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Wonderfeel successful despite summer storm

Three days of classical music among the trees and cows. Festival Wonderfeel presented a unique classical music festival last weekend from 24 to 26 July, under the smoke of 's-Graveland. Top musicians from home and abroad gave dozens of concerts. Lectures were given and, as befits a festival, there was also plenty to eat, drink and lounge around.

From the first day of this festival in nature an impression. Which can be called successful. Whether the heavily sponsored Wonderfeel will have a sequel remains to be seen, as the second day was cancelled due to summer storms and the third day was not without rain showers either.

Organisers of Wonderfeel George Mutsaerts (known for the International Chamber Music Festival Schiermonnikoog) and Tamar Brüggemann of Holland Baroque Society hoped to attract a wide audience with the festival. It was intended for visitors who already love classical music, but also for beginners. An excellent concept. The concerts were easily accessible; if you didn't like the performance, you simply moved on to the next one. You didn't have to sit through a performance for long either, because a concert didn't last longer than 45 minutes. You could even leave during the performance. Very 'Lowlands-like'.

Impression July 24. Motorists could park their car in a farmer's meadow via his yard. Just cross the road and you arrived at the entrance to Wonderfeel on the Schaep en Burgh estate. I was given a festival band. Now I totally belonged. On location The Field was musical theatre company Sax & Stix and Toeac. A fantastic combo of acrobatics, accordion music, clarinet, saxophone and a percussionist dressed as a cook doing his thing behind his 'cooking cooker'. It looked fun dynamic and especially sweaty.

Via bone-dry and dusty footpaths through the forest to the Quartet tent for the Dudok Quartet's performance. This round tent has a wooden floor and a round, raised stage in the middle. Designed by Dré Wapenaar. If you sat along the side, you looked up. If you sat around the stage, you had your back to the musicians and could not see anything.

Even before the foursome began, the audience was told that the concert was being recorded live for Radio4 and to be quiet. A strange and contradictory sensation. Surely these musical performances in nature are supposed to be unrestricted? 'Dudok' played parts from the Fifth string quartet by Dimitri Shostakovich. A heavy and weighty piece with wry notes that was expertly played. Then two arranged intermezzi By Johannes Brahms. The wooden floor worked as a reinforcing sound floor for the string instruments; yet the sound remained somewhat dry.

quartet tent
On to location The barn. A wooden building for lectures and IDFA documentaries under the title Bottle Post. Scientist Abel Streefland, attached to the Leiden Observatory, gave a lecture on uranium enrichment in the Netherlands after WWII. He did a nice job, even though there were no slides and it had nothing to do with music. Nobody walked away. Many exact scientists like classical music, so this lecture fitted in well.

There were a number of so-called 'theme tents', such as Fusion of Arts. In this tent specifically, crossover music sounded. It proved to be one of the most popular spots at the festival. The tent was heavily packed at Stargaze's performance. This company played a string quartet by modern composer Bryce Dessner, which in turn was inspired by the string quartet Tenebrae By Steve Reich. A mysterious piece. Tickle music. Repetitive notes with a beautiful melody line from the cello. Out of nowhere came sung voices. A genuine Wonderfeel moment.

In the tent Never heard of it With music by wayward musicians, countertenor sang Kaspar Kröner. On a different note. He announced that he was going to sing a kaleidoscope of love songs. With a firm pronunciation and a gentle vibrato, he sang sweet romantic songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Thomas Dunhill and Peter Warlock, among others. A tent down the road, a soprano blared along over the dry grassland. A funny coincidence.

kaspar kröner
In that tent further on, the so-called Orphanage of Hits Soloists from the Dutch Travel Opera on. A lot of press with cameras had gathered and it was packed. Performances included Mozart's arias from Cosi fan tutte, Prince Lenski's beautiful aria Kouda Kouda from Eugene Onegin and passionate vocal pieces from Carmen. Hits so and all neatly sung.

Back in the Quartet tent for the Ragazze quartet where by now it had become quite warm. I felt sorry for the ladies. Tightly dressed in fashionable dresses, they had to play high up on the stage, where it was even hotter. Radio4 presenter Hans van den Boom was clearly there with his microphone. He gave the young women all kinds of commands. It was distracting. With my back to the stage, I heard uncannily tightly played notes from the string quartet 3 pieces By Stravinsky. I thought it might have been an idea to hang mirrors along the walls so that everyone could have watched what was happening on stage. At least outside was more comfortable.

ragazze quartet
Briefly needed. The portable toilets were clean, but no toilet paper. Pity. Dinnertime. I bought plastic coins to buy another meal. At a long table, I took a seat among fellow visitors. Appointment was plentiful. There were a striking number of people attending this festival solo, and the audience was generally not young, even though the organisers would have liked them to be. For the Floating Diva I was in the right place. A soprano surrounded by umbrellas sat on a boat pulled by two men in diving suits. Amplified, she sang arias from famous operas. A wonderful act that many spectators could appreciate.

floating diva
It started to rain. Under the big tent on The Field A highlight took place: internationally renowned violinist Isabelle van Keulen and pianist Hannes Minnaar played the Kreutzersonate By Ludwig van Beethoven. Presenter Maartje Stokkers thought it was just funny: the pun of Van Keulen and Minnaar. She was put to work flipping the violinist's sheet music. With some tweaking of the volume by technology, the sound reached beyond under the tent. Van Keulen and Minnaar challenged each other in playing and despite the difference in life years, they were matched. A fine recital to end the first day of a well-organised festival.

Van Keulen and Minnaar

Main photo: Foppe Schut. Other photos: Rudolf Hunnik

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Rudolf Hunnik

Rudolf Hunnik is a cultural journalist, trainer and film programmer. For more information visit www.diversityathome.nlView Author posts

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