already sorely upset. I will miss their fabulous fringe concert this year. Drat, drat, drat!
Their concert takes place on a day I have other cultural commitments. Remembering last year’s fun and me and many in the audience actually having tears streaming down our faces from laughing so much, it was upsetting to realise I will miss another such performance.
But perhaps you can attend? If you have been at one of their previous events, you know what these musicians are capable of. This year, their concert may be less hilarious. For a start, they are going to improvise over Back and Pachelbel. They will also be at the Pieterskerk, which is umpteen times bigger than last year’s venue. So I suspect they are unable to put on a caper like last year’s, but then: they can be serious too. So feel free to take my place at one of the last (fabulous) fringe concerts of the Early Music Festival 2016.
The Scroll Ensemble performs Sunday 4th of September at the Pieterskerk at 15:30 and there is no need to collect free tickets for this fabulous fringe concert.