Every two years, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam hosts the Open Recorder Days Amsterdam, and becomes a hotbed of recorder activity for four days in October.
Concerts, competitions, instrument displays, masterclasses and teacher seminars attract recorder players of all ages and experience from around the world.
I was privileged to be invited to present a session at the ORDA teacher’s conference in 2019. The conference theme was Teaching Improvisation. There was a wide range of approaches to improvisation described by teachers from Canada, Brazil, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, and the Netherlands. My Suzuki colleague, Renata Pereira from Brazil, and I both demonstrated an aural approach to improvisation, with the emphasis on creating an environment where students can experiment freely. Many of the teachers from the European conservatories used graphic notation and abstract images to help students break away from the printed page. And of course, there were teachers who used the historical treatises on ornamentation as a stepping stone to improvisation. The ORDA conference has posted video recordings of the presentations on their website.
There were concerts all day – invited artists, Fringe performers, and students performed a wide range of music from medieval to modern. I attended masterclasses in Renaissance divisions with Vincent Parilla, Baroque repertoire with Sébastien Marq, and modern works with Walter van Hauwe. Sébastien Marq was a most animated teacher, and brought wonderful new life to familiar repertoire.
The Suzuki Recorder community was well represented at this event. There were Suzuki students from Brazil performing in the competition and Suzuki teachers from Peru participating in the performances. All the Suzuki Recorder teacher trainers in the world (All 5 of us! One each from Great Britain, Netherlands, Brazil, United States, and Canada) were at ORDA, so we took advantage of this historic moment to have a business meeting, hosted by Dutch teacher trainer Jaap Delver at his lovely home in Breukelen. Jaap arranged for us to take a “field trip” to Utrecht, home of Jacob van Eyck, and Dr. Theimo Wind, the renowned expert on van Eyck, gave us a guided tour of all the van Eyck sites.
I highly recommend that every recorder player should attend ORDA at least once in your life – it is the most inspiring musical event I have ever participated in.