‘I’m so excited, I may or may not be able to sleep tonight!’, jokes MIRA board chair Nynke Ariesen. ‘I am so honored to play for him. I can’t believe I’ll see him and be in the same room as him.’
It’s Tuesday evening and the students of MIRA are rehearsing. It’s their last rehearsal before former Secretary-General of the United Nations and current chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) Ban Ki-moon receives his honorary doctorate from the RUG. Mira is playing Respect from Aretha Franklin and Freedom from George Michael.
The RUG has chosen to recognise Ban Ki-moon’s contributions to peace-keeping and climate change with what will be his nineteenth honorary doctorate.
Ban Ki-moon will only be in Groningen for two hours, so the ceremony has to go perfectly. It’s a once in a life-time opportunity, says violinist Sarah Boshuizen. ‘It’s something I would tell my future children about.’
Violinist Floor Verwijs agrees – she is impressed by the number of honorary doctorates the former secretary general has collected.
During rehearsal the students do their utmost to perfect the piece. MIRA usually plays classical music – but this time, they shift to pop and soul. ‘It’s an entirely different feeling; you get to experience something different but that’s exciting!’, says Nynke.
MIRA members come from various musical backgrounds, but the orchestra has become a kind of home for them. ‘I don’t know how else to explain it – everyone is gezellig!’ says secretary of the board Chris Hartwig.
Everyone has the jitters, but being in a group and supporting each other makes the nervousness easier to cope with. ‘It’s a healthy nervousness’, says violinist Floor Verwijs, ‘you embrace it and it helps you stay alert and focused.’
‘It doesn’t matter if you’re playing for an important political figure or if you’re playing for students’, says Chris. ‘The status of the audience doesn’t change how you feel about the music.’