Gerard Beljon – Planctus Cygni

On June 14th Collegium Vocale Eindhoven will bring the world premiere of the full version Gerard Beljon’s ‘Planctus Cygni’, commissioned by the ‘Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival’. The Latin lyrics and melody are originally written in approx. 800 AD….   

For Planctus Cygni is written for solo soprano, Arabic vocalist, duduk/fujara or saxophone, harp and chamber-choir. The work is based on an anonymous Latin poem written in the Middle Ages, about a swan losing its way while flying over the sea. The swan gets lost, and of course panics while flying on for hours on end across the dark waters, getting very tired and afraid to drown, but in the end it reaches land and is happily saved. But this is not the land where it came from! So from now on the swan is an ‘exulata’, ‘al-manfa’, an exile.

When Gerard Beljon read Planctus Cygni, I immediately associated it with the refugee crisis whime have in Europe. Therefore to him, it was clear that the central theme for my Planctus Cygni composition would be the cultural differences between East and West, and how we can build mutual understanding by communication.

The prospect of mixing our Western notes with these beautiful Eastern ones was also very exciting to him
Festival November Music and the Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival have made that possible by both giving him commissions to compose Planctus Cygni. The result is a 30-minute score full of intriguing new music that offers a sea of possibilities and musical landscapes for soloists, choir and audience.

Beljon is convinced that communication between the different cultures in Europe is the only way to solve our problems: Concurrite omnia Alitum et conclamate Agmina: Join together, all winged creatures, and sing together all of you!

More info

The previous, short version of Planctus Cygni:

Kris Oelbrandt – Ignatius Cantata in the Krijtberg, Amsterdam

What would the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola sound like if they were to be sung? Kris Oelbrandt was confronted with this question when two Jesuits from the Old Abbey of Drongen passed by. They also had something to celebrate, namely 150 years of retreat home in Drongen, and commissioned him to set the Spiritual Exercises to music. The result was the Ignatius cantata, a piece for choir, baritone, guitar and ensemble. This cantata will now be performed at the Krijtberg in Amsterdam on June 9th…   

The baritone personifies Ignatius, accompanied by guitar because of the Spanish atmosphere. His vocals are something between speaking and singing, the so-called Sprechstimme. This technique makes it possible to make continuous text, prose (what the Spiritual Exercises are), lyrical by means of bends in the voice and rhythmic recitation. On expressive words he switches to “ordinary” vocals, which gives these words extra shine.

It was impossible to set the complete Exercises to music. That is why only the most concise sentences have been chosen, supplemented with texts from the Bible and tradition. The choir sings these other texts, accompanied by woodwinds. In this way, the textual augmentation (other texts being added) is supported by a musical augmentation (from baritone to choir).

Because of Ignatius’ universal ideas, the choice was made for world languages, namely Spanish and English.

The cantata consists of six parts: the four phases of the Spiritual Exercises, framed by an extensive prologue and a musing epilogue. The prologue focuses on the well-known text by Teresa of Avila, “What do You want to do with me?”: it expresses the central motive of in fact the entire Spiritual Exercises, namely surrender and trust. Each subsequent movement begins with a quote from the Exercises, which is complemented musically and textually by choir and ensemble. The epilogue is a song that combines and reconciles different themes from the cantata, just as the retreatant at the end of the retreat reconciles with Christ.

More info

Maxim Shalygin: premiere by the Amstel and Keuris Quartets

On June 29 the Amstel & Keuris Quartets will give the world premiere ‘Todos los fuegos el fuego’ of Maxim Shalygin. This work is a musical cycle that immerses the listener for one hour in a mystical act, sparking off the imagination and opening up unknown emotional conditions…   

Todos los fuegos el fuego for saxophone octet, composed by Maxim Shalygin, constitutes a mysterious and exciting link between music and literature. For the second chapter of the life-long Similar cycle (where the first one is Lacrimosa or 13 Magic Songs for 7 violins), Shalygin draws inspiration from ‘Todos los fuegos el fuego’, arguably the most enigmatic book by the great Cortázar. All short stories in this collection share an exit into a parallel, magic reality, sometimes near to ours, sometimes strikingly different from it. Their forms provoke peculiar musical dramaturgic solutions, whereas an abundance of pseudo-musical forms enables for the creation of a unique atmosphere, using an enlarged variety of performance techniques.

