Hans Kox †; loss of a great composer

On Monday, February 25, composer Hans Kox died at the age of 88. This June the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Groot Omroepkoor will perform and record his Symphony VI. Unfortunately, Hans Kox can’t be present at this world premiere anymore.
Donemus will treasure his impressive oeuvre…   

Read the articles at
the NRC
and the Parool

Klas Torstensson – Lantern Lectures by Norbotten NEO

In March the ensemble Norbotten NEO, conducted by Christian Karlsen will perform the complete cycle ‘Lantern Lectures’ by Klas Torstensson at several locations in Sweden. The four volumes have over the past fifteen years been performed in a number of countries by ensembles such as ASKO|Schönberg, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, Oslo Sinfonietta, KammarensembleN, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Sinfonietta Riga, conducted by conductors such as Etiënne Siebens, Koen Kessels, Lorraine Vaillancourt, Christian Eggen, Hans Leenders and Normunds Sne. Now at Culture house Luleå, Sweden…   

After having completed his opera The Expedition (1994-1999), Klas Torstensson felt a need to write music which was ‘lighter’ and of a smaller format. At the same time, he realised that he himself and his creative work would never be the same again after he had written an opera about Death and Love!
While working on the opera, he received commissions from several ensembles: Asko Ensemble (Amsterdam), Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Montréal), KammarensembleN (Stockholm) and Klangforum Wien. He decided to write a cycle of works for all these ensembles – a cycle where every single work could be performed independently, and where each piece, when the cycle was completed, would function as a ‘movement’ in a larger whole.
The different ‘volumes’ are introduced by a ‘brass link’ for trumpet, horn and trombone. These ‘brass links’ can also be performed independently as Four Brass Links.

Volume I
Volume I was commissioned by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and has a bass drum as its main character, a bass drum which is played with brushes. The title Solid Rocks refers to the layers or stratas that can be found in the music: veins being forced into the flow of the music. Volume I was premiered in May 2001 in Montréal by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne.

Volume II
In Volume II the division in layers is maybe even more striking. Moments of freeze are projected against an active, massive and percussive row of events. Raw surfaces opposed to playful gestures. This volume was commissioned by Südwestrundfunk Stuttgart, and it was premiered in February 2003 by Klangforum Wien.

Volume III
As most of us know, the northern lights, the Aurora Borealis, do not produce any sound, despite myths telling the opposite. Several years ago Klas Torstensson received a recording of distorted radio waves, the distortion caused by the northern lights. These recordings were treated until he obtained something which he experienced as beautiful, multilayered electronic sound: the sound of the northern lights, if the northern lights had produced any sound!
In his opera The Expedition this sound plays an important role. In some of the parts of Aurora Borealis, he has transcribed and orchestrated one of the incoming layers for ensemble.
Volume III was commissioned by the Swedish Concert Institute and is dedicated to Göran Bergendal. Its premiere took place in Stockholm in February 2002.  

Volume IV
Giants’ Cauldron – or potholes – are cylindrical holes in the bedrock of a glacier, created by rotating stones in the water running underneath the glacier. In this work, we hear musical loops rotating in a similar way.
Volume IV was premiered in the Festival Éclat in Stuttgart in February 2003 by Klangforum Wien.

More info

March 7 – Norrlandsoperan (Konsertsalen), Umeå, 19:00

March 10 – Studio Acusticum, Piteå, 16:00

March 11 – Kulturens Hus, Luleå

March 13 – Tonhallen, Sundsvall, 19:00

March 17- Stockholms Konserthus (Grünewaldsalen), 16:00, Stockholm

Jadwiga Kotnowska in Hanna Kulenty’s Flute Concerto Nº 3

On March 30the the famous flute player Jadwiga Kotnowska will give the world premiere of Hanna Kulenty’s Flute Concerto nº 3 at Katowice by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR). Read more about this exciting premiere…   

“Flute Concerto No.3” was commissioned by the outstanding flute soloist Jadwiga Kotnowska and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. the world premiere will be on March 31.

