Astrid Stockman & Greet Samyn: A story on Classical music

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"A coincidence I could only dream of; two leading women in classical music and both are fans of our handbags! Being a classical music enthusiast myself, we had to bring Greet Samyn and Astrid Stockman together for coffee and exchanging thoughts."

We met soprano & classical pianist Astrid Stockman and Klara's radio host Greet Samyn on a fall afternoon in Ghent. We discussed ideas and performances we had seen in the last years, and both ladies shared some great music recommendations that we will feature in this blog post.

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A Young Start

Both women became interested in classical music from a young age and followed an almost identical path into their musical careers. From music school as a schoolchild, to 'Het Lemmensinstituut': a leading high school focussed on performing arts.

Being submerged with music every day, this was the place where they got to know the classical music industry inside out. Going to performances and concerts, getting to know every aspect of an orchestra and learning about its history and literature.

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Never a routine

When we ask what attracts them to classical music, both start talking about how far and deep their passion reaches. All these different layers of orchestration, counterpoint, harmony, musical development, rhythm, phrasing, texture, and form, are so complex but also so interesting to figure out.

"I can perform the same song multiple times, but still be surprised by it. Or reading into a song's literature and history. I can fill every evening like this !" - Astrid mentions.

"You can experience a classical music piece in so many different ways. Different performers, other interpretations, .... you will always hear something different in it. Season after season, I go to the same performances, and it never grows old to me ." Greet adds to the topic.

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A real-life experience

It caught our attention that both women talk about classical music as something you have to experience in real-life. While listening to Klara in your car or during work can be soothing, the total submersion still takes place when going to a live concert.

For many people going to a concert hall might feel like a barrier since they don't know where to start, but the truth is: you don't need anything to be moved, surprised or overwhelmed by art, agree both woman confidently. 

To give you a head start in your journey into classical music, we asked both ladies to reveal their favourite plays:

Greet: The danish string Quartet, 4 Scandinavian men who are excellent, Folk or classic, it doesn't matter. I saw them last year in Flagey, and the audience jumped up in excitement after their concert.

Five sheep, four goats, is a great - and a bit folky - song. It's also a song that's played often on Scandinavian weddings.

And this Cavatina from the 13th string quartet from Beethoven. Before presenting a concert, I often play this; it helps me get focused and calm.

Astrid: I'm a big fan of piano, so this Pavane from Ravel is fantastic and perfect on a cloudy evening when the rain hits my windows.

One I love to play and that balances between modern classical music and jazz: Arc-en-Ciel van Ligeti. It's actually a 'study'; the focus lies on improving your technique. But simultaneously it's also a beautiful concert piece. The more you listen to it, the more colours and layers you perceive.