Student orchestra Bragi plays for millions of people: ‘It was a bit nerve wracking’

Just their luck: student orchestra Bragi was putting on a concert at the same time the Dutch team was playing the quarter finals in the World Championship. Surely people would be staying home to watch that instead of them? But then they got a call from tv programme Even tot hier, inviting them to perform in front of millions.

‘For an amateur orchestra and choir, basically your core audience is friends and family’, says Bragi chair Merel Mondria. ‘And our friends and family come to every concert, so it’s very easy for them to think: sorry, we’ll skip this one.’ 

They didn’t expect many people to show up to the St. Joseph Cathedral on Friday, and neither did the producers of the comic tv programme Even tot hier, who wanted to cover their story of disappointment. And then in the style of any feelgood show, they offered them a happy ending: the opportunity to play in front of millions of people on national television.

Good turnout

‘I got the call on Thursday morning. They said they wanted us to come to the studio on Saturday and asked if that was doable. So I was like: Yes! I’m not sure how, but we are going to do it’, says Merel.

Unexpectedly though, the turnout for their concert was quite good, with 250 classical music enthusiasts coming to see them. In fact, it was such a success that the filming crew of Even tot hier had to wait until the event was over, so that they could capture a few shots of an empty church. ‘Obviously it’s a satire show, they have to make everything as extreme as possible, because it works better for the viewers.’

New piece

Nevertheless, they got to make their television debut on Saturday. They’d even had to rehearse a new piece especially, because everything in their concert repertoire was too lengthy. They pulled it off flawlessly, though. 

‘TV is a lot of waiting, and then we were called to get on stage and everything has to be perfect, immediately. So that was a bit nerve wracking, because at the end of the day we are amateurs’, Merel says.

Bragi will be performing live again on 12 February at the Vrijdag venue in Groningen, where they will host a Valentine’s Day event, which besides music will include poetry.



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