Jacob TV: Tallahatchie Concerto by Aachen Symphony Orchestra

On 28 February at 8pm the Aachen Symphony Orchestra will stream a performance of JacobTV’s Tallahatchie Concerto. The soloist is Asya Fateyev and the conductor is Conrad van Alphen…   

Jacques Ibert’s entertaining “Hommage à Mozart”, composed for the 200th birthday of the master, radiates cheerfulness and a touch of irony. The Dutch Jacob ter Veldhuis, praised as the “Andy Warhol of new music”, embarks on a “voyage of discovery for moments of beauty, bliss and ecstasy” in his Tallahatchie Concerto. Claude Debussy colored his Rhapsody with Spanish and Moorish melodies and rhythms. Bizet’s melodious First Symphony sparkles with temperament and originality.

An overview of the concert program:
Jacques Ibert: “Hommage à Mozart”
Jacob ter Veldhuis: Tallahatchie Concerto
Claude Debussy: Rhapsody for saxophone and orchestra
Georges Bizet: Symphony No. 1

The guest conductor is the internationally renowned Dutch conductor Conrad van Alphen, while the soloist is the young saxophonist Asya Fateyeva.

“Concert at home”

“Konzert zu Hause” is the new streaming portal for classical music from classicnl in cooperation with Theater und Sinfonieorchester Aachen. The current Corona measures make it impossible to experience classical concerts live in the concert hall. Yet it is precisely in these times that people’s need for classical music and concert experiences is at its greatest! For their audience, the Aachen Symphony Orchestra has therefore developed the platform “Concert at Home”.

By enjoying the concerts from home, one’s financial contribution also supports the Aachen Symphony Orchestra and enables them to continue this offer for their audience. Therefore, one may decide on the price for enjoying a concert: € 5,- € 10,- or € 15,-.

Tallahatchie Concerto

Acclaimed as the ‘Andy Warhol’ of new music, Dutchman Jacob Ter Veldhuis in his Tallahatchie Concerto, sets off on a voyage of discovery to moments of beauty, bliss and ecstasy. In 20 years’ time, this concerto has become a standard work among saxophone concertos. Soloists such as Arno Bornkamp, Branford Marsalis, Ties Mellema and Robert Buckland have included the work in their repertoire. It was on the desks of Radio Kamerorkest, Brno, Cincinnati, Dusseldorf, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestras, among others, while the wind band version has been performed by, among others, Branford with the US Navy Band.
There is also a piano extract, and versions for string quintet and piano or saxophone quartet and piano.

On 28 February at 8 pm one can look forward to the 4th symphony concert in the stream. Tickets are now available at the website of classicnl.

Celia Swart wins the Keep an Eye Production Prize

This Thursday, composer and visual artist Celia Swart will receive the Keep an Eye Production Prize. “With drawings and animation I can express my music even more powerfully.”…   

(photo by Karmit Fadael)

‘I want to tell the story of my isolation,’ says composer, saxophonist and visual artist Celia Swart (1994) about her latest work, which will premiere this summer at the classical outdoor festival Wonderfeel. She still has to write it, but the idea has won her the Keep an Eye Production Prize, which comes with a prize of €10.000. Following violinist Diamanda Dramm and multi-instrumentalist Akim Moiseenkov, Swart is the third winner of this prestigious prize.

The award was set up by the Keep an Eye Foundation and the Wonderfeel festival to give promising young makers the chance to turn their dreams into a complete stage production. A condition is that they seek cooperation with other disciplines – which is fine with the versatile Swart, who makes her own drawings and animations to accompany her compositions.

Commenting on her multidisciplinary approach, Swart says: “My ideas are often very narrative. I first write them down in words and then I make a mood board with Pinterest. If you type a word in there, you get all kinds of suggestions of pictures, and through those pictures it becomes clear to me: this atmosphere, these colours, this speed. I start composing from there. I have a strong visual image for my music and with drawings and animation, I can express that even more powerfully. But music is my main medium.”

