Petra Strahovnik wins prize of the International Rostrum of Composers

‘Prana’ (2018) by Slovenian composer Petra Strahovnik (born 1986) 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 musicians were willing to keep up with the times and prepare their instruments.

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


070, Muziek achâh 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 ready 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 Orkest. 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 eighth 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

Hana Ajiashvili new opera – consider to donate!

Donemus is excited to announce the world premier stage production of the opera of Hana Ajiashvili called ‘Cut Glass’, which will be featured at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival, Tel Aviv, in March 2020…   

Cut Glass – a chamber opera based on a Scott Fitzgerald’s short story about the collapse of an American middle class family – was commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund and had its first concert performance in April 2018 in Tel Aviv by the Meitar Ensemble conducted by Yuval Zorn and received very well.

It became clear from the start that this was a unique event in the Israeli Contemporary Music scene, and the audience as well as the press praised Hana Ajiashvili’s unique writing style, which is both adventurous in its soundscapes, it’s unique use of instrumentation and of the singing voice, and at the same time warm, direct, accessible and above all: theatrical”. Following the concert, Amir Mandel (Ha’arets Magazine’s music critic) commented that “a piece of such quality must not disappear”.

In order to give the piece the future life it deserves, Hana Ajiashvili and the musicians of the Meitar Ensemble, with conductor Yuval Zorn have teamed up with award winning librettist, Royce Vavrek, as well as eminent director Omer Ben Seadia in order to revise the libretto and bring the piece to a fully staged performance.

Shortly after its first concert performance, the team was approached by the Felicja Blumental Festival, performing annually at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, to premier the new version of the piece in March 2020. It will be the world premiere stage production of the opera.

To realize this staged performance your help is needed. Please consider to donate and be a partner to the premiere of this opera.

Looking forward to seeing you at the staged world premiere of the opera “Cut Glass” by Hana Ajiashvili in March 2020, in Tel Aviv!

Aftab Darvishi at the Holland Festival 2019

On June 5 and 6 the new opera ‘Turan Dokht’ of Aftab Darvishi will be performed at the Holland Festival in the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ. The libretto is written by Miranda Lakerveld. Read more about this very intriguing opera…   

The opera Turan Dokht (‘Daughter of Turan’) corrects a historical inaccuracy. Composer Aftab Darvishi and director Miranda Lakerveld’s ‘intercultural rewriting’ of Puccini’s beloved opera Turandot (1924) returns the title character to her Persian homeland. In Puccini’s work she is a cruel Chinese princess who has all her suitors decapitated. The mystical Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209) reveals that she was actually a queen of Turan. With this epic narrative and Puccini’s music in mind, the young Iranian Aftab Darvishi composed new music blended with authentic Iranian elements. Nilper Orchestra, the only chamber orchestra for new music in Iran, and mezzo soprano Ekaterina Leventhal in the title role will show Turan’s daughter as you have never heard or seen her before.

The opera Turan Dokht by Iranian composer Aftab Darvishi and director/librettist Miranda Lakerveld is set in 5th-century Persia. A prince intends to choose a wife out of seven princesses, each of whom has a pavilion in a different colour. The red princess tells the story of Turan Dokht, presenting him with riddles to test his self-knowledge and moral virtue. This story forms part of the epic poem Haft Peykar (‘The Seven Beauties’) written by the 12th-century Persian mystic and scholar Nizami Ganjavi. It’s a mystical frame narrative in which the symbolism of the number seven plays a key role. The protagonist in the beloved opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini is based on this princess but, inspired by Carlo Gozzi’s version of the story, librettists Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni moved the story to China and made Turandot into a vengeful princess who kills her suitors. In Turan Dokht, composer Darvishi and librettist Lakerveld bring Turandot back to her origins. Where the princess in the Puccini opera is a female Bluebeard, Turan Dokht is about an inner search for self-knowledge and humility. Puccini had already combined Eastern and Western elements in his opera. Darvishi, who was born in Iran and completed her music education in the Netherlands, takes this one step further. Her music for the Nilper Orchestra, which is complemented by Iranian percussion and a kamancheh (an Iranian bowed string instrument), is based on Western tonality, but with flourishes derived from Iranian music. Darvishi’s use of repetition gives voice to the mystical aspects of Nazimi’s text. The performance includes projections created by Siavash Naghshbandi based on the miniature paintings illustrating Haft Peykar.

