30 June 2015 § Leave a Comment
Now I know this is in no way a beauty blog; however, a recent moisturiser purchase that I made has been so amazing that I felt the need to blog about it. As some of you know, throughout my teen years I struggled with acne-ridden, red, irritated skin. Now I know this isn’t a unique thing to me; however, it has continued into my 20s, causing me an immense amount of irritation at not feeling like I have ‘adult’ skin. When I am stressed out (a good proportion of my life), my cheeks become dry, I break out around my chin and the redness on my skin becomes even more prominent.
Lately, I have made an attempt at really trying to take care of my skin in a gentle, but effective, way. I have tried many different moisturisers lately; however, my recent purchase of the Origins Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Moisturiser has made the most significant difference in my skin from regular morning and night use.
The moisturiser itself is a thick, lightly scented gel that sinks easily into the skin. Despite having quite sensitive skin, I have yet to experience a breakout since beginning with it and I have been significantly stressed out, tired, and eating terribly these past few weeks. The cream’s active ingredients include Lychee and Watermelon enzymes and it has a similar light but delicious scent.
Although the price is slightly steep over here (at £34.50, although I bought it on sale for a bit less), I have found it completely worth the price tag. I need almost nothing to keep my skin hydrated in the morning and at night, and it can serve both as a day cream and an overnight treatment. It sits well under makeup and has completely stopped the flaking that I had on my cheeks previously.
While this is only my second Origins purchase (the first being the Ginzing eye cream), I can certainly see myself purchasing and trying more of their products if they’re as effective as this one. Any recommendations? I am definitely looking eagerly at their masks which look fantastic.
You can purchase the Origins Make a Difference moisturiser at Boots and other retailers.
20 January 2015 § Leave a Comment
So it’s only 20 days into the new year and I’ve already had a whirlwind of a time. Let’s recount, shall we? First, the hand saga. Which of course, due to my inactivity here was never blogged about; however, it turns out that we are not invincible. A trip to Loyola Medical (amazing, btw) during my christmas break revealed I managed to get De Quervain’s in my left thumb, from viola of course. After a lack of resolution after total immobility for 2 weeks, I ended up getting a steroid injection into my wrist. Not something I took lightly but completely worth it. The result is pain-free viola playing, knitting and a generally more happy me. And actually, fixing my wrist was new year’s resolution no. 1! Achievement.
What else? Well today at the RCM we had a very interesting workshop with the LPO music director Vladimir Jurowski. What a whirlwind, in the shortest College project ever, 3 hours yesterday and another 2 today before a short performance. Intense but worth it. Maybe just a transition stage from some’s perspective, but an invigorating performance nonetheless!
Between that and playing with my quartet + a fabulous clarinettist at a memorial for the late Charles Mackerras’ late wife Judy, it’s been insane. But it is always wonderful to receive praise for your chamber group from seasoned musicians and those who knew many greats of the past generation. Cannot wait to get back to working with them, hopefully some more Mozart in the future!
As for my other, hopefully realistic new year’s goals… Learn German! (so I need to get back to working on that immediately after this), and read 20 books this year. I managed 18 last year and I’m already on a roll, having knocked out 2.5 already in the past 20 days. The PC Grant books by Ben Aaronovitch are particularly good. Can’t wait to continue reading after my German reviewing! As for other things… I’m hoping to start a new research project soon. Don’t want to say what yet, but after having such a wonderful (yes, wonderful) time on my dissertation last year I am itching to get back into the British Library. We’ll see what that holds! No resolutions there, want to keep things real.
Well I hope everyone is having as great a new year as I am. I believe 2015 has good things in store for us all!
18 May 2014 § Leave a Comment
Sometimes you need colour in your life. For the past few months I have had a lot of stressors: figuring out the summer, writing my dissertation, writing 4 other essays that needed to be of a similar quality, it’s been insane. This term alone I have written about 26k words. That’s a lot. And that’s not counting all the crap I cut out! So sometimes you need colour and lightness. I definitely bought tulips the other day to lighten up my room. I have an orchid that is blooming spectacularly, but after having it for 3 years you need a bit of a change, right?! Yes.