A one-movement piece lasting about 25 minutes. It is written in Hanna Kulenty’s new technique, which she called “Musique Surrealistique”. She has been using this technique for several years. This is an attempt to embrace the sounds of mathesis, space-time – which she always did – but this time in a more perfect form.

“Musique surrealistique” is a juxtaposition of sound and time structures in a way to give the whole work a new kind of feeling. Kulenty does not reject so much all components of musical ingredients used so far, such as the language of music, compositional techniques, etc., but she rejects, all the types of construction techniques needed to arrange these elements. She just reassembles them. That’s why she is not afraid of “rubbing” against the so-called conventions.

First of all, she is reassembling emotions. She builds a trance, where intuition doesn’t play the main role so much, but injury – this kind of insight, which everyone has, although not everyone knows about it, and which reveals the presence of some greater than human strength, some unity above differentiation, despite everything.

Hanna says about her music: “We sail. The water level rises or we immerse ourselves. Water space slows down movements, words; drowns them out. The details and colours are exaggerated, which leads to a new, one might say inhuman face”. Of course, the form controls the musical content in the best possible proportions and balance, which is needed to sharpen the more spiritual aspects of the work and less technical ones.

“Flute Concerto No.3” is a cascade of very fast sound sequences – “times”, which gradually slow down – albeit unpredictably – creating a new kind of narration, a new kind of “time”, an increasingly slowed time until it stops almost completely. “Almost” makes a difference here, because if we stopped this narrative – this “free time”, the work would end, but it does not. The narrative is like “frozen”.

The releasing sound cascades of the solo flute are supported by an electronic delay, which is only occasionally switched off in order to reduce the reflective, overlapping layers of music. The flute also has a so-called “glissando head” attachment, which allows you to play a smooth glissando to a greater interval range – even to a quarter, which in the case of a flute without this attachment is impossible. The orchestra is composed in such a way as to be (as if) a natural “delay” of the solo flute.

All these layers transform each other, exchange structures, “reflect” their structures and finally slow down but do not stop to finally reveal themselves with pseudo-cadence, not so much with the solo flute, but with the whole form. It is like a surrealist waltz. Jazz? Pop? Rock? We are in a different “slow time-world”, which turns into a new kind of music, and thus a new kind of narration. This new narration also starts to slow down. The new “very slow time” keeps you in suspense, because you never know when it will slow down or when it will accelerate when it will “freeze”. The unpredictability is in the details. However, predictability is such that we slow down and, what is interesting, we are waiting for it! (It’s as if we watched the sunset where the movement of the Earth can be seen. We seem to know what will happen, but we look at one point and wait in tension for what is inevitable…. ).

After such a “suspension”, a pseudo-cadence of form – consisting in the greatest release of material, the whole gradually returns to the starting point. So we speed up the whole form. This takes place much faster and smoother than in the case of the release process. The sound cascades of the solo flute, interwoven with a heterophonically treated orchestra, return almost immediately after a surrealist waltz. They are modified and are the culmination of the work. Created by these “time turbulences”, the trance holds in suspense from the beginning to the end of the work.

That’s why she doe not focus on the technical aspects of composition, but tries to deal with those aspects that are most important to her: metaphysics and the kind of magic that is supposed to touch us, move us and enrich us spiritually.

More info about the concert

Link to the score

Jan-Peter de Graaff – ‘Le café de nuit’ at the BBC

On March the 5th, 2019, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jac van Steen, will give the UK premiere of ‘Le café de nuit’ of Jan-Peter de Graaff, as part of their ‘Hear and now’- broadcast series for BBC Radio 3. The piece will be performed and recorded during a live concert at the BBC Maida Vale Studios in North London. The concert will be broadcasted on BBC Radio 3 later this year…   

Jan-Peter de Graaff wrote his ‘Le café de nuit’ in 2017 and it was premiered at the ZaterdagMatinee in January 2018. This work was selected as most worthy for worldwide broadcasting by radio music producers participating in the 65th International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) held in Budapest in May 2018.