More info & Tickets

Read the article (Dutch) in the Groene Amsterdammer

Website Aftab Darvishi

World premiere Chiel Meijering by Kathleen McLean

On July 15, Kathleen McLean will be premiering Chiel Meijering’s concerto ‘Highlander’s Farewell’ for bassoon and strings (2017/revised 2019) at the International Double Reed Conference in Tampa, Florida. This piece was dedicated to her and the title refers to her Scottish roots. The piece is filled with Celtic ideas as well as pop and minimalist elements and references to old composers all part of McLean’s musical background…   

Bassoonplayer Kathleen McLean studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and started her career as principal bassoonist with the Toronto Symphony before moving to Indiana where she now teaches as bassoon professor of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She has performed with famous orchestras like the London Symphony, Boston Symphony, World Orchestra for Peace. She has worked with some of the greatest composers and conductors during her career including Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, Pierre Boulez, Valery Gergiev, Witold Lutoslawski, Krsysztof Penerecki, Essa Pekka Salonen, Peter Eotvos, Elliot Carter, John Adams to name a few.

She is a member of Canada’s most acclaimed chamber music ensembles, Octagon and has been a founding member of the Toronto Wind Quintet, Caliban Bassoon Quartet and has made several recordings with these ensembles as well as solo recording “Nightsongs” featuring commissions of several Canadian composers of chamber music for bassoon and the Accordes String QuartetHer career focus is now mostly on solo and chamber music performances and she is an advocate of promoting and commissioning and recording new pieces by living composers.

Kathleen also is recently delving into other genres of music and has made recordings in collaboration with Chiel Meijering 5 new CD’s of electro pop tracks as featured artist. This month, she will be performing in Indianpolis as a member of the back up band for the rock band The Who which takes the instrument into a whole new direction in the pop world. Kathleen was attracted to Meijering’s music, one of Holland’s leading composers who has added to the Donemus collection an enormous amount of new works written for the bassoon (over 120 works).

Starting in 2016, McLean approached Meijering about writing a piece for a recording project she had in mind while on a sabbatical in 2016. Meijering began reworking some of his recorder concertos for bassoon and strings and then was inspired to carry on with original works for the instrument because of McLean’s enthusiasm and her international success. She liked the combined elements in his style of  elements of rock and pop along with minimalism, fold and influences by the old great masters. His writing style aesthetically struck her immediately and was very interested in commissioning new pieces in order to give the bassoon a sexy place as a virtuosic solo instrument on concert stages.

This has developed in a highly productive collaboration between Chiel Meijering and Kathleen McLean over the last two years, producing high energy, provocative, and appealing pieces for the instrument, several recordings and performance premieres of these already produced. The mutual inspiration between McLean and Meijering continues with several new performances and projects planned for the future. So much music, yet to be performed. She is certain that she will never be able to perform all of these works in her lifetime and it is her mission to perpetuate this magical outpouring of Meijering’s bassoon masterworks onto the concert stages of future generations of players.

It is without a doubt, that Chiel Meijering has made a historic and monumental contribution to the world of double reeds. On July 15, Kathleen McLean will be premiering Meijering’s concerto Highlander’s Farewell for bassoon and strings (2017/revised 2019) at the International Double Reed Conference in Tampa, Florida. This piece was dedicated to her and with the title, refers to her Scottish roots. The piece is filled with Celtic ideas as well as pop and minimalist elements and references to old composers all part of McLean’s musical background. McLean will also be premiering a new woodwind trio dedicated to her by Meijering in mid June, 2019 in Toronto Canada and there are also plans to play a Meijering octet with the Octagon ensemble in Canada on their next Ontario tour in November 2019,

For more information about Kathleen McLean

Chiel Meijering

Support the Dutch Saxophone Octet with Canto Ostinato by Simeon ten Holt

A debut CD of the Dutch Saxophone Octet with Canto Ostinato by Simeon ten Holt in the unique arrangement for eight saxophonists. This year the Dutch Saxophone Octet exists for 5 years. Reason for a special project. Recording and releasing a CD has been on our wish list for a number of years…   

Consider to  support them 
Renting the recording location, recording, post-processing, shaping and pressing the CD costs a lot of money. With a donation we can make this project a success. The Saxophone Octet would like to give something in return. On the right-hand side of the crowdfunding page at Voordekunst of the page one will find nice gifts such as a signed CD and for the true Canto connoisseurs: adopt the favorite section!