I recently found some photos back from the beginning of my first year here. I had started a time lapse of London project. The Shard hadn’t even been finished! So with that, I think I’ll begin again. It seems worthwhile and the results so far have been great. Can’t wait to share it with you all!
23 January 2014 § Leave a Comment
You’ll notice a few things are new around here. For one, I’ve migrated to a subdomain for my blog. This is mainly because at some point in the near future (let’s say Easter, because I’m being realistic) I’m planning on turning my main site into a more professional portfolio. Things are progressing musically for me, and I want to reflect that! I’ve also changed the design of the blog to make it cleaner and more minimal. It’s how I’m enjoying the world right now, so I wanted to reflect that on this space!
In other news, I found out a little over a month ago that I’m headed to the Royal College of Music for my Master’s in Performance! It’s a 2 year programme, and hopefully at the end of it I’ll really have the tools to continue my career successfully. Everything is a little surreal at this point, but I’m just trying to do as much playing as possible right now! I’m only going to be able to do that if I do as much high-quality playing as possible, so that’s basically what’s on my radar at the moment.
I still have my degree to finish off, which at the moment is slightly overwhelming. I don’t even want to confront my dissertation although I know I must at some point. I need to do some major thinking about it over the weekend!! But right now I’m just enjoying a lovely, quiet evening, aka. something that has been much needed for the past few weeks and for my future. I’m headed to Slovenia in a little over a week for an orchestral project, so I hope when that’s all said and done I can update you all on it! From what I’ve heard, the country is amazing, so I’m really excited to get to spend a week there. I know I’ll be behind (still!) on my coursework, but it was such a fabulous opportunity I couldn’t pass it up.
I’ve also been knitting. Kate Davies’ Port o’ Leith is my current project, among others. I recently finished Line Break, which is the greatest and I will definitely be making another. Hopefully I’ll have some good photos of both of them in the near future, but my Port o’ Leith is looking like the above photo. I’m simply too lazy this evening to get out my good camera, so my phone will have to suffice for now! The wool is the same as called for in the pattern, Jamieson and Smith’s Shetland Chunky. I cannot recommend it enough! I rarely use the wool called for in the patterns but this is definitely worth the slightly higher cost. It is gorgeous. And I cannot wait to wear this wooly jumper!
I hope where ever you are it is peaceful and wonderful. I will try my best to update soon about my travels as I’m quite excited!
16 November 2013 § Leave a Comment
If only my weekend could be so! I’m currently deep into working with the London Mahler Orchestra. We’re performing Mahler 10 tomorrow. Mixed feelings on the completion and piece in general but that’s too long for here. Plus it sounds like a lot of uncited garbage in my head. It’ll have to wait for a later date, or never!
However! I have been digging into Debussy as well recently, including writing about him in relation to futurism. His spoken beliefs versus compositional techniques are quite interesting and while I won’t write my essay out here (besides being unfinished, a non-musicologist would find it dull) I found it incredibly interesting how he was inspired by Couperin and Rameau in his last decade. I’ll leave you hear with Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp. I heard it live a couple of years ago with players from the LSO all lead by a favourite conductor of mine, Michael Tilson Thomas. He wasn’t in this number, of course, but it had some wonderful players. The recording I’m leaving you below is by the Trio Leandro. I happened upon it quite randomly, but have really enjoyed it.
I’ve also included in this playlist Britten’s Second String Quartet. There are a lot of young-ish London quartets currently performing this work, probably due to the Britten Centenary, and it’s a fantastic one. If you haven’t heard it, or even if you have, give it a listen. The Jupiter SQ are fab.
I hope many are having a more relaxing time than I am. I am looking forward to my months of craziness being over mid-December! But, as a fortune cookie I received at my work this summer told me, the path will be arduous but the result will be amply rewarding. That stays in my viola case. I know it’s just a slip of paper, but it was good advice.
