On 3rd July, I received a one line e-mail from a concert producer in Texas:
When Netherlands beat Brazil, my Finnish pianist friend in Paris congratulated me in a text message (on mobile phone).
After Holland beat Uruguay, I got an e-mail from a Singaporean friend recalling her trip to Utrecht 4 years ago, the previous World Cup.
Today I opened an e-mail from a young Californian congratulating the Dutch on getting into the finals of the World Cup.
Everyone is wearing orange in this period of orange fever. The only other time orange is worn widespread across the country is on Queen’s Birthday, the national public holiday that falls on 30th April every year. Human beings are social animals who like to herd. There’s a sense of belonging when everyone is wearing the same colour. This reminds me of a house concert in London in which everyone wore purple, removing the usual demarcation between performers and listeners.
As orange is my favourite colour, I fit right in. I have been wearing orange long before I ever set foot in the Netherlands. Not that I am pro-Dutch, I simply feel good wearing my Kenyan orange T-shirt and shorts in orange crocs.
How are music and sports related? Many have compared the music business to that of sports. Only a few winners get to the top and reap most of the rewards. The rest scrape along at the bottom, making a living not entirely in performance. On the consumption side, Michael Hinz argues that music goes deeper than sports, that’s why we still play and listen to music of dead composers.
The way you watch a soccer game matters as much as the way you experience live concerts. Last Saturday I sat on a comfortable sofa at a house warming party. The English astrophysicist next to me explained the rudiments of soccer as I watched Spain and Paraguay. It was a comfortable feeling to sit among friends with cold Pimms and beer after a barbecue. The situation was entirely different a few days later when I tried to squeeze into a busy pub packed with orange-clad fans back-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder rallying for Holland to beat Uruguay. I had a side view of the big screen in a room full of strangers. I left during half-time.
I’m sure those football fans sitting in the outdoor stadiums in South Africa experience the World Cup totally differently from those of us who watch the games on television at home or at the pub.
I recognised the differences when I compared the rehearsal of the Baroque orchestra of the Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht at the Utrecht Conservatory vs the outdoor concert the next day in the Kade Concert. Rehearsal or not, Handel’s Water Music when heard in a concert hall was authentic and incredibly beautiful compared to the amplified live outdoor performance on the canals. I was only one of three, maximum five people, in the concert hall who were lucky enough to either know about the afternoon rehearsal or stumbled upon it by accident. All three double doors were open to let the breeze pass through the 200-seat capacity concert hall. Compare this with the 10,000 who watched the same orchestra on Cultural Sunday the next day, I couldn’t say I felt the same magic. In fact, the outdoor smoking and chit chat annoyed me to no end.
Personally I think sports and music are compatible and complementary. I exercise to stay fit and focussed for my music. But some parents feel they have to choose between after school sports and music lessons for their children. It’s not uncommon for Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers to get disappointed when a student gives up guitar lessons for soccer practice.