“Le café de nuit” is a 13-minute fantasia/nocturne for orchestra, based on the painting (with the same name) by 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 interested Jan-Peter de Graaff 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, De Graaff tried to find this strange balance between joy and danger, between alertness (or even panic) and being drunk, between passion and truth.

To attend the performance, reserve your (free) tickets via BBC’s ‘Shows and Tours’ – web page (limited availability)

Le Café de Nuit at Donemus

To Plant Again – Talentopera by Adam Łukawski

During the OFF Days at the Opera Forward Festival, there will be 5 premieres of short operas, produced by a team of students. The common theme is: identity and confrontation – the fear of the unknown. Composer Adam Łukawski wrote ‘To Plant Again’, an opera for 16 performers with sounding costumes, 2 music boxes and live electronics…   

This opera-project by talents from the Netherlands, Scotland, Australia and Poland deals about taking a distance to get closer, we see a colony of albatrosses, a bird community, and one single albatross, which does not fit in the group. He decides to leave and step outside his comfort zone so that he can grow.

Leave the comfort zone, which these six talents do too and what they expect from their cast. The opera is not in any way a traditional one: there is no orchestra, a dialogue is lacking and the costumes of the performers are the instruments. Movement and sound are inseparable and build together the composition. Music and choreography depend on each other like two albatrosses that have fallen in love with each other.

More info

Chiel Meijering in ballet performance in Stuttgart

‘One of a Kind’ applies not just to this full-length work but also to its creator: Jiří Kylián. With this company premiere, the Stuttgart Ballet celebrates one of its heroes and adds a new work to its extensive Kylián repertory for the first time in over 20 years. The many performances include music of Chiel Meijering, Benjamin Britten, David Lumsdaine, John Cage…  

In the fall of 1968, Jiří Kylián was hired by John Cranko straight from the Royal Ballet School to join the Stuttgart Ballet as a dancer. Two years later he created his first ballet under the auspices of the Stuttgart Noverre Society’s “Young Choreographers” workshop.

Cranko, recognizing Kylián’s talent, encouraged him to continue choreographing and commissioned Kylián’s first pieces as a choreographer, thus laying the foundation for an extraordinary career, one which has had a lasting impact on European dance. Raising the choreographic and conceptual bar with his unique works and breaking boundaries in terms of age limits in dance, Kylián directed the Nederlands Dans Theater for 20 years, building a sought-after repertory and perfecting an unmistakable aesthetic signature.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kylián’s arrival in Stuttgart, the Stuttgart Ballet presents the company premiere of ‘One of a Kind’, a three-act work set to music by – among others – Chiel Meijering, Benjamin Britten and John Cage. In addition, Kylián’s photo installation Free Fall will be seen for the first time outside the Netherlands, exhibited in the State Theater Stuttgart’s Chamber Theater from February 12th to 24th, as a run-up to the Stuttgart premiere of One of a Kind on the 22nd of February.

More info

Kyriakides at the Opera Forward Festival

From spear to smartphone: over the centuries, human beings have developed countless tools to master their world. But do we really rule our technology, or are we in its grasp? ‘Ode to Man’ by Yannis Kyriakides will be performed on March 1–4 at the Opera Forward Festival…   

Homo Instrumentalis brings together four compositions exploring our relationship with technology: “Machinations” by Georges Aperghis (2000 – version Silbersee 2017), “La fabbrica illuminata” by Luigi Nono (1964) and “Ode to Man (part 1 and 2)” by Yannis Kyriakides (2017).

We hear admiration for human ingenuity, fear of industrial machinery, as well as satisfaction with the conveniences of the digital world. On the basis of these compositions, Silbersee blends song, dance, electronics and video art. Homo Instrumentalis is a visual music performance about man and machine.

