MASMAS ++ House Plants
MASMAS is a tiny cafe in the heart of Groningen, located on Oude Kijk in Het Jatstraat (yes, that is a street name!) and is sometimes referred to as "your second living room". Books line the walls, brightly colored pillows decorate every piece of furniture, plants hang from the ceiling, and its customers are so regular and loyal, they might as well be family. I was so lucky to find such a space (my one American friend introduced me, in fact!) as I was on a search to bring the House Plants Concert Series to Groningen.
At the urge of Alex, the aforementioned American friend whose friendship proved to be invaluable during my time there, I approached the barista behind the counter and asked, "do you guys have live music here?" An aside for those of you wondering, the Dutch speak English so well that I never found the need to put my minimal knowledge of Dutch to use. The languages are somewhat similar but the pronunciation.. oof.
Olaf, the barista, responded "We want to, and we have tried, but we just haven't found the right musicians." His response was music to my ears, so to speak, and I catapulted full force into a description of who I am and what I do and how maybe I could be the right musician, etc. etc. And only days later we started planning what would become the MASMAS Chamber Music Night.
Back at Prins Claus Conservatorium, I found support from the teacher of my entrepreneurship class, plus a huge helping hand from my friend Azusa Yamaki, an incredibly sweet woman from Japan whose classical piano playing seriously blew my mind. Azusa and I teamed up to take on the project together, designing fliers, reaching out to musicians, renting gear, writing surveys, and so on. Here are presented several pictures taken by our friend Takashi Nakamura in and around MASMAS.
Fast-forward to the night of the event: dozens of friends and colleagues and strangers packed the tiny cafe. Azusa and I could not have been more pleased with the turnout! My entrepreneurship teacher was there, plus both the head of the Classical Department AND the dean of the entire conservatory!
I am sure MASMAS was quite pleased as well, considering the number of coffees they must have made . The performances were so well received and I was amazed at the level of energy and vulnerability the artists exposed in themselves.
Azusa opened the set with two pieces of Debussy, beautifully warming up the room and the audience with her immaculate playing. Next, I played in a duet with violist Luca Altdorfer, who had craftily arranged viola da gamba pieces by the obscure German composer Carl Friedrich Abel. Thirdly, Bart Bruinsma, who goes by Dieven, played a stirring solo set of original works on vocals and guitar. The Vlantis Ensemble, a raucous jazz quintet, closed out the night with a bang of original and contemporary works nearly blowing the roof off the place. Check out the videos below for a glimpse into everybody's spectacular performances!
I truly adored Groningen and its inhabitants during my short time there, and I feel this event embodied the essence of my experiences in such a kind, welcoming, beautiful city: The performances featured musicians from all around the world, just as I had met people from nearly every continent (sorry Antarctica..); MASMAS was quintessentially Dutch in its ambiance and devotion to coffee, but also comfortingly familiar to the cafes of my hometown; and the success and support from my peers and teachers was reflective of their ongoing devotion to music as a community on a local and global scale.
Thank you to everyone who was there, who played and watched and helped. Shout out to my sister, Anna, for her presence and support during the last minute preparation. And thank you to you for reading this blog. I am excited to see where House Plants takes us next...