8 November 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about recordings vs. live performances lately. It’s probably due to the fact that I have auditions coming up for Master’s programmes at a number of reputable schools, but I’ve been thinking about the consequences of sending in a recording vs. playing a live audition. One of the schools I’m applying to is too far away for me to go in and play live, so thankfully I have some help and support to send in a good recording. However, how do our expectations compare?
Over the past couple of years I’ve had the privilege of seeing some performers that I have admired over recordings since the point where I started getting serious about music (12? 13?). I’m not going to name players or ensembles as they are well-respected by the public and myself, but I must say, I frequently came away disappointed with what I heard. Not always, but this has happened enough to make me question what my expectations are in a performance.
I know from speaking with other musicians my age and older that the automatic response when looking for performance ideas, interpretations and general knowledge is to go to a recording. Spotify is so handy for giving you a wide variety of possible departures for a piece of music and if none of those are satisfying, there’s always iTunes and Amazon (for the antiquated medium of CDs, of course). When one listens to these recordings there is always an expectation of perfection, vivacity and clear artistic goals. The performer must know exactly what they want to convey as they have many takes (how many depends on budget and time constraints) to show this idea. If a technical mishap occurs, it can be rectified easily with some quick splicing.
I would largely argue that my generation, and probably the one before it as well, seems to come to the concert hall with the expectation of a recording-quality performance that has the same vivacity and technical perfection that your sitting at home can provide. However, as a performing musician, this is almost impossible to make happen. When you’re performing, stuff happens. Your A string might break in the middle of a quartet performance (this happened recently to someone I know) and you have to continue playing. You might be tired and on the second to last stop of a tour. There might have been an argument just before you went on stage. As a musician you can do your best to rectify issues, but ultimately, a live performance is never going to be as perfect as a some splicing and multiple takes, among other things.
Despite its lack of perfection, I think Sousa’s fin de siecle fears of a life without live music are still unfounded even in our technologically filled world. The groups that I find most compelling to hear live record far less and focus on live performance (for a number of reasons). The raw passion that you can hear in a young group (either musicians my age at the university-level or older) is something that you don’t hear as frequently in a well-seasoned quartet. While these ‘legendary’ groups can put out heaps of useful and enjoyable recordings, sometimes they are less enjoyable to hear in concert. Despite this, the amount of knowledge they can provide to a young group of performers is invaluable in continuing our classical tradition. As I focus here on Western Classical Music, I can safely say that our tiny part of the music world would be totally lost without the guru-like relationship we frequently have with our elders.
Although our world may shift ever more rapidly to digital everything, the live performance should never go away. While it may be less compelling and perfect than a recording, it provides extremely valuable information for today’s performers, and of course enjoyment for the public. It simply means that our focus must shift away from expecting a recording in a concert, something that I can easily say is difficult. However, our enjoyment will be greatly increased if our expectations are shifted and we recognise value in both worlds.
24 September 2013 § Leave a Comment
It’s been a while since I posted. I am seriously going to try to be a better blogger. However, I’ve been pretty busy lately with putting together applications for Master’s programmes and general back to uni stuff.
On the plus side, I’ve been working on my Cypress vest by Jared Flood. It’s so simple but so gorgeous. I’ve been knitting it in Cascade 220 Heathers which I (shockingly) hadn’t used before. It’s going to be seriously up there for me now with worsted weight yarns. I began shaping the v-neck yesterday, which has now made the project incapable of being carried around. I have to knit with 2 balls of yarn and since I was pretty unsure of how much I used, I just wound up the last 2 hanks into balls.
The photos don’t really do the colour of the yarn justice. When I’m all finished, I’ll get out my real camera and take some nice photos. My phone is a poor subsitute, but it’s also quick and I am an impatient woman.
Today I’m off to go sign up for the LRAM, which is a sort of teaching certification. I’ve been waiting a while to take it, so I’m very very excited to finally have the opportunity to take it. It’s definitely going to add to my workload, but the payoff in the long term should be huge. My next knitting task at hand? Figure out what to do with one of these beauties (either Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock (Lettuce wrap) , or Madelinetosh Pashmina (Kale)). I did not buy them together, although I must have had health foods on my mind!
