Rem Leach: A Grand Premiere…Sorta?

Hello from our hotel and immediately after a very well-earned shower! With inspired hearts among both orchestra and audience members, this blog wraps up the day of our first concert since the send-off all the way back in Wisconsin! Not only did we play our wonderfully fun and flashy repertoire for a spectacular audience, but we also started the day with activities throughout Antwerp, Belgium.

The city of Antwerp has been my most adored spot by far, and I’ll have to put in some effort to enjoy somewhere else more. We arrived with an astoundingly beautiful cathedral in the distance, shrouded by sleek and modern structures that seemed to go surprisingly well with the historical buildings. I soon realized that Antwerp is an aesthetic masterpiece of a location and that the pairing of conventional modern twists on admirable, beautiful history is just a delight to be standing amongst. We took a guided tour throughout the city, seeing a macabre statue that depicted legendary origins of the town’s name, a 123 meter (403.54 ft.) tower on the aforementioned cathedral, and some beautiful statues and stone arches along the whole way. Later, we broke off into our own groups for lunch and shopping where my folks got our first waffles and rounds of chocolate.

After regrouping, we headed back to the square before the cathedral and left for Queen Elizabeth Hall, where our technical second concert of the tour would be played. We had a quick rehearsal, a buffet upstairs in the venue, and after the most chaotic group photo I’ve ever been a part of, spanning three flights of stairs, we were ready to perform.

As far as I could tell, which I believe should have been easy, the audience was enamored with us and our performance as the first American youth orchestra to have played in that hall. The acoustics were amazing, we were about three-quarters full with two balcony levels and seating to the side of the orchestra, and everything about the experience was thrilling. During our first energetic encore, the audience clapped in rhythm. During our second, they did some more of the same. And by the end of Mr. Simmons’ bows, they were giving a pleading, excited clap in unison for a third encore! Sadly, we didn’t have any other music to play for the night and he had to deny their request with a playful shrug. It was possibly the best concert I have ever played, and I can’t wait for the next two that are in equally if not even more spectacular venues.

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time…

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