The summer periods are the most difficult to get a full house for indoor concerts. The weather makes the decisions for them. It was a cloudy about-to-rain-any-moment day on Sunday 25th July 2010. Maybe people would suspend their plans for the beach and come to our concert in Amsterdam —- that was our hope.
Three days before the concert, I called the owners and producers of Funen Concerts Art Productions. No one had e-mailed or called to reserve. A year ago July half of the composers we had invited for our contemporary music concert were on holiday. This year was no different. July is a difficult month for house concerts, we concluded. [Elderly homes and hospitals are another story.]
Inside the bedroom where we waited for the clock to strike 3 pm, Robert and I looked at each other with similar thoughts. We didn’t hear a stampede of people nor a queue for tickets. We did not tell our friends they had to reserve in advance. It’s that painful “nobody knows” principle of concerts —- the demand is uncertain.
One of our friends had bought train tickets from Nijmegen to come to the concert but discovered there were no trains to Arnhem for the entire month. He had called to tell us that he could not get there on time. Much later, we learned that two other friends living in Amsterdam had started their journey 45 minutes early but could not find the location. We had not heard a yes from anybody else that we had invited.
The thought of walking to an empty room was terrifying.
At 3:10 pm, the co-owner and co-producer Erik tapped on the door to signal us to begin the concert.
To our surprise, the house was full. 22 paid guests, we learned. Excited to see four familiar faces, I welcomed the guests.
“We begin with Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. I was looking for a good arrangement for piano duet for my trip to Helsinki last November. What’s that? Robert asked. It sounded exciting, he said. But I didn’t have an arrangement for piano and guitar. No problem, he said. I’ll have it arranged by the time you come back.”
True to his word, this arrangement was waiting for me. It’s from the third act in Handel’s oratorio Solomon.
After the one-hour concert, we mingled with the guests. One couple said they spotted in the newspaper there was a concert today, so they came from Noordwijk to see us. Another came from the Hague. Not everyone was local, it seemed.
What I love most about house concerts is the opportunity to talk to the guests afterwards. With an intimate crowd such as this, it was possible to chat with nearly everyone. I recognised a couple from last year’s concert. We didn’t have CDs to sell or sign then.