Well, what can I say? I love playing the violin since I was a little child. I was seven years old when I started to play the violin. Not only that, but I heard my sister playing the violin, and I wanted to do that too.
Before I started to play the violin, I played the cello. I didn't want to go to cello lessons; I laid down on the ground while traveling to the cello lesson. I always told my teacher how she needs to play the cello. Furthermore, I was a rebellious child.
I remember well what my first violin lesson was. I got a teacher, Arjen Beintema - who was the assistant of great legendary violinist Philippe Hirschhorn (winner of the Elizabeth Competition). He was a very sweet teacher, but so strict. I needed a strict teacher, I guess.
My teacher, we were at the attic of a couple who worked during the day - which was agreed on with the local music school I was with. Standing there, it was a little bit dark. My violin teacher asked me to name the strings, and then to bow the strings.
I have seen my sister playing the violin and practicing for her violin lessons, but I thought I wasn't able to play the violin. It was the opposite. I had apparently the talent. I went to some violin lessons with my sister and her teacher gave me a violin made of craft paper and some kitchen tools to be the violin bow. I had a great attitude her teacher told my parent.
In 1998, I played in my first youth orchestra. In this same youth orchestra, my sister had played in as well. She quit that orchestra and after that summer, I kind of replaced her.
I very well remember my audition. I auditioned one of Vivaldi's violin concertos. I just had one or two years of violin lessons, but I screwed up the audition, I felt. I had to go out of the room after the audition, and the conductor called me inside the room again. I felt I didn't do well.
The conductor said: "Your audition wasn't the best, you have to work on a few things, but you are hired as a member of the orchestra, because I know your sister did well and I expect it from you too." I thought: 'Wow, is that the reputation we have as a family?' He put me on very high standards and I didn't feel that way. It was kind of pressure, but I did my best.
Later, when I played with the first violin sections a few years later, we had a concert rehearsal for the audience - in the grand hall of the Conservatory of Utrecht, The Netherlands. The whole first violin section didn't do what the conductor asked for. Only one person. That was me. I was flabbergasted at that time. "Agnes, do you want to play for us alone, please?" Everyone stared at me, of course, but why me? When I gladly played, he said: "That is how you have to play this passage, with fierce and not to be afraid. You did very well, Agnes. Now can everyone just play like her?" I blushed.
During the years, I have played in a youth orchestra in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. We toured through Italy. I felt that I made progress in playing with other fellow musicians. It was a very amazing group with talented musicians whom a few became professional musicians (I know one is a soloist and one is an orchestra player).
One year later, in 2004, I did audition for the Youth Orchestra of The Netherlands. It was the bomb if you played in this orchestra. This orchestra is the best of all youth orchestras in The Netherlands, and if you were one of them, you made it as an amateur musician. Some of them became professional musicians. I loved this orchestra very much, just because of their spirit and their professionalism. We played in such great venues through The Netherlands and abroad. I went on tour with them to Germany.
Now I am playing in a good amateur orchestra in Utrecht. Unfortunately due to COVID, I could play with them once this year. That was a good experience for a very long time.