Read the full article in the NRC…

Max Knigge: Maria Louise in het Princessehof

The son et lumière ‘Marie Louise’ becomes a sensory experience, combining video, music and light in a new and original work of art. Marie Louise will be on display at a unique historical site in the old town of Leeuwarden, the garden of the city palace where Marie Louise spent a large part of her life. The S&L sketches a modern portrait of a strong woman from earlier times: Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Princess of Orange-Nassau (1688-1765). The work consists of light and video projections on the façades of the Princessehof – the city palace – and newly for this occasion composed music….   

Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel, Princess of Orange-Nassau (1688-1765) came from an important noble German family. In 1709, at the age of 21, she married Johan Willem Friso of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, and Dutch Prince of Oranje. When Marie Louise was 23, her husband died unexpectedly. For twenty years she took over his duties as regent until her son reached adulthood. The continuity of the Oranje dynasty was thus guaranteed.

The refined combination of image, music and lighting will create a densification in the 15-minute work between multiple disciplines that will provide an innovative view of Marie Louise. Logic, facts and chronology will form material for a surprising and whimsical composition. We look at Marie Louise as she experienced herself and all the contradictions of the time. The video recordings are made especially for this S&L. They tell a history of the harshness of life in the 17th and 18th centuries in a modern way. A history in which, in addition to loss and loneliness, two essential aspects of Marie Louise’s life play an important part: there is room for poetry, beauty and zest for life. It will be the portrait of a strong woman who, in addition to her ruthless rigor, felt a great compassion for humanity. The music is recorded, but written in such a way that it can be performed as an independent work without the video film.

Composer Max Knigge and director Jos van Kan work closely together. Aspects of Marie Louise’s life are lit up in a new way. Objects from the Frisian museum and the Princessehof that have a direct relationship to Marie Louise and to the time and culture in which she lived are used in the film. In the video projections, the facade itself, the Marie Louise dining room that has been preserved behind that facade and the garden of the city palace will play an important role.

Performers and makers:

Ariane Schluter, actress
Noord Nederlands Orkest (NNO) conducted by Hans Leenders
Concept and direction: Jos van Kan
Composition: Max Knigge
Video art: Frouke ten Velden
Music Lighting: Koos de Vries
Curator: Marlies Stoter
Technical production and sound design: Remko Smids
Production and business management: Jojanneke Braam
Hairdressing and make-up: Arjen van der Grijn
Costume performance: National Theater, The Hague

Read more

Max Knigge at Donemus

Five star review for Willem Jeths: Ritratto, at the BBC Music Magazine

The editorial team of the BBC Music Magazine has given a 5 start review for Willem Jeths: Ritratto. This opera was released by Challenge Records…   

An invitation to an opera that promises a party is not to be sneezed at! As Willem Jeths discovers in his third music drama, Ritratto (Portrait), parties are an elegant way of introducing assorted characters, and a perfect excuse for bad behaviour. Think no further than Flora’s Party in La traviata, or more recently Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel.

Jeths and his librettist Frank Siera’s hostess is the fabulously rich Marchese Luisa Casati, who with the help of the early 20th-century avant-garde, including D’Annunzio, Diaghilev, Marinetti and Man Ray, intends to make herself a work of art. Unfortunately, the Great War marches through her salon, although Casati partly lives out her ambition by embellishing her portrait with her own eyes and breasts as it’s being painted by Romaine Brooks.

Kris Oelbrandt: Tibhirine Meditations for string quartet

During the Algerian civil war, 25 years ago this year, seven Trappist monks were abducted from Tibhirine Abbey and murdered: they had chosen to remain in their abbey despite the threat of terror and hatred and to work for peace and reconciliation between religions…   

Kris Oelbrandt, himself a Trappist monk and composer, dedicated a string quartet to their memory: the “Tibhirine Meditations”. In four movements, they meditate on aspects of martyrdom: loving one’s enemy, steadfastness, vulnerability and freedom.