Silbersee is a production centre for unorthodox music theatre and experimental opera. Artistic director and founder Romain Bischoff creates meetings between a diversity of theatre makers, composers, writers, singers, dancers, actors, choreographers, puppeteers, circus performers and other artists, in genres ranging from classical to urban. This leads to interdisciplinary performances that each in their own way are physical, poetic and disarming.

Performers – Fanny Alofs, Miguel Angél Gaspar, Jennifer Claire van der Hart, Eléonore Lemaire, Jorge Morro, Carl Refos, Michaela Riener, Johanne Saunier
Live-Electronics & Soundscapes – Wouter Snoei

Composers Georges Aperghis, Luigi Nono, Yannis Kyriakides
Musical direction Romain Bischoff
Performance Silbersee
Choreography Johanne Saunier
Video Frederik Jassogne, Bart Moens (Hangaar)
Lighting and Stage Design Floriaan Ganzevoort
Costume Design Dieuweke van Reij
Choreographic & artistic assistance Juliette van Ingen
Dramaturgical advice Wout van Tongeren

Supported by Performing Arts Fund NL, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and Ammodo.

More info and tickets

Klas Torstensson – L’autunno di Christina

Klas Torstensson’s ‘L’autunno di Christina’, will be performed at the festival ‘Decibels’ on March 1. Soprano Charlotte Riedijk will perform together with Sinfonietta Rīga and conductor Normunds Šnē…   

Christina’s Autumn is the literal translation of the title of Klas Torstensson’s work, but in its true sense the title here connotes the life’s autumn – the last years before one’s passing. Torstensson’s Christina Cyclus tells about the life and works of Swedish queen Christina (1632—1689). After ten years on the throne, she abdicated, adopted Catholicism and spent the last few decades of her life in Rome as a patroness of fine arts.

In the last part of Christina Cyclus, ‘L’autunno di Christina‘ for soprano and large instrumental ensemble we meet the queen at the end of her years, looking back on her rebellious life, full of struggles, unfulfilled desires and longing. In his work, Torstensson has used the words of both Christina herself and her contemporaries.

The composition was first performed by Charlotte Riedijk and Sinfonietta Rīga in May 2018 in Rotterdam.

composition: Klas Torstensson
conductor: Normunds Šnē
soprano: Charlotte Riedijk

More info about the concert 

Focus on Jan Vriend (80) at the Orgelpark

During the year that composer Jan Vriend turns 80, his works will be performed at the Orgelpark by Ralph van Raat and Jan Vriend – piano, Jan Hage – organ, Ilonka Kolthof – piccolo and Joy Lisney – cello…   

At the program are Bachanalia… mit Tränen… for organ (2009), Symphonic Dances for cello (2013) and movements from Liebestraüme for piano (2010). And the world premiere of a new Sonata for piccolo and piano!

Read the long interview with Jan Vriend by René van Peer

See below the rehearsal of Bachanalia in 2009 at the Concertgebouw


Kyriakides – Face

On Saturday, February 16th, the composition ‘Face’ by Yannis Kyriakides can be heard again at the Orgelpark. Composed for, and performed by, ELECTRA (Michaela Riener, Susana Borsch, Diamanda Dramm, Saskia Lankhoorn), ‘Face’ was made in collaboration with visual artists Johannes Schwartz and Maria Barnas…   

Face is a multimedia composition for voice, violin, recorders, piano, live electronics and video, based on notions of face, not only as a manifestation of emotion and identity, but as a data set to be collected and used by external powers. The piece navigates between the problematic practice of anthropometry in the early 20th century, specifically the measurement of cranial features to determine character types, to the current use of emotional face recognition software to collect data about the emotional engagement of consumers.

More info about the concert

Face at the Donemus catalogue

Yannis Kyriakides at Donemus