Highlighted Composer: Vanessa Lann

With the premiere of her ‘Stap Verder’ and her ‘Dancing to an Orange Drummer’ at the educational project ‘Heartbeat’ Vanessa Lann has many performances these months….  

Stap verder (world premiere)

The African hocket technique of ‘one player, one note’ was the inspiration and structural basis for Stap verder. In the ensemble music of many African communities each instrument produces only one tone. Each musician is responsible for voicing that tone, and only that tone, using the unique sound and character of his or her instrument. This reflects how the role of the individual in these societies is perceived. The Ngumi proverb ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ means that an individual “exists” only through contact with other persons in the community. Similarly, in this type of music (just as in Stap verder) a melody becomes discernable only when each player grows aware of the contribution of every other player. However simple, each person’s musical gesture is significant; without the participation of each member of the group, no music can happen.

Emma Lazarus’ immortal text (engraved on the Statue of Liberty in NY) – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” – also mirrors the belief that a society cannot successfully exist without recognizing the voice of even the smallest individual. – Vanessa Lann (October 2016)

More information about the premiere on December 1


HeartBeat is an educational dance show by the dance compay Project Sally and conducted by Peter Biloen. It is a show for middle-school students about a boy who can’t find his heartbeat. He stands outside the rest of his community without joining in. The Philharmonie Zuidnederland plays music by Bach, Beethoven, Michael Gordon, Ginastera, and Dancing to an Orange Drummer, by Vanessa Lann. The dancers and a spoken word artist tell the story of the boy, who eventually finds his heartbeat, joins in and even conducts the orchestra. Lann’s music can also be heard in short pieces (called “In a HeartBeat”) for various players in the orchestra which connect the scenes of the show, and change for every performance. Following a successful 10 performances in 2016, HeartBeat will be performed another 7 times in 2017!

The making of HeartBeat

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More information about Dancing to an Orange Drummer

More about Vanessa Lann

Douwe Eisenga featured in Moscow

Dutch composer Douwe Eisenga has been invited by one of the leading Russian contemporary music performers – Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (MCME) – for a collaborative project which results will be presented at important venues of Moscow (on December 21 at Multimedia Art Center) and Nizhny Novgorod (on December 22 at NCCA Arsenal)….  

The concert in Moscow will be a part of the popular concert series MAMMusic Contemporary of the Moscow Multimedia Art Center. Russian public has got acquainted with the music by Eisenga in March 2015 at the first concert of the series MAMMusic Contemporary and appreciated it very much. Specially for MCME and the Russian tour Douwe Eisenga is making a full-evening program without an intermission, a kaleidoscope of his best existed and new chamber works. For the video-part of the program which will play an important role, the composer collaborates with the Dutch video-artist Gijs Haak. For the light design the Moscow venue has engaged the Russian light-artist Elena Perelman.

Music by Eisenga is a hypnotize realization of neo-baroque minimalisme as it has been described by the Russian venues. Before the concert Douwe Eisenga will give a lecture about minimalism in music in general and tell about his own works and projects.

Upcoming concerts:

21 December 19.00 Multimedia Art Center, Moscow gfсм

22 December 19.00 NCCA Arsenal, Nizhny Novgorod

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More information about Douwe Eisenga

Kate Moore Portrait Concert

Korzo will host The Night of the Second Hague School, and the entire theatre will be given over to dozens of musicians, ensemble Modelo62 among them, performing in every nook and cranny, including the loading bays, concert halls, rehearsal studios and even in the office spaces….  

Concerts and happenings will include a portrait concert dedicated to Kate Moore with large ensemble pieces, and Ensemble Klang will play the long-awaited reprise of Oscar Bettison’s now classical ‘bluegrass requiem’ O Death.

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Works by Kate Moore in the Donemus Webshop

Opera ‘Cantos’ by Alexey Sioumak

On initiative of the internationally recognized conductor Teodor Currentzis, music director of the Perm Opera & Ballet Theater (Russia), Russian composer Alexey Sioumak has got a commission for a new opera, a music mystery. Opera ‘Cantos’ will get its premiere on December 6th at the Perm Opera Theater….  