Marijke out for now!
30 May 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last time I wrote I was knee-deep in coursework. Although that’s beyond me, I’ve been catching up quickly on my lack of hard practise in the month of April. My neck has been cramping up a bit and my fingers are sore, but it has been completely worth it. I feel like I am truly making progress on the one thing I have stuck with for now over a decade. I never stick with anything that long. I get bored. But viola? There are always new things to learn, new repertoire, old repertoire, new people, old people. It doesn’t get tiring as the music world is constantly shifting.
This is a new thing for me, I suppose. A few weeks ago I was complaining to anyone who would listen that every job I look at doesn’t allow me to play viola at the level I want to. What did my teacher say? ‘Why don’t you want to be a player?’ This is the most logical solution to my problems, but also a difficult one. It had crossed my mind, but having someone else say it, someone who is fantastic at what they (and you) do, that changes things. I’m about to embark on about 3 months of largely unguided practise on new, increasingly difficult repertoire. I will also be balancing this with my duties as a camp counsellor again. You could say this is great. No phone distractions, no facebook! I’ll have plenty of free time to practise, but I don’t know…
In the past my summer projects have gone a bit astray. They haven’t been unsuccessful per say, but life gets in the way. I know I am going to have to structure my time highly this summer in order to achieve anything worthy of getting into a good music college for postgrad by December. This is scary!
I wish I had something more exciting to post, or photos of my exciting life. But honestly, I have just been packing, moving and now camping out in our flat until I go home for about a week. My mind is constantly racing, planning and my fingers itching to practise. I must remind myself I have an intense schedule this weekend. I don’t want to get burnt out too quickly. This itch needs to last until the end of the year…
Hopefully others are feeling motivated and satisfied in their pursuits. Although mine may seem like a solitary one, it’s really not. I need to remind myself that. Life is just too short to not do what you love. Remember that when even your loves seem like labours (as I’m sure I’ll be thinking in late July when all these good feelings have worn off).
26 April 2013 § Leave a Comment
Am I? I’ve just gotten very overwhelmed with life lately. I’ve successfully finished 2 of my coursework projects for this term. Just one more 3000 word essay before exam period begins. I have to survive 2 performance exams and 3 written ones and a few concerts and then I’m back in America for a while! I think I’m making it sound more exciting than it really is.
In an attempt to combat the stress, I’ve been knitting a lot since December. My most recent finished project has been a lovely lace shawl for my mother. I can finally show it to you all here, as she received it! It is the lovely Holbrook Shawl by Dee O’Keefe and is knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply. Wouldn’t recommend the yarn. It’s very splitty so unless you are world’s most careful knitter on super blunt needles (I am neither) don’t buy it.
Despite my minor disagreements with the yarn it was a joy to knit.
The pattern was incredibly well written and I can’t wait to make another one of Dee’s shawls.
I really hope my mom enjoys it.
I’ve now moved onto a few things. I’m making one of Kitman Figuerosa’s Damask shawls, but I was too lazy to get out my camera for that. I’ve taken a quick snap of the rather boring socks I’m knitting. They’re just basic socks in some Regia self-striping yarn. It’s nice to work with. Here we go!
Yes, I do have world’s messiest and tiniest desk. That’s what happens when coursework stripes. Hopefully I’ll be writing in a less stressed out manner when this is all over! I can’t wait to turn in the last essay and move on to exams…
13 February 2013 § 1 Comment
It’s honestly shameful how little I’m on here anymore. To be honest, my life has just been too busy to even think about writing. I’m too consumed with practising, doing coursework, rehearsals, having a social life and fitting in sleeping and eating somewhere in there. I’ve been successful in most of that (next week I’m in a masterclass and I have an audition and draft recital coming up next month…), but certain things have been off the table. Instead of a full blown post, I’m just going to Spotify some music below you should really be listening to. It’s a variety of quartets (which as we all I know is some of my favourite stuff to play), pop music, and jazz. I’m going to avoid descriptions and let the music speak for itself (which is Marijke speak for I really need to go do work). Ready?!