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. The octet would be happy to treat their sponsors to a live performance by Canto Ostinato.

About the Dutch Saxophone Octet
The Dutch Saxophone Octet was founded in Amsterdam in 2014 by a group of recently graduated saxophonists who wanted to look beyond the saxophone quartet. With the sopranino and bass saxophone and all sizes of saxophones in between, they as an ensemble have a wide range that lends itself to interesting arrangements from chamber music works to symphonies. For example, they received permission from the Schönberg Foundation to arrange and play Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht. They also regularly work with composers on contemporary music. They premiered Via Dolorosa by Bernard van Beurden and contributed to a major project in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. In the Netherlands they were guests at a variety of festivals such as the Grachtenfestival, Wonderfeel, Festival Classique, Mañana Mañana, Uitgast and CityProms.

Canto Ostinato
One of the first arrangements that the 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 the octet is happy to share it with as many people as possible. Their Canto CD will be an addition to all existing Canto Ostinato recordings.

Thank you very much for your help!

More info and donations

Hans Kox, central composer at the Orlando Festival 2019

Hans Kox (1930-2019) will be the central composer of Orlando 2019. A choice of about two hours from his rich chamber music oeuvre will be performed. Hans Kox died on Monday 25 February at the age of 88 in his hometown Haarlem. Henk Guittart, artistic Director of the Orlando Festival, talked with Hans Kox about the festival and about his works that will be performed there. Unfortunately Hans Kox can’t join the great upcoming concerts in Rolduc…   

Henk Guittart:

In the national press Hans Kox was described as a composer of great importance to us, a great professional who wrote expressive music with international allure. It was also referred to how much he – as unfortunately is customary – was underestimated in his own country, and how he was seriously damaged in the seventies, by what can be considered a destructive attack on his composing on the part of the press and some of his colleagues. However, Kox did not allow himself to be silenced, and until recently he composed a beautiful and rich oeuvre. Many CDs bear witness to his importance.

Kox also found brilliant advocates in the recent past, such as the Jenufa Quartet, the Attacca label by Sieuwert Verster, conductor Jaap van Zweden, ZaterdagMatinee and many others.

For me there were many reasons to make him the central composer of our 2019 edition. First of all the quality of his rich chamber music oeuvre, the many instrumental scorings that were suitable for us, and certainly it was also a modest attempt to compensate a little for the general underestimation and undervaluation.

Unlike my friendship with the previous central composers, Jonathan Dove and Louis Andriessen, I hardly knew Kox personally.

After a few days of personal contact in the 70’s, when I played the viola in the War Requiem of Britten under his direction, as a guest in the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, for a week of which I have beautiful memories, I was very moved by our contact on the valuable Sunday afternoon of February 10, when we talked about his beautiful and important chamber music. It was a happy and joyful afternoon, and I was very impressed by his cheerfulness and his powerful optimism.

We talked about programming about two and a half hours of his music, and I am grateful that he has explained his preferences. I would have liked so much that he would experience this tribute optimally, with the serious performances on Orlando by fantastic musicians, hopefully resulting in a beautiful Hans Kox CD. I also looked forward to, and with me the seven young masterclass musicians I had already informed, the performance of the piano quartets and the piano trio in Haarlem, even before the summer.

I speak on behalf of the Orlando musicians when I say that we will miss Hans enormously this summer, and I assure you that we will work hard to make a nice tribute to him, with the choice of 14 compositions from his chamber music, covering a period of 56 years of his composing.

In the words of music journalist Bas van Putten: “His beautifully executed scores bear witness to an intense melodic talent – everything sings, including the instrumental – and ditto technical refinement. It is dynamic, restless music, with extreme contrasts between motoric rigour and hymnic lyricism, ostinato and liberamente. Traditional music too, thought in terms of thematic-motivic development, melody and accompaniment, harmony and counterpoint. Conceived in the context of a strongly expanded, but always tangible tonal background.

