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Unmissable livestreams in November Music

The Cello Biennale cancelled all concerts at the last minute and switched to livestreaming, courtesy of Radio4. With great success: the festival attracted nearly 60,000 visitors - and counting, of course, as most recordings remain available online. Meanwhile, November Music is keeping its nerve: the management is betting on live concerts with a maximum audience of 30.

In an email update to press and public, she did express her concerns: 'It will be some exciting days. After next Tuesday's press conference, we will know whether November Music 2020 can definitely go ahead. Of course, we have arranged everything so that we meet all safety requirements with a maximum of 30 visitors per concert, one-and-a-half-metre spacing and no catering around.'

Exciting indeed, even for me as a music publicist. Due to the limited number of tickets, it is hardly possible to attend concerts in person. Fortunately, the organisation has already decided to offer ten performances via free streaming make available.

Friday, November 6, 7pm: Bosch Requiem YeonDo

We can squeeze our hands that this is also the traditional opening concert with a brand new Bosch Requiem. On 6 November, Korean-Dutch Seung-Won Oh kicks off with a very special version. She intervenes in Bosch Requiem: YeonDo back to a Korean death ritual. Western and Korean percussion play an important role in the hushed piece, and the choir sings both Latin and Korean texts.

To add to the ritual atmosphere, the audience is invited to participate themselves, by rattling bells together with the percussionists. 'This is a moment for the consolation of dead souls,' Oh told me in a interview. - I light some candles and keep my bells close at hand!

Saturday, November 7, 4pm: Juliet Fraser / Nicoline Soeter

Brabant-based Nicoline Soeter is not only a composer but also the artistic director of De Link, a concert series for new music in Tilburg. Just recently, she was interviewed extensively in the NRC about the successful stage, which is gaining national appeal.

Soeter often works with electronics and writes music of a dreamy sonic beauty. Her vocal lines have a spatial purity that at times evokes the swaying music of a Hildegard von Bingen. As such, Soeter is Juliet Fraser's ideal partner. The British soprano avoids no challenge and moves effortlessly through every conceivable musical style.

However, anyone following the link above will think: Nicoline Soeter, duh? Her name is missing from the programme page. How now? Soeter's own site offers a solution. There we read that her new piece for Fraser and the Explore Ensemble has been postponed to 2021. Pity, but not to worry: Fraser is putting a tasteful alternative programme in its place. She sings two solos specially composed for her for voice, electronics and video.

From Australian Lisa Illean sounds A through-grown earth, 'an undulating texture that subtly switches between microtonal and non-tempered moods', according to one critic. From American Nomi Epstein, Fraser sings Collections for Juliet. The over 10-minute piece is made up of a detailed set of instructions and an arsenal of three to four glissandi.

This leads to 'a great wealth of details audible down to micro level. As the voice laboriously rises and falls you experience an overwhelming physicality,' wrote the press. Juliet Fraser released both compositions earlier this year on the CD Spilled out from Tangles.

Thursday, November 12, 3 pm: Hannes Minnaar / Rob Zuidam

In 2013, Rob Zuidam composed the first Bosch Requiem, on the occasion of the (almost) 500e anniversary of Hieronymus Bosch's death. Since then, November Music commissioned a different composer each year to write a new Requiem.

Minnaar today posts Zuidam's brand new piano cycle composed especially for him Nox on the lecterns. The five-movement piece has sharply changing atmospheres, which Minnaar knows how to flawlessly capture, as heard on a recently released CD. The fourth movement bears the caption "Farewell to Reinbert at Zorgvlied". - Named after the final resting place of Reinbert de Leeuw, who died last February.

In an interview, Minnaar said of Nox: 'The music is surprisingly accessible: highly communicative and sometimes downright tonal, but above all very Zuidam: lush, enchanting and at times very emotional.' Handkerchiefs at the ready, then.

Friday 13 November 9pm: 9pm - philharmonie zuidnederland / Kaija Saariaho

An entire orchestra on stage? No, but with a string orchestra, percussionists, timpani, harp and celesta, there are still quite a few musicians on stage. Still, the portrait concert by house composer Kaija Saariaho seems to be going ahead for now. Fingers crossed that Rutte and De Jong do not throw a spanner in the works next Tuesday, because the programme is finger-licking good.

The increasingly adventurous programming orchestra performs the fairy-like flute concerto Aile du songe, with the unsurpassed Camilla Hoitenga as soloist. The American flutist is an absolute Saariaho specialist, for whom the Finnish-French composed several works. They worked closely together on the many subtle playing cues with which Saariaho conjures up the wealth of timbres so characteristic of her.

The piece was inspired by a verse from the collection Birds from Saint-John Perse: "Aile falquée du songe vous nous retrouverez ce soir sur d'autre rives!" (False wing of the dream, you will meet us tonight on other shores!) Perse sees the flight of birds as a metaphor of life's mysteries and Saariaho has managed to capture his layered language in a huge variety of sound nuances.

The concert will be preceded by Thin Air, which Composer of the Fatherland Calliope Tsoupaki composed in response to the corona crisis. She signed for the Bosch Requiem. With Thin Air for any instrumentation, she wants to give people a heart to heart. The composition will be performed as a relay at all Dutch festivals, today by singer and violinist Claire Adams.

Following is the short See the Sky About the Rain for 3 percussionists, which Anthony Fiumara composed earlier this year, commissioned by philharmonie zuid. The concert will appropriately conclude with the poignant Toorra Memoria by festival composer Kaija Saariaho. She dedicated this work to the memory of all those who are no longer among us.

On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November too, there will be plenty to enjoy via the livestream. So keep an eye on the site of November Music keep an eye on it, because who knows, there may be (much) more to come....

Postscript 4 November. Due to the new corona measures on 3 November, November Music has cancelled the entire festival. So it will not be experienced via livestreams either. An incredible bummer!

Thea Derks

Thea Derks studied English and Musicology. In 1996, she completed her studies in musicology cum laude at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in contemporary music and in 2014 published the critically acclaimed biography 'Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody'. Four years on, she completed 'An ox on the roof: modern music in vogevlucht', aimed especially at the interested layperson. You buy it here: In 2020, the 3rd edition of the Reinbertbio appeared,with 2 additional chapters describing the period 2014-2020. These also appeared separately as Final Chord.View Author posts

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