It took only one trial rehearsal for the student orchestra to make up its mind. According to Jip Klok, chairperson of the board of Bragi, De Blaeij and the orchestra got on like a house on fire. ‘Alexander is a very upbeat, enthusiastic man who gets along well with the students, so it clicked straight away.’
The conductor has played the violin his entire life and has been the first chair violinist in the Gelderse Orchestra since 2001. The conductor of that orchestra convinced him to take conducting lessons, and De Blaeij made his conducting debut in 2008. His conductorship has now led him to leading the students at Bragi.
According to De Blaeij, conducting a student orchestra is a new experience. ‘Students are so young still. They’re so enthusiastic, and they really want to play. It’s great.’
So what does a conductor do, exactly? ‘A conductor moves air. An orchestra plays, and the conductor leads them. The conductor rehearses with the orchestra to ensure that they play well together and their sound is clear. Because the orchestra is so big, the conductor has to make sure everyone is of one mind.’
After rehearsal in the Oosterkerk, De Blaeij says nights like this leave him ‘exhausted’, but at the same time, they are also energising. ‘It’s addictive. I’ve got so much adrenaline running through my body that I won’t be able to sleep for at least two hours.’
And that is convenient: the conductor travels between Amsterdam and Groningen to attend the rehearsals, so he has quite a drive ahead of him. But not before paying the students a visit in the Kroeg van Klaas. ‘I’m just having a glass of water, though.’
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