Playing Chamber Music on the Holland America Line @Lincoln Center Stage
The musical adventure of Floor Braam on a cruise ship from Florida to Alaska
In spring 2016, violinist Floor Braam was scrolling through the MusicalChairs website when an interesting advertisement caught her eye: The Lincoln Center Stage, combined out of two leading companies, the Holland America Line and the Lincoln Center, brought together in an exclusive partnership, was looking for musicians.
How Floor managed to get on the boat
“Without a doubt, I sent my CV and video to the RWS Entertainment Group in New York. Soon I was invited to meet them during the audition they organised in Berlin. After a successful first round, in which I played Bach and held a brief conversation with the Director himself, I was placed in an auditor-compiled piano quintet finale for the second round. The camera went on and our interaction during the play and rehearsal of the Brahms piano quintet was observed. I was lucky with my fellow violinist that day, and nothing happens for nothing, a special friendship emerged! I was pleased when I was offered a contract for the period January – May 2017 on the cruise ship “Eurodam”. Departure point: Fort Lauderdale (Florida). End destination: Alaska!”
“Never before had I made a trip or tour that included so many new elements. Out of my comfort zone to the maximum! New colleagues, music styles I was not familiar with, playing an iPad with a pedal, a daily performance, life on a ship and of course all those new destinations! The cruise industry was also an unknown world for me: you work for a big company and the pace is high. There are on average 900 crew members on board, most of them working 7 days a week for a duration of 9 months long. Every week there are 2,000 new passengers on board who expect the best service and quality.
Two weeks before going on board, the quintet met for the first time in New York. I was the only one from Europe, the other 4 graduates of Juilliard, Curtis and Yale, living and working in the USA.”
An intense rehearsal period
“This was the beginning of an intense rehearsal period. We had 14 days to prepare 12 different programs (each of 45 min) that varied from the famous classical works to specially written arrangements for the Lincoln Center Stage. Mostly for piano quintet and alternated with a piano quartet, string quartet, piano trio and various duo combinations.”
Everything reviewed in detail
“At the end of each rehearsal day, we gave a try-out for the RWS Entertainment Group. From the appearances, playing the pieces, oral presentation of the repertoire to the applause. Everything was reviewed in detail and we were provided with feedback. It was nice that the whole process was approached very professionally. They were long and exciting days.”
What is the concept Lincoln Center Stage?
“The Lincoln Center Stage is part of the relatively new “Music Walk” aboard the newer ships. It’s an intimate, stylish stage in the atmosphere of the Lincoln Center in New York with an audience capacity of about 100 people. The acoustics are good, there is a beautiful Steinway and we musicians have our own stage manager. The side of the venue is deliberately kept open so that passengers who walk along are invited to listen. In this way, a very accessible and casual concept has been created, which in practice works very well. We played 3 concerts a day, with between the second and third concerts a longer break to eat something. On the gala evenings, twice a week, we programmed one of the Masterworks; Brahms piano quintet, Schumann or Dvorak piano quintet, with a rather lighter program such as “Bernstein to Buble” or “Piaf to Peanuts”.”
Interaction with the audience
“An important aspect of the Lincoln Center Stage is the interaction with the audience, both during and after the concerts. The microphone changes after every piece of quintet member, and afterwards and in the walkways we noticed that the audience was not only very enthusiastic but also curious about us and the music. In addition, there was the weekly Meet the Artists session, for all their questions and answers.”
Music, Free Time and Nature
“We basically played 3 performances every evening. Sometimes we also played a concert in the afternoon, but basically, we could fill in the hours during the day with rehearsals or free time. A cruise ship almost always travels at night and usually stays between 7 to 15 hours at the port of destination.
I was very lucky with the route at the time of my contract.
The Eurodam sails in the Caribbean in winter and makes the crossing through the Panama Canal to the Pacific at the end of April, then spend the summer season in Alaska via Mexico, California and Canada. The surroundings were incredibly varied. Oceans in all shades of blue, unbelievable white bounty beaches, the rich and mysterious underwater life with gorgeous coral, uninhabited islands, authentic port towns, tropical rainforests, great world cities, UNESCO heritage, icebergs, orcas and majestic glaciers. It was truly a gift every day.”
What has this experience brought you?
- 4 solid and professional fellow musicians
- 260 performed concerts
- Rich musical lessons and experiences
- 4 months long performances
- Lots of diverse and different audiences every week
- Learned how to be flexible to keep the energy exchange between performer and listener as high as possible
- Many compliments like “the concerts are the highlight of our cruise” and “This is food for the soul”
- A once-in-a-lifetime experience
So Floor, what is next?
“With pianist Luis Rabello (Rio de Janeiro) we won the “Fomento Cultural Prize” awarded by the Brazilian Government. We will record our first CD together with music by the Brazilian composer Radames Gnattali for violin and piano. We will record the CD and then go on a tour through Brazil and the Netherlands. Luis and I met in Rotterdam at Codarts where we both obtained our Master. I look forward to this project. It is a challenge to record and play this music that has not been performed before! Truly a dream come true to be able to play it with such a gifted pianist.”
Floor Braam’s site
Should you have any questions send her a message
Interested? Lincoln Center Stage
Read more: Music & Business – How to successfully combine them