GFS Difficult decision
Two Corona years
Two years without Grolloo Flute Sessions
Two years in which we had to miss the enjoyment of young people, guests from all over the world in our village.
Two years where we couldn't enjoy the mix of young people whistling through life.
A week in August in a small village, somewhere in the north of the Netherlands, meant a week of friendships. Friendships between guests and residents, between students and their coaches, between students themselves.
Corona has reached its tipping point. It has left the main stage and has dissapeared into the background. We can meet, see and hear eachother again. Finally that one week in Grolloo. That special week that many young people look forward to. And not only them, but also the coaches, the host families, the inhabitants and the visitors.
It's allowed again!
We live in a strange world. A world that is so different from the music we would like to listen to here. Music unites. Music is international. However, the world isn’t just about music. The sound of the world is regrattably that of flying grenades and missiles. The sound of people crying. People forced to flee. Banned from their homes and out of the country. Millions of people are wandering around our globe. Which composer can capture this song of the world?
Young people, innocent people, want to work on their music, on their instrument. They want to play the flute. Want to become better musicians with help from their coaches. These young musicians want to make the world a little bit better with their sounds.
Young people, except the children from Russia.
Flute Sessions again finally, but with a dark cloud in the air. Because every year a group of young muscicians from Moscow, among others, were present. Children playing phenomenally on their instrument. With a teacher who has such a drive, her enthusiasm was contagious. But unfortunately, it doesn't feel right. Russian people visiting while many Ukrainian refugees found a save haven in the area. On the run from a Russian army, led by someone who doesn't call war a war. A leader who makes his people suffer in the hope of making his dreams come true. And you ask yourself: what do these youngsters have to do with this terrible conflict? Still, it doesn't feel right.
The world is adrift and it’s hard to miss. The Flute Sessions are a bit smaller this time and at the end of the week we haven’t got three, but two beautiful performances These things are a small sacrifice compared to the many sacrifices made elsewhere.
This Grolloo Flute Sessions week is going to be an intense experience. You can listen to beautiful, extra ordinary and sensitive music. We will see enthusiastic young people at playing like they have never played before. They will have the experience of their lives. Grolloo will be submerged by the beautiful sound of the flute. You can hear it throughout the village coming from open windows at their hosts. And with every high note we will hair a dark tone too. A tone that reflects our thoughts of the innocents.
Peace for all
Reporting and experience.....
Such a pity.....
In the DvhN (local newspaper) of 9 August 2022 you can read the headline:
Young Russian musicians banned from Grolloo
The title already sounds very different on the DvhN website:
Ukraine war disrupts flute competition in Grolloo. Organization stands still with Russian participation
Why such a screaming head? Sensation? Who's waiting for that? Not you and certainly not those who fight hard to create something nice.
The content of the article is clear and there is nothing wrong with it. The fact is that Russian students are very welcome, but difficult and painful considerations have led to a decision that has an impact on the festival and especially on these young Russian people. Russian children who have nothing to do with a war that their megalomaniacal leader doesn't call war.
It is going too far to publish the emails from Moscow, but trust me they are heartbreaking.
Translation by Google of the article on the DvhN website
"Terrible, terrible." Co-organizer Eva Kingma finds it very painful that music festival Grolloo Flute Sessions had to decide to exclude the Russian delegation.
Refugees from Ukraine live in Grolloo, so the arrival of Russian musicians might evoke too many emotions.
Holding an international event is not easy these days. Does corona not throw a spanner in the works, or the very tense international situation. As a result, from August 24 there will be 12 participants in Flute Sessions, in which young and very talented flutists participate.
“Unfortunately, after much consultation and with great pain in our hearts, we had to decide to transfer the participation of the Russian delegation this year,” says Kingma. “Ukrainian refugees stay in the village, with villagers at home. We want to avoid stepping on their souls. These people fled after their homes were burned down.” Kingma has a flute making workshop in Grolloo, which is renowned among connoisseurs, where she has been building flutes for years together with the silversmith David Kerkhof. A few years ago she took the initiative to bring talented young flutists to Grolloo for mutual inspiration and coaching.
This year's Russian delegation would consist of very talented children from Russia, aged roughly 10 to 14, plus two students from Moscow who had both won a prestigious first prize in a flute competition at the world-famous Gnessin Conservatory, which meant participation in the Grolloo Flute Festival.
Kingma fully realizes that these young people have no part in the horrors in Ukraine, but also knows what ethnic sensitivities a war evokes. “At first we thought they could come. Mayor Anno Wietze Hiemstra saw possibilities, the families where the Ukrainian refugees stayed, also thought that it would be possible under certain conditions. But in the end we decided to avoid any risk of hurting people. We do, however, firmly believe that music and culture should remain outside of politics. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that way.”
Surprisingly, Kingma says she has received an understanding response from Moscow. “Our contact person there is a teacher who hates what is happening in Ukraine and she understands which emotions we have to take into account. She finds it very sad. She cares deeply for the Ukrainians. Talented children are raised in Russia under a very strict regime. She has a lot of trouble with that herself. That is why she has been here in Grolloo with the children a few times in recent years to show them how nice it is when you can make music together in a much more relaxed atmosphere. Right now we would have liked that so much.”
Not only because of the war in Ukraine, but also because of the resurgent corona epidemic, international guests have dropped out. “People are still afraid to travel. Participants from Japan and China canceled at the last minute”
During Flute Sessions, talented flutists come to make music together, take individual lessons and master classes. In addition, two more public concerts are planned in the church of Grolloo. The event is taking place for the seventh time. It starts on Wednesday 24 August and lasts until Sunday 28 August. The participants are accompanied by the well-known coaches Matthias Ziegler, Ian Clarke and Wissam Boustany under the piano accompaniment of the Bulgarian pianist Kamelia Miladinova.
Kingma: „I hope that next time we will be able to receive the Russians again. But I fear that the issue with Ukraine is not over yet. In any case, we are going to make it another fantastic festival.”
Open to the public
Part of the program is free to the public.
Thursday 25, Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 there are masterclasses to attend in the church in Grolloo from 11.00 to 12.30.
Wednesday 24, Thursday 25, Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 there are 'performance classes' to attend, also in the church from 14.00 to 15.30.
Russian participation? Response to media
The media announces the flute festival Grolloo Flute Sessions and the two concerts offered on 27 and 28 August. We are happy that another festival can be organized after 2 years of Corona. Even if it's an insecure reboot. The media also stated that Russian participation would be 'barred'. We notice that this evokes a lot and that this overshadows the core of the message. We would like to respond to this. In 2018 and 2019 we were very happy and honored to have a number of Russian children participate in the festival. Good personal ties were formed then, which are still there today. The decision not to allow Russian children to participate this year was made with a heavy heart, in close coordination with their teacher. So there is no question of 'repelling'. In addition to many other considerations, we had to take into account that this concerns (young) children and that it was impossible to estimate whether we would expose children to polarized and politicized reactions. We agree with many who comment: Children and music should not be exposed to this. Unfortunately, this already appears to be a valid concern. The press reaction and some reactions to it show how divided we are by geopolitical misery and we are forced to make choices that we all know how unjust they are.