Suite’s overall structure consists of eight parts, performed by eight saxophone players — as many as there are stories in the book (and syllables in its title, which, incidentally, sounds like a saxophone phrase by itself). The saxophone is chosen for a reason, since, for all his knowledge and passion for music, jazz claimed the most of Cortázar’s attention. Jazz, and accordingly the sound of the saxophone was his muse and constant presence in many of his most well-known fiction. Moreover, the saxophone is involved in many mystical moments in music, literature, and, last but not least, cinema — a fascination Maxim shares with him as well.

Two of the Netherlands’ most exciting saxophone quartets join forces to perform this work on June 29th at the Zuiderstrandtheater. The Amstel Quartet and the Keuris Quartet will give this concert, as part of ‘Dag in de branding‘.


Amstel Quartet

Keuris Quartet

CD Dutch Piccolo Project by Ilonka Kolthof

Six works for piccolo (and piano) by six different composers will be put on CD by Ilonka Kolthof and Ralph van Raat. Consider to be partner of this great project…   

The Dutch Piccolo Project is founded by flautist and piccoloist Ilonka Kolthof. With this project, Ilonka wants to emphasize and bring to the limelight the piccolo as an autonomous solo instrument. Furthermore, she aims to contribute to the creation of a large-scale (inter)national canon of piccolo works.

During the past five years, six Dutch composers wrote wonderful new music for piccolo and piano. To celebrate this, Ilonka now wants to record those pieces on CD together with world-renowned pianist Ralph van Raat.

Please support the project…

Overview of the compositions

Jan-Peter de Graaff: Meccanica(2019) 7′ (work in progress…)
Allan Segall: The last cocktail… (2015) 8′
Bart Spaan: Halo (2014) 13′
Ned McGowan: Rickshaw Zip (2015) 9′
Piet-Jan van Rossum: Anemoon tot wolk (2014-15) 5′
Jan Vriend: Sonata for piccolo and piano (2018) 25′

Dutch Saxophone Octet will record Canto Ostinato

This year the Dutch Saxophone Octet exists for 5 years. Reason for a special project! Recording and releasing a CD with ‘Canto Ostinato’ of Simeon ten Holt has been on their wishlist for a number of years. Please support this debut CD. To make this jubilee year an extra large party, the CD presentation will take place in the Kleine Zaal of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on 12 November 2019…   

One of the first arrangements that the Dutch Saxophone Octet played was that of Canto Ostinato by Simeon ten Holt. Saxophonist Stefan de Wijs made the arrangement and received the approval of the heirs of Ten Holt.

Canto Ostinato consists of a carefully selected set of notes that develops through 8 mouths, along 16 hands and 80 fingers. In an organic way, rhythm and melody become more complex and again simple, noisier and again calm, emphatic and serene again. The musicians follow each other or take a different initiative in an apparently endless game.

Canto Ostinato is perhaps the most popular composition from the Netherlands. The piece is in the top ten of the Heart and Soul List of Radio 4 every year. In 2018 it was number five and the Dutch Saxophone Octet was invited to give a live performance during the Heart and Soul Festival in TivoliVredenburg. The fact that they received dozens of enthusiastic e-mails from listeners afterwards indicates how much this Canto of air and keys is appreciated.

Their adaptation of Canto Ostinato is unique and they are happy to share it with as many people as possible. Their Canto CD will be an addition to all existing Canto Ostinato recordings.

Support at Voordekunst

Brussels Philharmonic celebrates Frédéric Devreese turning 90!

Frédéric Devreese, the father of Belgian film music, turns 90 next year. Reason enough for Brussels Philharmonic and Flagey to honour this exceptional composer with a musical portrait on June 5th at Flagey…   

The importance of the works of Frédéric Devreese cannot be underestimated. As a film music composer he has made a name for himself with haunting scores for virtually all of André Delvaux’s films, including ‘Benvenuta’ and ‘L’Oeuvre au Noir’.

