Back in Oxford

So I have now officially started my second year at Oxford University. Naturally, as is the Oxford way, I have been thrown in at the deep end. As I write this from my college library (instead of doing my essay for this week…), I have completely new topics and concepts to grapple with, some more successfully than others so far.

Most BA courses at Oxford don’t have exams in second year, which gives us all time to pick options for Finals and sort out topics for dissertations and other portfolios, as well as play lots of music. Put another way, it’s a welcome breather! Motivating myself will be difficult though, without the looming threat of exams.

The work I should be doing…
My new topics are somewhat related to what I did last year, but not in any tangible way. The biggest problem is that everything seems to be in French and Latin. Languages are really not my thing: I remember very little French from GCSE (it was by far my least favourite subject), but the only Latin I know is from my Dad singing Quantum est canis in fenestram to the tune of – well, work it out for yourself. (It’s what they call ‘dog Latin’, anyway.) Sometimes it just seems as if the entire page is in Latin, making an already stressful week even worse as it feels like I am trying to crack the Enigma code…

So much to read, so little time…
Despite all the new work, I am trying to perform as much as possible. I am playing with three orchestras this term (which is possibly slightly ambitious) and they are doing some great repertoire. With the Oxford University Orchestra (OUO), I am playing Mahler’s 7th Symphony, which is an absolute monster of a piece – over an hour long! With the Philharmonic Orchestra (OUPhil), I am doing not one, but two Sibelius symphonies (5th and 7th to be precise). With the wind orchestra (OUWO), we are doing the incredible Concerto for Piano and Winds by Stravinsky, one of my favourite composers. I played The Rite of Spring over the summer and it was one of the best experiences of my life, so I am relishing the opportunity to play more.

As university starts again for the year, I am looking forward to lots of music, less looking forward to the essays I will have to write. And as for the Latin and French…

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