Cantos ( ‘songs’ in Greek) was inspired by the biography and works  of the American writer Ezra Pound  (1885—1972), one of the founders of modernistic literature, who has written a work under the same title ‘Cantos’. In Cantos one comes across many languages, including Greeks, Spanish, Latin as well as meta-language, lots of allegories. Specially invited to stage the opera, a well-known Russian stage director Semjon Alexandrovsky is one of the founders and ideologists of Pop-up Theater in St. Petersburg, developer of so called ‘documentary theater’.

Teodor Currentzis has asked the composer to create something special, unknown till now for the music world for a not expected line-up, like violin and choir instead of expected orchestra.

‘I was impressed by the attempt of Ezra Pound to realize something like Babylon Tower from different languages. Also interesting was his positive attitude to the contrarily political directions: from Rooseveld to Hitler. Pound saw the politics as a funny game. He was put into a prison by Americans, into a open air cell, and everyone who walked along watched him. Pound gave then a vow of silence. Pound was an Artist, which was seen as insane, mysterious, whose vision no one could share.

Violin solo plays a role of the Artist, who has given a vow of silence and can say something only by not-distingue sounds. Other participants of the opera are a choir (musicAeterna) and percussionists, at the end electronics plays an important role as well.

Opera Cantos is not the first collaboration of Teodor Currentzis and Alexey Sioumak. In 2008 together with famous Russian theater stage director Cyrill Serebrennikov at the contemporary arts festival ‘Territory’ was staged the opera ‘Station’ at Vinzavod, Moscow. In 2010 at Tchekhov Theater Moscow the same artistic team has showed a theater version of ‘Requiem’ by Alexey Sioumak, a time manifest dedicated to the WWII victims.

These websites provide more Russian information about Cantos:

Article M24

Article at the Perm Opera

Dances on the shores of the Lethe

Alexei Lubimov, a celebrated Russian pianist, famous for promoting new music from the very start of his brilliant career, has been invited by Winteravonden aan de Amstel festival to perform Russian music in the Hermitage Amsterdam…  

Promoting new music in the Soviet Union was certainly not appreciated, so for many years he was prohibited to leave the country and perform abroad. On Sunday December 11th he will get the Dutch public acquainted with the most popular and beloved contemporary Russian composers – Vladimir Martynov and Pavel Karmanov in the program ‘Dances on the shores of the Lethe’.

Lubimov will also play ‘Solo devildance IV’ by famous Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, whom he is actively promoting to his audience in Russia and abroad. ‘The Beatitudes’ written by Vladimir Martynov on request by Kronos Quartet for two string quartets, will be performed by Dudok Quartet and Dostoyevski Kwartet.

Donemus friends can get 15% tickets discount (promo-code DONEMUS123) via the next link:

And in the meantime, Canto Ostinato by Simeon ten Holt has been recently performed in Russia by the Dutch piano quartet Rondane Kwartet in Svetlanov Hall of Moscow International Performing Arts Center, better known as Dom Muzyki. Almost at the same time, Canto Ostinato can be heard in New York on the famous choreography by Lucinda Childs (7 performances at the Joyce Theater).

Wende sings Tarenskeen’s Winterreise in New York!

Boudewijn Tarenskeen’s composition ‘Winterreise’ is a contemporary interpretation of, and commentary on, the vocal recital. This genre has roots in the 19th century, with Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise as one of the high points. ….  

With Tarenskeen’s composition, the “Lieder” become songs, the poetry turn into lyrics, and the recital becomes a performance. A battle between singer and pianist, staged by Gerardjan Rijnders.

Schubert’s hero tells of his long, winter journey. He is a rejected lover full of romantic sadness and longing for death. Wende: “An adventure that tells poetically about loss, transience, death, love, and acceptance.” Tarenskeen’s composition translates those emotions into contemporary life and thereby sheds new light on the original work. He will sing his score, crying, scrubbing, dancing, hammering, and whispering.

Three more performances in 2016:
December 2, 2016 – Goede Rede, Almere
December 7, 2016 – Theater aan het Spui, Den Haag
December 14, 2016 – National Sawdust, New York

Watch the trailer

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Read more about Boudewijn Tarenskeen

Johan Wagenaar Prize for Martijn Padding

The Hague is globally renowned for being a hub of new music. The 42nd edition of the Dag in de Branding Festival will bring composers affiliated with the city into the limelight….