But his work is much broader than that: he has written four piano concertos, one violin concerto, a symphony, chamber music, two operas, ballet suites and lieder, and in 1983 he was commissioned to compose the compulsory work for the Queen Elizabeth Competition.

His piano concerto No. 4 has been performed by Ralph van Raat and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Otto Tausk.


  • Passage
  • Benvenuta Suite, No. 1
  • Piano Concerto No. 4
  • L’Œuvre au Noir, suite No. 2

Opening Concert of Nieuwe Noten Amsterdam

On Saturday, June 22th, Plein Theater will present the start of the Nieuwe Noten Amsterdam concert series. In this series for contemporary chamber music, works and ideas from composers and thinkers are presented…   

Composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven will present his interactive performance “Practical Heroism for each of us: the role of beauty, imagination and play in tackling wicked problems”. The performance is the result of Merlijn’s residency at Cultureland- Composer’s Treat 2019.
Dudok Quartet will perform ‘String quartet nr. 1‘ (1933) by K.A. Hartmann and ‘String quartet nr. 2‘ (1985) by Tristan Keuris.
Master students from Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Marta Fossas Mallorquí – cb, José Nunes – vla, Pau Sola Masafrets-vlc) will perform ‘If the river was whisky’ (2007) for string trio by Max Knigge

Concert series Nieuwe Noten Amsterdam
Every month Nieuwe Noten Amsterdam will host well-known ensembles and young musicians in an intimate setting. In every concert a special guest from science, visual arts and literature will join in. Curators and hosts of the series are bass clarinettist Fie Schouten and composer Aspasia Nasopoulou.

Join the Opening Concert of Nieuwe Noten Amsterdam on Saturday the 22nd of June 16:00h at Plein Theater Amsterdam.
Tickets and info

Aftab Darvishi

Aftab Darvishi (Tehran, 1987) started taking violin lessons when she was five. Later on the kamancheh (an Iranian bowed string instrument) and the piano followed. She studied music at the University of Tehran and composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, where her teachers included Martijn Padding and Yannis Kyriakides.

Aftab Darvishi started to play the violin when she was 5, As she grew older she got in touch with more instruments like Kamancheh (Iranian string instrument) and more specific with classical Piano.

Aftab has studied Music Performance at the University of Tehran, Composition at Royal Conservatory of The Hague and Composing for film-and at the same time- Karnatic Music (South Indian music) at Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Aftab has presented her music in various festivals in Europe and Asia working with various ensembles such as Kronos Quartet, Hermes ensemble and working with companies like World Lap Opera in many productions.

In 2014, Aftab was shortlisted for the 20th young composer meeting in Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and in 2015, she won the music education award from Listhus artistic residency to hold Music workshops for teachers at Music school of Fjallabyggd, Iceland.

She is a former member of KhZ ensemble; an experimental electronic ensemble with the supervision of Yannis Kyriakides that has performed in various festivals such as Holland festival.

Since 2015, She has been regularly invited as a guest lecturer to the University of Tehran.

In October 2016, She was awarded the prestigious Tenso Young Composers Award 2016 for her piece And the world stopped Lacking you… for a capella choir. In 2017, Aftab was commissioned by San Francisco’s Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet to write a piece for Fifty for the future: The Kronos Learning repertoire. A project devoted to the most contemporary approaches to the string quartet, designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.

She continued her collaboration with Kronos, with creating a new piece for Music for change- The Banned countries- A project as a direct protest to the 2017 executive orders limiting travel to the United States. With the support of Stanford University.