Project ‘Rainbow’ by Aftab Darvishi at Operadagen R’dam

‘Rainbow’ is a hybrid project by two remarkable artists from Iran who have both been in Belgium and the Netherlands for a long time: Nazanin Fakoor created an extremely sensory light installation enriched with live vocal sound landscapes from the SWARA Vocal Ensemble, in a composition by Aftab Darvishi. Their music-theatrical installation transports the listener to the mystical text of the 12th-century Persian poet Attar and at the same time invites to reflect on one own’s layers…   

The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar inspired the Iranian artist Nazanin Fakoor to create Rainbow around the idea that ‘national identity’ is a myth. The Belgian Swara Ensemble plays the music of the Iranian composer Aftab Darvishi in a mobile installation that – literally – reflects our multifarious identities.

concept, staging, installation en text: Nazanin Fakoor
composition: Aftab Darvishi

Swara Vocal Ensemble with Ivan Yohan

Marion Bauwens, soprano
Sarah Verhoeven, soprano
Anna Nuytten, mezzo-soprano
Imogen Streul, mezzo-soprano
Hendrik Mispelon, tenor
Kevin Skelton, tenor
Dody Soetanto, baritone
Andrés Soler Castaño, bass

voice: Anne Gordon, Nazanin Fakoor
Children’s voice: Ella Jafari

Article at the Theaterkrant (Dutch)

More info & tickets

Katarzyna Głowicka – Unknown, I Live With You

Operadagen Rotterdam presents the Dutch premiere of the project ‘Unknown, I Live With You’ by composer Katarzyna Głowicka and stage Krystian Lada. Inspired by Afghan female writers’ poems, this project amplifies the basic human right to freely tell one’s own story. This new version uses the dramatic power of opera with the impact of socially engaged art in an unusual, immersive format. It involves opera singers, dancers, a string quartet and live electronica in a staged opera installation…  

In Taliban-held Afghanistan, writing, and any form of musical expression, has been considered a crime. The poems by three contemporary Afghan female writers are at the heart of this project. Roya, Meena Z., Fattemah AH and Freshta are participants of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP). AWWP was founded in 2009 in order to encourage Afghani women to develop their voices and write their own narratives, striving to change the narrative of women’s rights in Afghanistan in the process. Through AWWP, Afghan women have a direct voice in the world, not filtered through husbands, relatives or the media. Most of the writers participate in the project secretly. Their poems are raw, often devastating, and always brave in depicting the live under the niqab. Their writings convey a very universal story – the one of the female voice that strive for freedom in the patriarchal society. Read an essay by one of our writers here.

The Polish composer Katarzyna Głowicka explores the junctions between extended techniques of operatic voice and the dramatic potential of live electronics. The emotionality of the folk-inspired melodies meets minimalism of form. It expresses the harshness of the living circumstances of the Afghani writers but as well the power of the female voice striving for emancipation. Sung by a collective of three singers who represent different visions of female/ male dynamics and potential of the human voice. Three strong women create the cast of the performance: the Polish opera diva Malgorzata Walewska, the American star of young generation Raehann Bryce-Davis and the transsexual opera singer Lucia Lucas. Three soloists will be accompanied by the musicians from a string quartet. The musical direction of the project is in hands of the pianist and vocal coach Pedro Beriso who works for the Flemish Opera.

The immersive form of the performance invites the audience to share the space with the performers. The audience is invited to move through the set. The entire performance takes several hours and is constructed of repeating loops, allowing a free flow of the audience through the installation.

Info & tickets
Katarzyna Głowicka at Donemus

Album Release “Canti d’inizio e fine” Maya Fridman – Maxim Shalygin

Maxim Shalygin composed ‘Canti d’inizio e fine’ – for a solo performer who can feel, play, sing, scream, moan, swear, breathe, squeal, whisper, bleat, hiss, dream. Maya Fridman gave many performances of this work on cello and recorded it. Available at TRPTK…   

“Rend your clothes, you all, sprinkle your head with ashes, run through the streets and dance in madness”.
Rabbi Jakub Szulman in a letter, January 1942

The Canti consists of six songs, each representing an imaginary folder in the Holocaust victims directory, called after a segment of the German alphabet, and assigned to one out of six Angels of Death: Gabriel, Mashhit, Kapziel, Azrael, Abaddon, and Michael. The epilogue, Todesfuge, inspired by the eponymous poem by Paul Celan, combines mysteriously compelling imagery with rhythmic variations and structural patterns that are both elusive and pronounced, thus masterfully depicting horror and death in a concentration camp.

For each song Maxim Shalygin developed a special technique. He uses the uncommon BACH.Bow in some parts and Maya Fridman’s beautiful voice in the epilogue. In her performance of Canti d’inizio e fine, Fridman focuses her attention on the experience of time and sounds as they slowly undergo sublime transformations.

More info and order here

“Canti d’inizio e fine”; official Album Release:
Oosterkerk, Amsterdam
Friday 21st June | 20:00