One of the most creative minds is Martijn Padding, who will receive the prestigious Johan Wagenaar Award for his diverse oeuvre. A concert celebrating the award will feature the three brilliant solo concerti he wrote. As head of the composition department at the Royal Conservatory, Martijn Padding hands down his passion for music and can be credited with fostering a new generation of composers graduating from The Hague, who since the turn of the millennium have been making waves in the international musical scene.

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Julius Röntgen

Julius Röntgen, a prolific composer, was born on May 9, 1855 in Leipzig (Germany). He was the son of the violin player Engelbert Röntgen and the pianist Pauline Klengel. He grew up with the strong musical tradition of this city, where his father played in the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Julius died on September 13, 1932 in Utrecht (The Netherlands).

From 1869 to 1873, Röntgen studied piano with Louis Plaidy and Carl Reinecke in Düsseldorf. He ended his studies with the Munich composer Franz Lachner and with the cantor and theory teacher Ernst Friedrich Richter in Leipzig.

After spending his childhood in Leipzig, he accepted a position as a head teacher at the Muziekschool of the Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Toonkunst Amsterdam (Music school of the Society for the Promotion of Music, Amsterdam) in 1878. He has left a mark on Dutch musical life as a composer, pianist, conductor, organiser of concerts and teacher ever since. During the next 28 years, Röntgen organized “Soirees voor Kamermuziek” (Soirees for Chamber music) in the building Felix Meritis.

In 1884, he co-founded the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music and first worked for this institute as a teacher and later on as managing director (1912).

As pianist, Röntgen played all piano concerts of Ludwig van Beethoven with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Willem Kes, in the season 1893/1894. Also, he organised a Grieg Festival in 1897 and a Brahms festival in 1898.

Furthermore, he worked together with the bass John Messchaert, the cellist Pablo Casals and the violinist Carl Flesch. With his two oldest sons, he constituted the Röntgen Trio in 1912. His years of friendship with Edvard Grieg is documented in the correspondence, which was published by Röntgen in 1930.

In 1924, he retired from Amsterdam musical life and moved to Bilthoven in order to commit himself entirely to composing.

Julius’ extensive body of work, containing more than 600 compositions, consists of symphonies, concertos, chamber music in various settings, songs, works for choir and operas.

His first compositions were published in 1871. From 1892, Röntgen spent most of his summers in Denmark. The Norwegian folklore can be heard in his works, such as the suite ‘Aus Jotunheim’ (1892, originally for violin and piano, and also for orchestra).

During the last period of his life, from 1924 until 1932, he wrote in excess of two hundred works, including 18 symphonies.

On the occasion of his 75th birthday, Julius Röntgen was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh. At an homage in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, he played his sixth and seventh piano concerto.

In 2007, Jurjen Vis graduated at the University of Utrecht with the Dutch biography “Gaudeamus: het leven van Julius Röntgen (1855-1932), componist en musicus” (“Gaudeamus: the life of Julius Röntgen (1855-1932), composer and musician”). The book was published by Waanders in Zwolle.

Leo Smit

Leo Smit was born to a wealthy, non-orthodox Portuguese Jewish family, on May 14, 1900 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Together with his wife he was deported by the Germans in 1943, via Westerbork to Sobibór extermination camp. Upn arrival, they were immediately annihilated.

From 1919, Leo Smit studied piano and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory with Sem Dresden and Bernard Zweers. In 1924, he became the first student at this conservatory to achieve the grade cum laude for composition in his final exams.

After his graduation, Smit became a teacher in analysis and harmony at the Amsterdam Conservatory.

He went on to live for 10 years abroad – mostly in Paris and one year in Brussels, but returned to Amsterdam in 1937, where he gave private lessons in piano, music theory, analysis, and composition.

Leo Smit composed in a neoclassical style, often in C major. He was also inspired by the new music of his time: many of his works contain the jazz rhythms and harmonies that he enjoyed so much. Smit’s style also has French influences, reminiscent of Ravel and Debussy; but there is also something of Hindemith in the ‘Concerto‘ for viola; and Stravinsky, in the ‘Clarinet Trio‘. Altogether, his music is warm, melodious, full of variety, classical in form, and has interesting harmonies.