Petra Strahovnik wins prize of the International Rostrum of Composers

‘Prana’ (2018) by Slovenian composer Petra Strahovnik is the work selected by radio music producers participating in the 66th International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) held in San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina)…   

Pursuing its mission to promote contemporary music creation through broadcasting for over sixty years, the annual Rostrum has this year again strengthened its role as one of the most important “rendez-vous” for professional exchange between radio producers. Its overall objective remains to foster the exchange of performances of contemporary music between broadcasting organisations. For example, works chosen at the preceding Rostrum (2018) were given some 700 broadcasts by participating networks as well as affiliates of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The 2019 Rostrum gathered representatives from 27 national radio networks from four continents, which presented 50 works composed within the five years preceding the Rostrum. 19 of these works were by composers under the age of 30 and 17 by female composers. Evert van Berkel, recording producer and coordinator for P2 live at the Swedish Radio, chaired the sessions. After the listening sessions, the assembly of delegates selected and recommended the most distinctive works in two categories: general and “young composers under 30”.

These and other works will be presented in concerts and broadcast after the Rostrum by the participating and other interested radio stations.

In the general category, Prana (2018) for symphony orchestra by Slovenian composer Petra Strahovnik (born 1986) was selected by the delegates as most outstanding. The work was presented by RTV – Radio Slovenija.

The inspiration for this work stems from the idea of creating and capturing the atmosphere of attraction between two contrasting poles (e.g., magnetic resonance). The concept of capturing Prana as inspiration; in Hinduism, it represents the breath of the life force. Prana is understood as a universal energy that flows in currents in and around the body.

The RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra was prepared to experiment with new techniques and the use of preparations such as magnets on strings, polystyrene in the piano and harp, etc. The sound sculpture resulting from the basic use of these preparations is interesting and fresh, and the orchestra experimented with new techniques.

Don’t miss her intriguing project in The Hague with Ensemble Modelo62 called DisOrders. Read more…


070, Muziek achtâh de dùine…

In collaboration with the Netherlands Music Institute, Ciconia Consort brings a special Hague program with compositions by the legendary conductors Willem van Otterloo and Willem Mengelberg, who raised the Residentie Orchestra and the Concertgebouw Orchestra internationally to great heights in the 20th century. June 1st at the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague…   

Ciconia Consort and the Netherlands Music Institute have gathered manuscripts that were not previously published from the archive and publisher Donemus produced new editions of the works especially for this concert.

The Hague has a unique place in Dutch art history. Partly due to its position as a royal city and centre for international relations, art life in The Hague was the first to be open to international art movements such as rococo and art nouveau. Moreover, The Hague was the cradle of the innovative painters of the Hague School. Israëls, Mesdag and Weissenbruch have been influenced by French impressionism since 1860. And just like with writers such as Louis Couperus, composers were inspired by art and culture from the former Dutch East Indies. Constant van de Wall and Bernhard van den Sigtenhorst Meyer were influenced in their work by gamelan music.

Willem van Otterloo was the chief conductor of the Residentie Orchestra for many years. Both works of the program have only been heard once before. The famous Willem Mengelberg was the chief conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra in a music-loving The Hague, in the famous Diligentia concerts. His Sinfonietta for string orchestra was never fully performed in the Netherlands.

Orchestral works by Robert de Roos, who received composition lessons from Johan Wagenaar, Darius Milhaud and Sem Dresden, were regularly performed during his lifetime, especially by Willem van Otterloo with the Residentie Orchestra. After his death in 1976, his compositions were forgotten. His Sinfonia in due moti will have its world premiere on 1 June.

The Ciconia Consort gladly brings the public back to this heyday of classical music performance practice of The Hague in the 20th century and, in ‘070, music achtâh the dùine’, works together with Mengelberg-expert Frits Zwart, for some never before performed exclusive The Hague compositions.
The concert is presented by Maartje Stokkers. During the concert, she discusses with Frits Zwart the works and classical music performance practice of The Hague.

Frits Koeberg (1876-1961) – Serenata indarno
Willem van Otterloo (1907-1978) – Prelude, dans en epiloog voor klarinet en strijkorkest
Willem van Otterloo (1907-1978) – Passacaglia voor strijkorkest
Constant van de Wall (1871-1945) – Wajanglegende voor strijkorkest opus 25
Robert de Roos (1907-1976) – Sinfonia in due moti per orchestra d’archi wereldpremière
Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951) – Sinfonietta voor strijkorkest Nederlandse première