Young violinist Diederik van Wassenaer joined our orchestra eighteen months ago. His grandmother Louise van Wassenaer, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, was so proud that she decided to start coming to our concerts every week and join the Friends of the Residentie Orkest (VVRO).
I speak to the grandson and the grandmother in one of the study rooms of the Residentie Orkest in Amare. Diederik is there studying for a performance later that day. "I now often play classical chamber music with colleagues from Residentie Orkest. With my wife Allie, who is also a violinist, I like to play Bluegrass music, which is what she grew up with." Louise responds, "I love it so much that you do so many different things with the violin. Diederik: "And soon I will come to your house to play Mozart's string quintets; together with my wife Allie, my father, a cousin and an uncle."
Does Louise also play an instrument? "My parents were friends with Alphons Diepenbrock's daughters Joanna and Thea in Amsterdam, where I grew up until 1948. When I was seven, the war had just begun, I was given piano lessons by Thea in the Diepenbrock home. I hated those lessons, but after each lesson she took me to her father's room, and played very beautifully on his grand piano Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte." Diederik commented, "I remember you used to play the piano for us at parties. That was nice!"
After grammar school, Louise went to study history in Leiden. There she met the man she would later marry, Otto van Wassenaer. The marriage took place in 1954. Otto then had to enlist, in the navy in Den Helder, and Louise went with him. They married in 1954, and he became a lawyer at Hoogovens in Wijk aan Zee. "We were given a house there by the factory; that was very special in the time of reconstruction," says Louise. As a lawyer, her husband handled complaints from gardeners and farmers in the nearby area who saw their crops fail due to emissions from the blast furnaces. Around 1958, they moved to The Hague. "For decades we went almost weekly to the string quartet series in Diligentia. The same people kept coming there, and we built up a circle of acquaintances. And since Diederik plays in the Residentie Orkest , I come to listen to all your concerts!"
Diederik's cradle was also in Amsterdam, and, like his grandmother Louise, he attended the Barlaeus Gymnasium there. His father plays the violin and viola, his mother the piano. "My sister played the piano for some time, and my brother the oboe. An uncle plays the cello well, and my wife Allie plays the violin. Playing with family members is very important to me." Diederik's father was his first inspiration in terms of violin playing, but there were more. "As a child, I was given a number of CDs. One of them contains Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto , played by Isaac Stern. Great! There is a rhythmic drive in it that gives it a tremendous energy. Another great inspiration was the CD with Nigel Kennedy playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons; so exciting, so creative."
Eventually Diederik decided he wanted to become a violinist. Nineteen he was when he left for Indiana, United States, to do his bachelor's degree in violin. "I liked it so much there that I stayed for years. I met my wife Allie there. All that time I did a lot of freelance work as a violinist, in orchestras, but also studio work. When I was 25, I thought: what do I want to do next for a career? Finding a job in a good orchestra then became my ambition. We decided to go to the Netherlands, where I started doing my master's degree in violin in Rotterdam, and I started auditioning with orchestras. At the Residentie Orkest I found my place!"
"The first rehearsal was like a warm bath, I felt so much warmth and cordiality, with the musicians, with the staff ... And then Amare, that beautiful hall!"
- Diederik van Wassenaer
From the first rehearsal, Diederik liked our orchestra very much. "It was like a warm bath, I felt so much warmth and cordiality, with the musicians, with the staff... And then Amare, this beautiful hall!"
We talk for some time about the orchestra, about the turbulent times it has gone through. After the major reorganization of 2013, education in the city, into the city, became one of the pillars of its policy, and with success: the orchestra has become firmly embedded in The Hague society. Diederik recognizes that. "In the United States you have that too. Every orchestra I've played in there says to the city they work in, 'This is your orchestra!' Being there for 'the community' is the most important thing there. And the Residentie Orkest does a great job of that in The Hague."
"The Conducting Project was so much fun, all those enthusiastic kids, as well as the happy musicians!"
- Louise van Wassenaer
The VVRO, which Louise recently became a Gold Friend of, also supports many educational projects. She recently experienced the final performance of the annual Conducting Project for elementary school students. "That was so much fun, all those enthusiastic children, as well as the happy musicians!" Diederik adds, "Maybe some of those kids will one day become new colleagues in the orchestra. But in any case, they will all remember this experience with the Residentie Orkest ."