The piece was written during the early days of the corona crisis. The harsh lockdown inspired the composer to develop a new method and style: the auditio divina. The extreme isolation and silence led him to reflect on the foundations of his compositional approach and what he wanted to base it on. He designed a system that lies midway between seriality and modality: by drastically limiting the number of possible harmonies and harmonic connections (modality) and at the same time using all possibilities equally within this space (seriality), he achieved a familiar and at the same time new melodic and sound world.

The term auditio divina refers to lectio divina: a very slow and attentive way of reading the Bible. Each word that speaks to one on an intuitive level – this can also be a very simple word like “go” or “here” – is stopped and allowed to penetrate the heart and mind. Auditio divina transposes this practice to music: very regularly there are silences. The music breaks up into chunks of a few seconds. In the pauses in between, the listener is given time to absorb what he hears and to allow it to enter at a deeper level. The theme of the murdered monks of Tibhirine lends itself particularly well to introducing this style of music for the first time.

Aftab Darvishi at the DoelenEnsemble

In its upcoming online concert, the DoelenEnsemble will focus on the Iranian/Dutch composer Aftab Darvishi. Her work distinguishes itself by its unusual combinations of instruments and music from different cultures, mostly inspired by singing. Especially for this concert, Darvishi has arranged two of her earlier compositions. Get to know her music and the two new pieces, in which movement plays an important role….   


Aftab Darvishi composed Plutone for a performance with three dancers, directed by Elisabetta Consonni. The music for this performance was entirely electronic. Consonni describes Plutone’s performance as an experience following a vipassana meditation, ‘as an opportunity to reflect on the relationship with the world, made of delicate balances between the inner self and the outside’. The title refers to the dwarf planet Pluto. Floating in the last zone of our solar system, according to Consonni it is an invisible, but also powerful planet. Pluto asks the ego to empty itself of all needs to appear, of all the paranoia of power and of all false structures.

Live Instruments

About two years ago, Darvishi decided to make a Plutone version in which the dance was accompanied by live instruments. But then came the corona crisis, which turned all modes of performance upside down. ‘Considering the new situation, unfortunately, we were unable to have the dancers and we decided to go with the music. The new setup was puzzling because this time music had to speak alone and by itself.’ For the new purely instrumental version, Darvishi searched for a sense of infinity and boundlessness in the music. Like a movement that never stops. A concept that is so relevant to this time: Future and how to connect to it.

A thousand butterflies

Darvishi originally composed A thousand butterflies for alto saxophone and piano, a work inspired by and dealing with immigration as a phenomenon. The title refers to thousands of people who migrate, as well as their individual experiences. ‘I chose 1000 butterflies as title because I think immigration is such a personal and versatile experience. It has as many versions as the individuals who have experienced it. I see this versatility like the countless colours and shapes the butterflies present. I also really like the idea that butterflies fly freely without any boundary or limit.’ Like Plutone, constant movement is an important element of this composition, also brought into focus by the video accompanying the composition.

New arrangement

For the DoelenEnsemble concert, Darvishi has arranged A thousand butterflies for clarinet and piano. The work takes 10 minutes and consists of three parts. The piano and clarinet have a musical conversation on different levels. In different phases, the music reflects on the journey, the movement of people, and the ever-changing concept of a home. Darvishi says: ‘I think the concept of “Home” in today’s world is constantly changing. Where is home? Is it one’s birthplace? Is it the place where we make a family? Is it the place where we feel we belong? There is not one home, but the concept of a ‘home’ is in our heads. This idea moves with us wherever we go.’

