“Donemus is courageous and committed in the way it actively promotes new music…. While some other countries have equivalent organizations, I am not aware of any that is so proactive. Donemus sets a standard that others should follow.”
(Stephen Baggaley, Brisbane)
One of our most prominent composers, Dutch-Swedish Klas Torstensson, will be ‘composer in focus’ at De Doelen in Rotterdam in 2018. During this retrospective year many of his vibrant compositions will be performed at ‘portrait concerts’ in De Doelen.
Concerts will include both recent and older – ‘classic’ – works, scored for (mostly) large ensemble.
The retrospective kicks off on 14 January: ‘The Birthday Party’.
Klas Torstensson‘s ‘Birthday Party‘ contains two concerts and a dinner in the Stadsbrasserie. In the afternoon there is a semi-staged performance of ‘In grosser Sehnsucht‘, dedicated to and performed by soprano Charlotte Riedijk – her previous performance of the five characters was called by newspaper Trouw ‘astonishing‘. In the evening the Doelen Ensemble performs Sönerna and No Slash, and the combined version of these two: ‘Elliott loves bebop‘ (a Dutch premiere).
At the concert of Saturday, January 13th the Residentie Orkest will perform the premiere of Jan-Peter de Graaff – ‘Le café de suit’ at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam
“Le café de nuit” is a 13-minute fantasia/nocturne for orchestra, based on the painting (with the same name) bij Vincent van Gogh, and the letters he wrote to this brother Theo during his stay in Arles, where he rented a studio above the café. In the letters, he describes this place as “a place where you can ruin yourself, go mad, commit crimes”. This subject really interested me as a composer as there is really a conflict within the concept of a café. Usually, one goes to a café to escape the ongoing world and everyday problems, to dance, to celebrate life and to drink and go drunk to immerse oneself in a different reality. However, there is a danger, as van Gogh states, as the café also influences the world outside. It is a place where the darkest side of human behaviour emerges. In the piece I tried to find this strange balance between joy and danger, between alertness (or even panic) and being drunk, between passion and truth.
The Lacrimosa or 13 Magic Songs are a lamentation, man’s final prayer before Judgement. This prayer can at once be terse and show the various states of man: gleeful, repenting, fearful, lamenting, faithful… During the performance of the 13 Songs, the listener’s souls are supposed to pass through a series of excruciating, expressive stages and finally reach a catharsis….
The Requiem has developed from the funeral mass and become widely popular as a secular type of sacred music. Arguably because of its subject matter, the genre hasn’t died during the 20th century; it has lived on, with works by Britten, Ligeti, Schnittke and Penderecki expressing how their authors longed for reconciliation with, and forgiveness from, the world and themselves.
The heart of the Requiem is the Dies Irae, well known for the words with which it opens but, thanks to Mozart, no less for its conclusive lines:
Ah! that day of tears and mourning,
From the dust of earth returning
Man for judgement must prepare him,
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.
Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.
It is exactly this prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation that has won the Requiem its popularity. Although many Requiem varieties exist, to our knowledge no purely instrumental version has been composed yet. The Lacrimosa express an interesting and original view on the genre, in which violins replace human voices, sounding now as a prayerful chant, then as a malignant howl or a bird song.
Most importantly, the parts relay an alternating perusal of the text of Lacrimosa as it is — perhaps the most strikingly human, prayerful words that exist, asking God for redemption and mercy.
The Lacrimosa or 13 Magic Songs are a lamentation, man’s final prayer before Judgement. This prayer can at once be terse and show the various states of man: gleeful, repenting, fearful, lamenting, faithful… During the performance of the 13 Songs, the listener’s souls are supposed to pass through a series of excruciating, expressive stages and finally reach a catharsis. This direction determines the cycle’s dramaturgic structure. The aim is to transform an immediate, openly emotional response to powerful impressions — something most contemporary art refuses to deal with — into the musical form of the Lacrimosa. For all the varied techniques to be applied in the work, its emphasis is on feelings, its aspiration to capture the listeners’ minds, immersing them in the affect of each part. This idea can be realized only by a multi-voice, single-timbre ensemble of violins, which are at once a unity and a multitude, one soul and its many voices, a number of people struggling to come at peace with the world, one another, and silence…
Writing music for the common 20th-century types of classical ensembles that comprise a variety of instruments has lost its appeal to me over the last couple of years. My musical forms tend to show a reduction to homogeneous instrumental compositions: the Marian Antiphons for 12 voices a cappella, the Insane Dances for saxophone quartet, Six Bagatelles for Two Violins, the Suite – Homage to Alfred Schnittke for three cellos, etc. Thus, I conceived of a cycle for a lifetime, entitled Similar. Its first chapter is to be the Lacrimosa or 13 Magic Songs for seven violins.
Sander Germanus has a unique vision of music. Hallucinatory and disorienting harmonic progressions play an essential role in his world of sound. The expectations of the listener can be optimally put to the test by the dizzy fluctuations of his ‘dualistic tuning’ that he has developed. Within this strange but consonant musical context the hearer can also be put on the wrong track by means of contrary rhythms. With these unexpected but pleasurable dizzying sounds he is searching for a kind of intellectual entertainment that should make all intoxicants unnecessary. That’s why his motto is: “You don’t need drugs, just listen to my music!”
The composer explains: “From all the hallucinatory stimulants, the ones which enter the human body through the ear will cause the most beautiful alienating experiences, in my opinion. The way listeners can get pleasantly disoriented, just by playing with their musical expectations, fascinates me. These expectations, which are not given by nature but created by men and culture, are hammered into the brains of most people by endless repetition of the same tonal chord progressions in music. I like to play with this fact in an inventive and original way. The question to what extent these expectations can be changed in the mind of the average listener, so new musical perspectives could be accepted, intrigues me. Thereby also raises the interesting question whether new and unknown tonal functions and chord progressions, which are in a different way as logical as those that we know, will confuse the audience or will be adopted by them. My belief is that these listeners will be delightfully overwhelmed.”
