“I regret that I didn’t start singing earlier”

Their voices couldn’t be more different: one is a high soprano, the other a deep bass. What they have in common is that they will both be singing in the Nederlands Studenten Kamerkoor this year. TU/e students Inge van der Schagt (20) and Daan den Hartog (20) talk about how they combine their busy student life with the NSK, and how they prepare for the first concert on February 15 in Rotterdam.

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photo Bart van Overbeeke

About a hundred students audition for the NSK (Dutch Students Choir) each year. Eventually, forty of them are selected, including these two students at TU/e.

This wasn’t Den Hartog’s first experience with the NSK. “I auditioned last year, but that’s as far as I got unfortunately. I was told I needed to get better control of my voice. I tried again after six months of singing lessons, and this time I got in!”

Den Hartog, who hopes to complete his studies in Mechanical Engineering next year, is on the board of the Vokollage choir, which is part of Quadrivium, the student association for classical music in Eindhoven. Singing wasn’t always his passion, he only came into contact with it when he was sixteen. “I played the piano for five years, but I was never really involved with singing. A friend told me I should try singing in a choir, and now I regret that I didn’t start singing earlier.”

Intense period

Master student Medical Engineering Inge van der Schagt has always sung, but never took lessons. She plays the violin, which makes singing in a choir easier. “Because I could read notes already, I had no problems reading sheet music. That made it easier for me to sing the right pitch. She feels she had luck with the audition. “Knowledge of music was very important to the previous conductor of the NSK, the current conductor is mostly interested in your voice.” It is an intense period for Van der Schagt. She spends her weekends rehearsing with the NSK, during the week she studies for her master Medical Engineering, and she’s also a member of Vokollage.

The three rehearsal weekends are over. There is still one full week of rehearsals ahead starting February 8, and then the moment will arrive: the first concert. They are excited and anxious for the moment when the audience will see, and hear, the result of their hard work. “During the weekends, we started at ten o’clock in the morning and finished at half past nine in the evening. Those were fun, but trying days. We spent the nights at our fellow choir members from Utrecht, but we did go out for a drink in the evening,” Den Hartog says with a smile.

Eindhoven

With such a full schedule in so little time, there was hardly any room for mistakes. They both noticed the enormous difference in standard between the NSK and Quadrivium. There was one work which they both found especially difficult: “The commission piece Sometimes,” they say, practically in unison. “This composition was written especially for this choir by Georgi Sztojanov. The piece has many difficult transitions,” says Den Hartog.

They look forward to the concert in Eindhoven on February 17. “Then we can show the members of Quadrivium why were rarely present during the last two months,” Den Hartog says jokingly. “We really like the fact that we get to perform in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, it’s quite something to stand on that stage,” Van der Schagt adds.

After nine concerts around the entire country, they are going to enjoy a moments rest. “What I will take away from this experience more than anything else, is focus. I’ve really learned how important it is to focus during rehearsals. I now always write down what the conductor says, I didn’t do that in the past,” says Van der Schagt. The final concert will take place on March 3 in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, after which Van der Schagt and Den Hartog can be heard in the choir of Quadrivium again.

The NSK will perform on February 17, at 15:00 hrs in the Remonstrantse Kerk in Eindhoven. Cursor may give away two tickets for this concert. You can sign up till February 11. Tell us who you want to bring along, and why at: Cursor@tue.nl.

You can buy tickets here.

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