Leo wrote his first composition when he was sixteen years old. Unfortunately, all of his works written before 1922 have been lost.
In 1925, his first orchestral work, ‘Silhouetten‘, (Silhouettes) was premiered by the Amsterdam Conservatory under Isaac Mossel and, three years later, performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Cornelis Dopper. The review in Het Volk said, “Throughout the whole suite the composer makes use of the unusual sounds produced by a black jazz band.”

Leo Smit became well-known with several “scene musics” for student associations, such as the ‘A-Z game’ for Leiden.
Like many other Dutch composers, Smit was attracted to the new wave in French music, and in 1927 he went to Paris, where he stayed for nine years. Nevertheless, he retained strong connections with Holland. In 1929, the Concertgebouw Orchestra played his ballet music, ‘Schemselnihar‘.

In the following years, Leo Smit wrote three major works featuring the harp: a ‘Trio‘ (for flute, viola and harp), a ‘Quintet‘, (for flute, string trio and harp) and a ‘Concertino‘ (for harp and orchestra). He wrote all three for Rosa Spier; she played the ‘Concertino‘ in 1934 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Eduard van Beinum.

With the German invasion of Holland in the Second World War, the situation deteriorated for everyone, including musicians. By 1941, Jewish musicians were no longer allowed to perform in public; later they were entirely prohibited from exercising their profession. In spite of the difficult situation, Smit continued to write music; his last composition is the wonderful ‘Sonata‘ for flute and piano, which he completed in February 1943.

Anthon van der Horst

Anthon van der Horst was born on June 20, 1899 in Amsterdam and died on March 7, 1965 in Hilversum.

His father Hendrik was organist and conductor of an amateur orchestra. At age four, Anthon and Hendrik played the romantic symphonic repertoire with four hands on piano. The great musical talent of Anthon was soon evident.

In 1915, Anthon van der Horst started to study composition with Bernard Zweers and organ and piano with Jean Baptiste Charles de Pauw at the Amsterdam Conservatory. He graduated cum laude in his organ studies.

He was a famous organist at home and abroad, mainly due to his concerts. At age fifteen, Van der Horst became the organist of the Walloon Church in Amsterdam. He had also been an organist at the English Church in Amsterdam (1918-1941), the Nederlandse Protestanten Bond (Dutch Federation of Protestants) in Hilversum (1944-1955), the Big Church in Naarden (1955-1964). Moreover, he participated in the furst Dutch improvisationconcert in the Dom Church Utrecht (1938) and made concert tours to a.o. Venezuela, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

In 1921, Van der Horst was involved in the foundation of the Amsterdam Music Lyceum, where he was also appointed as a lecturer. Six years later, he became director of the Hilversum Music Lyceum. In 1935, Van der Horst is appointed as head teacher of organ at the Amsterdam Conservatory. A few years later, he was also appointed as head teacher choral and orchestral conducting. He continued to hold this position, until shortly before his death.

In 1931, Anthin van der Horst became the conductor of the Dutch Bach Society. Under his leadership, the annual performances of the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ and the ‘Hohe Messe’ by Johann Sebastian Bach in Naarden grew into an institution of Dutch musical life. He continued to conduct these concerts until just before his death.

Nevertheless, he believed composing was the most important expression of his musical talent. He wrote more than a 100 works, extensive compositions for orchestra, choir and orchestra, songs, organ works and chamber music.

In the musical language of Anthon van der Horst, an eight tone scale plays an important role, the Modus conjunctus, which was employed for the first time in the ‘Suite in modo conjunctio‘ (1943). Van der Horst’s interest for organ constrcution and contemporary experiments in the area of acoustics and physics of music made him obviously interested in the ideas of Adriaan Fokker and his 31-tone organ (‘Suite voor 31-toonsorgel‘, 1953).

In 1919, Van der Horst received the Prix d’Excellence for organ, as the first in the Netherlands to do so. For his merit as interpreter and expert on liturgical music of Bach, the University of Groningen gave him an honorary doctorate in theology in 1948. Two years later, he was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Gert Oost finished the biography “Anthon van der Horst 1899-1965. Leven en werk” in 1992 (Canaletto, Alphen aan den Rijn).