Sander Germanus started composing music with microtones in 1996, based on his first microtonal experiment from 1992, in which he tried to let microtones sound beautiful. But it was not earlier than 1999 that he wrote a complete microtonal composition; his orchestral work Continental. After this year, almost all his works were composed in his ‘dualistic tuning’, using microtones. Since his composition Lunapark (2005-2006), which he wrote for the DoelenEnsemble and Calefax Reed Quintet, this dualistic tuning theory came together with his other inventions in terms of tempo and rhythm. Movement modulations, tempo circles, microtonal voice leading, tempo averages, stumbling rhythms; all these finds lead to a kind of ‘music thermic’, where the turbulence of the air, as it were, can be felt in his music. Without leaving these artistic principles, his music has recently evolved into various musical styles beyond contemporary classical music, after deciding to set up his own music group. With this group and its converted music instruments, he started a newand important phase in his musical work. Sander Germanus composed music for several ensembles, among others the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Calefax Reed Quintet, Asko|Schönberg, Musikfabrik, Amstel Quartet, Il Solisti del Vento, Nieuw Ensemble, Quatuor Danel, DoelenEnsemble, Studio for New Music Ensemble Moscow, Residentie Orchestra, Percussion The Hague, Aurelia Saxophone Quartet and the North Holland Philharmonic Orchestra. He received commissions from several concert series and festivals, such as the ZaterdagMatinee at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Festival of Flanders in Antwerp. His music has been performed in various countries and has been broadcasted by radio and television. His composition for piano Beetje Precies (Bit Precise) and his Capriccio voor genoeg vioolsnaren (Capriccio for enough violin strings) for violin were both recorded on CD. In 2011 the Etcetera label has released a CD, named Lunapark, with an overview of his microtonal chamber work, which was rated 10 stars in the renowned magazine for classical music ‘Listen’.
Sander Germanus (Amsterdam, 1972) studied classical saxophone from 1988 until 1995 with Ed Bogaard at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he finished his studies as a soloist with the highest grades and a distinction for artistic qualities. He began his music composition lessons with Peter-Jan Wagemans as his composition teacher and Klaas de Vries as his orchestration teacher in 1992 at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, where he finished his composition studies with honors in 1998. During 1994-1995 he also studied with Luc Van Hove at the Royal Flemish Music Conservatory in Antwerp. At the invitation of De Nederlandse Opera (Dutch National Opera & Ballet) he attended a master class of Pierre Boulez in 1995. He was admitted to the Orpheus Institute in Ghent in 1999, where he obtained his laureate diploma with his thesis on microtonal music in the spring of 2005. At this institute he joined several residential seminaries from Helmut Lachenmann, Jonathan Harvey, Jan van Vlijmen, Dick Raaijmakers among others.
In 1998 he won an incentive prize from the City of Amsterdam for his composition Adamsarchipel. And in 2000 he was nominated for the NPS Culture Prize on television for his quarter-tone orchestral work Continental and reached the final with a second place. During the season 2001/2002 he was offered a stipend at the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, where he stayed for more than half a year to compose and to give lectures.
Since 2007 he is the artistic director of the Huygens-Fokker Foundation, centre for microtonal music in Amsterdam. Between 2010 and 2014, he was also a lecturer in contemporary art music at the master academy of the Lemmens Institute in Leuven (LUCA School of Arts).
Pianist Helena Basilova will present works written by her late father: pianist and componser Alexander Basilov (1946-2007). This concert will be an tribute to this composer who is still unknown in the Netherlands, who studied with Alfred Schnittke and lived in Moscow, Russia…
AlexanderBasilov (1946-2007) was a Russian composer and pianist who lived and worked in Moscow, Russia. Inspired by composers like Alfred Schnittke, Frederik Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninov and Rodion Shedrin, Alexander Basilov wrote over one hundred works, focusing on piano literature and vocal repertoire.
Additionally, he composed a large number of choir works, music-theatre plays and orchestral pieces. This very special concert features own daughter and pianist Helena Basilova who spent the last few years finding, researching and studying his compositions. She has also overseen publication of a selection of his chamber music works together with Donemus Publishing House.
On December 3 Hanna Kulenty’s ‘Concerto Rosso’ will have its world premiere at the National Forum of Music, Main Hall, Wrocław (PL). Read the personal notes of Hanna on this impressive composition…
‘Concerto Rosso’ (2017) is a sort of concerto grosso, because it was written for string quartet and string orchestra, especially for Atom String Quartet and Leopoldinum String Orchestra. I liked to name it ‘rosso’ for a good reason. It fits my new composition style that I came up with a few years ago, called ‘musique surrealistique’. In this style I not only try to ‘transform’ the nature and music conventions but above all the emotions connected with music… It is like drinking a good glass of red wine, after which you can also change a bit or transform… is it not? Of course this is a metaphor and I do not encourage you to get drunk while composing. I myself don’t do this, but what I try to do is to transform reality into my new composition technique. So far I manage to maintain a proper balance between content and form, and the musical language that I cultivate does not disturb (generally speaking) the harmony of the universe…
‘ConcertoRosso’ – although composed in strict measures – gives great possibilities for improvisation. Let me put it like this: I prefer to write exactly what I want to hear. From there you can move away, rather than doing it the opposite way: in a sense I am the architect of the idea where the musical material is more controlled by the performers. I myself improvise and play jazz too … It will be good!