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Animal, we are not bad

Sophie Gravier

Pure natural musicality. A notable guest of the Pause project at La Donaira (a type of Andaluz Villa Medici reimagined by Pierre Rabhi) the Dutch cellist Lidy Blijdorp stops in front of us. 

If it is true that musicians are extraordinary animals, then Lidy Blijdorp is music from her feet to her head. Or from her mane to her hooves. Behind her cello, she is a thoroughbred running through the mountains. In life she is ‘a bird’, according to her friend and companion Julien Brocal. Great body of a heron, brightly coloured plumage dress, the shoes of a squaw. Her laughter bursts like a scream that slams into silence. When she talks, her big blue eyes come alive and are filled with pictures. The words jump and jump, staccato.  The legato and all the nuance is reserved for her dialogue with the instrument.

‘My two brothers used to play the violin. My mother told me: choose your instrument. At six, I went to a concert, I saw the cello and said: I want that!’ Her father used to work in the archives of the Ministry of Culture, her mother teaches English literature. ‘My mother had studied music as a child as a child. She used to play with us. My father didn’t, and my brother played the piano. One day, he said: music is a girls’ thing. So my father said: I’ll start. And he learnt the oboe.  My brother continued. Today he is a doctor and plays jazz.’ 

Lidy is the only professional musician in the family. One of her sisters is also a doctor, the other a professor of fine arts. ‘I was very timid. And I had a very good teacher who talked to me in images, with colours. This is ideal for a child.’ She grew up in Leiderdorp, a little town in Holland. ‘I couldn’t see what else I could do other than music, although I used to like languages . . .’ Later she moved to Brussels to study at La Chapelle with Gary Hoffmann. ‘He was always very clear in his explanations. Thanks to him I learnt to polish the details without sacrificing the line.’ 

Lidy likes composing, and playing jazz. ‘I have a good ear for harmony, but I don’t have the time. No sooner do I get started, than I have a concert.’ Classical music, however, fills it with the billions of possibilities of interpretation that are open to an artist. ‘I try to first find the character of the work. That’s the most important. The rest flows and the work is never ending .’

She met Julien Brocal at La Chapelle. ‘He was playing in the dark, I approached. He said to me: let’s play together. It was spontaneous. We breathe the same. For her duo, Lidy Blijdorp has done a transcription for piano and cello from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky. She likes all music but has a weakness for Ravel. She’s enamoured of his sound, she would like to play it on the clarinet. She talks to us about the orchestra she set up as a teenager. ‘We touch a note and we hear a symphony. It’s magic!’ Then adds: ‘Too bad it’s the leader who decides everything . . .’

Lidy has a dream of music. To travel in a lorry and play in cafes, from town to town . . .’ Her blue eyes go misty. The music calls her. The bird-woman flies to other planets. We let her escape. And let’s go there, to the stage.

Tonight at La Donaira, below the oak, Lidy plays Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello with the violinist Rosanne Philippens.