More info

Aftab Darvishi at Donemus

Jan-Peter de Graaff: Cello Concerto written for Maya Fridman and NNO

Concerto Nº 5 “The Forest in April” is the fifth concerto in a series of solo concertos that Jan-Peter de Graaff is currently composing, and his second cello concerto, the first one being “Rimpelingen”. The piece has been composed for cellist Maya Fridman, who proposed the concerto in 2018. “The Forest in April” was commissioned by the Noord Nederlands Orkest and has been realised with financial support from Fonds Podiumkunsten…   

The title of the concerto came originally from a piece by Richard Ayres (“In the Alps”) which opens with a long list of God’s creations from the beginning of time. One of them was “The Forest in April”, which directly triggered a sound world in the mind of the composer, of trees budding, insects chirping, birds whistling, all accompanied by a cool breeze of western wind. As the traditional classical concept of a Solo Concerto deals a lot with imitation or dialogue between the soloist and orchestra, and given the fact that the current state of our world is shaped or influenced by humanity, this solo concerto became a metaphor for the relationship between humanity and nature.

In this concerto, the soloist can be viewed as the human, exploring and shaping the natural environment, which is portrayed by the orchestra that first just ‘is’, but then gradually starts to imitate, mutate and finally collapse due to the influence the soloist has on its behaviour.

Three movements

The first movement is called “The Forest” and is a portrait of a bustling natural environment, winking its way with many references to composers trying to mimic bird sounds (like Beethoven, Stravinsky or Messiaen), where the soloist first ‘wanders’ into, but gradually starts to have an impact as the orchestra slowly starts to imitate her lines in very subtle ways, creating a musical ‘vortex’, resulting in a climax, directly followed by a miniature cadenza, after which the soloist seams to ‘sear over’ the orchestra. The orchestra plays smaller and smaller chromatic patterns that flow together as one chromatic texture. The soloist plays (and sings!) a tender lullaby over this environment which seems to dissolve in a gentle mist of string sounds.

The second movement, entitled “The Echo Chamber”, starts with a 4-minute-long cadenza, where the soloist explores, mocks and develops all previously ‘found’ musical material into a spicy mix that both references big romantic cello concertos of Dvorak and Elgar as well as the place the cello nowadays has in some contemporary rock music formats. The main section starts with a distinctive repeated quintuplet motive that quickly takes over the full orchestra from low to high. More and more, the orchestra starts to get impacted by the notes the soloist plays and repeats these notes back, but in a more distorted fashion, mutating per repetition. As in a process of natural selection, the distorted and mutated variants of the repeated motives start to become more dominant than the soloist. The soloist realises this and tries to bring back the bird sounds from the beginning, but the orchestra has mutated into a threatening dark ‘wall of sound’, echoing, distorting and mutating further and further, despite the efforts of the soloist.

The last movement, titled “Requiem”, starts with the sound that represents burning wood. The soloist has disappeared. When the orchestra still repeats some of the motives from the second movement, the soloist makes a last attempt at restoring the peace and quiet of the first movement by mimicking bird sounds again. At this moment the soloist has been transformed as well, playing on a cello with a detuned lower string. Realising the orchestral environment has been changed permanently, the soloist starts to play something from another world, another time: a lamenting folk song in a 13/4 beat pattern. The orchestra implodes. Like a tree losing all its dead leaves in one strong blow of the wind, the orchestra seems to disappear in a dark cloud, while the soloist continues to play her folk song. Gradually more and more instrumental lines disappear, until only a plucked string quartet keeps accompanying the folk song. More and more notes seem to vanish from both the solo and the accompaniment, until even these last players dissolve into the air, together with the soloist. However, one little bird (in the form of the piccolo) from the first movement has returned, adding notes that seem to complement the last pizzicato notes before they dissolve.

More info

Jan-Peter de Graaff at Donemus

Lito Thomou performs 8 Piano Preludes of Grigoris Grigoriou

On March 8th Donemus Records will release the 8 Piano Preludes by composer Grigoris Grigoriou, performed by Lito Thomou. The virtuosic pianistic interpretation of the soloist Lito Thomou boosts this piano work by the Greek composer of new generation, Grigoris Grigoriou…   

Grigoris Grigoriou works in the field of contemporary orchestral music. Born into an artistic family, his involvement with music definitely shows his natural evolution. From the first sound, his works attract the listeners’ interest, even if someone is not familiar or has studied serious music.

