Skip to content

Holland Festival throws open the doors and gets fresher than ever #hf15

Just over a month earlier than usual, the Holland Festival is presenting its new programme this season. There is every reason for this. With the arrival of Ruth Mackenzie as artistic director, a fresh wind is blowing through the festival. Annet Lekkerkerker talks about the changes in the video below.

The presentation of the brochure - finally readable thanks to a new design - shows that the doors are being thrown open. The festival kicks off on 30 May with two free events. All Imitate-Act (a co-production with the Stedelijk Museum) by Liam Gillick consists of a large number of panels in Museum Square. They show paintings by Oskar Schlemmer, Kazimir Malevich and others. There are holes in them. By sticking your head into one of these holes, you can merge into this art universe in a special way. Gillick calls the event "populistic" but "very serious at the same time". The panels will remain in place throughout the festival. Also free is the digital opening party House in your house. Highly original and of our time: just get into a party mood at home via smartphone or tablet with d.j.'s, music and a light show. You do have to download an app for it, though.

With these free events, Ruth Mackenzie aims to attract the widest possible audience to the festival. She is convinced that the programme appeals to far more people than people usually think. It is, in the words of Liam Gillick, a matter of 'buzz': 'I first came into contact with art through the free fringe programmes of big fstivals. Those offered the opportunity to get into the atmosphere without me having to make an effort.'

But doors are also thrown open in another respect. Innovation while respecting tradition has been the starting point in putting together the festival. Mackenzie has a particularly good sense of this. She has put together an extraordinarily versatile international programme in which artists use new ideas, combinations and theatrical means to show how the world could be different from what it is. Boundaries between art disciplines seem to be a thing of the past. In many ways, Mackenzie breaks patterns familiar from previous editions of the festival.

For the first time, the programme includes a 'Proms'. The 'Proms' are a popular phenomenon in the UK: a month of top orchestras and top artists at the Royal Albert Hall, for a ridiculously low price. Here, we do them in 12 hours. Renowned companies perform in the empty hall of the Concertgebouw. There are no chairs, except on the balcony for those who would rather just sit anyway. Standing and the cleared hall should make visitors feel freer than usual at a concert. You can go wherever you want, move along with the music or even let it lull you to sleep. The plan is to make the 'Proms' a tradition in the Holland Festival.

Unusual is The End, a Japanese pop opera by Keiichiro Shibuya. This manga-multimedia total experience centres on Hatsune Miku: a world star, but also nothing more than a computer programme with a synthetic voice and a holographic appearance. He concept of 'live' thus takes on a new dimension.

Unusual is also As big as the city, a grand musical theatre production by Arnoud Noordegraaf. It has been at the Holland Festival before, but now it brings to life the cultural tension between the West and fast-developing China. The story is about a Dutch architect, who realises a mega-project on the site of a small Chinese village, and embarks on a love affair with a Chinese opera singer. He falls for her traditional appearance, but she turns out to be a modern businesswoman, embracing the Western way of life. Noordegraaf managed to involve famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei for the set design.

Turkey is remarkably richly represented, with no fewer than six performances, ranging from the company Kardes Türküler, joined by renowned pop stars Candan Erçetin ("The Turkish Anouk") and Dutch-based Karsu Dönmez, evoking the atmosphere and sounds of old Istanbul on the Bosphorus, to a combination of classical Sufi repertoire and hypnotic pop by the ensemble Al-Kindi. The festival aims to honour the close ties created by immigration between the Netherlands and Turkey.

From a new and playful side, the Holland Festival shows itself in the project Save the bassoon!. Fewer and fewer people are choosing to play this instrument. This is where the project aims to do something about it. Eight composers were commissioned to compose a work for bassoon. During the presentation of the brochure, bassoonist Thomas Dulfer played a work by Dutch Composer Willem Jeths as a taster and convinced that the instrument with its deep melancholic tones should indeed be saved from extinction.

The choreographer couple Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten are showing for the first time a work for both the dance companies they currently lead: ICK Amsterdam and Ballet Nationale de Marseille dance Extremalism. With this, Greco and Scholten celebrate their 20-year collaboration. The choreography is highly topical. It is about the body of the hurried man in a tired state.

There is much more to mention. The brochure contains so many unusual performances that it is hard for participating groups and artists to stand out anymore.

More than in previous years, the Holland Festival aims to do more to broaden and deepen its programme. A separate brochure with the 'context programme' will be published in April. Workshops, introductions, conferences, master classes, debates, meetings with artists, educational programmes and afterparties will be organised around many of the festival's performances. This extra programme also shows that we are facing a particularly rich edition of the Holland Festival.

Maarten Baanders

Free-lance arts journalist Leidsch Dagblad. Until June 2012 employee Marketing and PR at the LAKtheater in Leiden.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)