Grigoriou’s Piano Preludes 1–5 were written in 2005. The remaining 3 Preludes were composed in 2020. These preludes are virtuosic works that offer a wide variety of colors and pianistic performing technics.

Pianist Lito Thomou

Lito Thomou graduated at the age of seventeen from the Greek National Conservatory in Athens with First Prize and Medal for Outstanding Performance. She continued her studies with Constantin Ganev and Julia Ganeva in Sofia (Bulgaria) and with Germaine Mounier at Ecole Normale de Musique, in Paris (France), where she graduated with a Diplome Superieur d’ Execution de Piano with the highest distinction. She was decorated in international piano competitions Concorso Pianistico Giovani Pianisti (in Marsala, Italy), Albert Roussel (Sofia) and Guilde (in Paris). Lito has appeared as soloist with orchestras, in chamber music concerts and solo recitals in many European countries (Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ukraine). She has recorded for the Greek, Bulgarian, Ukrainian television and Radio, and presented in world premiere various works by Greek and foreign composers. In this context she has worked with the ensemble ‘Skalkottas’, with the Greek Composers Union, with the Orchestra of Colours and Camerata Orchestra.

Michael Fine: Chamber Symphony in Prague

Michael Fine’s Chamber Symphony for eleven orchestra soloists started with a jazzy trumpet solo idea that began playing in his head and wouldn’t let go till he wrote it down and gave it a context. This expanded into four movements with challenging solos for each instrument…   

Those who have heard it recognized the influence of the neo-classical Stravinsky; a friend of Darius Milhaud’s widow who heard the piece thought Fine was channeling Milhaud. The score was successfully premiered in 2019 with an all-star group of instrumentalists, under the direction of Scott Yoo. Fine was particularly pleased when Emmanuel Villaume offered to give the piece its European debut with the Prague Philharmonia, a superb ensemble that he has been producing recordings with for thirty years.

The performance was scheduled in the Philharmonia’s prestigious Lobkowicz Castle series, but had to be postponed twice due to COVID restrictions. Michael Fine was touched by the Maestro’s and orchestra’s commitment to the piece as it was quickly rescheduled for their first streaming concert of the New Year, opening a program which will also include music by Mozart, Wagner, and Richard Strauss. Excellent company.

More info

Intercontinental Ensemble: Project with Bianca Bongers, Sarah Neutkens and more

The Intercontinental Ensemble combines the best of chamber and orchestral music. They broaden the repertoire for nonet through arrangements of symphonies and new compositions. With nine musicians from all over the world, they create the illusion that one is listening to a full orchestra…   

Many of their concerts were canceled in 2020. They used this period to create and study new works. They now want to share all this new music with their audience through two CDs. One CD will be recorded in March 2021, the second in the summer of 2021. The first CD focuses on old and new works by female composers: From Clara Schumann and Louise Farrenc to the contemporary composers Bianca Bongers, Aregnaz Martirosyan and Sarah Neutkens. The second CD focuses on optimism and life energy, with works by Nino Rota, Martinu and their own adaptation of Mendelssohn’s Italian symphony. For this project they started a crowdfunding.

Purpose of the crowdfunding:
The International Ensemble is planning to record the two CDs at the TRPTK label. TRPTK pays 50% of the withdrawal costs. Through crowdfunding they hope to cover the remaining 50%, which means 6 days of recording, editing, but also the artwork and distribution of these two CDs.

Your support makes more music possible!
The ensemble offers their contributors the following options:
The finished albums, tickets for the release concerts later this year, an exclusive listening session and even a private living room or garden concert.

You can help us by donating at Voordekunst.

Project Page at Voordekunst