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Brazilian vibes and groundbreaking performances at Holland Festival 

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Three more weeks and the Holland Festival is about to start again! The 77th edition of the Holland Festival opens at Amsterdam's Gashouder on 6 June with Rite of Spring, a double programme in which Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps is the inspiration for a film by Greek filmmaker and visual artist Evangelia Kranioti. This edition's associate artist, Brazilian theatre and filmmaker Christiane Jatahy, uses footage from her extensive film archive to create an entirely new film on Music in Common Time By US composer Caroline Shaw.   

The opening sets the tone in form and content for the entire festival. Christiane Jatahy addresses society and entrenched power and gender relations with a critical eye. In her performance Hamlet - In the Folds of Time for example, the protagonist, played by Clotilde Hesme, is a woman who looks at the demons of her past and wants to learn from them. Her mother and her lover, Gertrude and Ophelia, are her main antagonists. How can they change their future and make it more woman-friendly? 

New to the programme is Crossings, two afternoons of meetings in two Amsterdam parks. Invited by the Holland Festival, Jatahy will talk to residents, activists and artists about their city. What does the city mean to them, what makes it their home, what connects them? The conversations will be conducted live and broadcast simultaneously in public spaces. Saturday 15 June in Nelson Mandela Park and Wednesday 19 June in Noorderpark. Crossings is free to visit. 

In concert with Jatahy, the festival's focus is on Brazil. Jatahy's own performance Depois do silêncio examines the country's problematic slavery past, in its signature blend of fiction and documentary, film and theatre and music by its regular musical partner Vitor Araújo.  

Brazilian rhythms

Araújo himself, together with his band, two Candomblé percussionists and Metropole Orkest Strings, plays his magnum opus Levaguiã Terê. Studies of the rhythms from Araújo's native region in northeastern Brazil, in turn brought along on countless slave transports from Africa, underpin the album. His work is sometimes melancholic swirling, then measured minimal or boisterously tribal, but almost always driven by a constant pulse of percussion. 

More Brazilian music in the festival comes from the legendary Arthur Verocai, who, at 79, will perform with the Metropole Orchestra in Het Concertgebouw. His 1972 album, Arthur Verocai titled, has long been a collector's item, made famous by samples from hip-hop artists in particular. MF Doom and Ludacris sampled Verocai's music, for instance, in the soundtrack of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Now the maestro himself plays his mix of bossa nova, samba, jazz, MPB, psychedelica and funk.  

Groundbreaking dance from Brazil is here too. Grupo Cena 11 has been around since 1995 and is now coming to the Netherlands for the first time with Eu não sou só eu em mim ('I am not just me in myself'). In this performance, seven dancers and a pianist led by Alejandro Ahmed respond to the work of anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro, who wrote about the Brazilian people in the 1990s (O povo Brasileiro). What is identity and what is culture, especially in a country where people from many different cultures and backgrounds live together?  

New in the programme

Not Brazilian, but new to the programme is the opening of the Day of the Composer on 15 June, early in the morning at Amsterdam Centraal Station IJboulevard, with the world premiere of a new composition by Anne-Maartje Lemereis, Composer of the Fatherland, as well as the brand-new city song by Yannis Kyriakides, who was appointed City Composer of Amsterdam for the occasion. You will also hear the miniatures he composed for the performance commissioned by the Holland Festival and Asko|Schönberg. Mutability. The performance Mutability itself can be seen at the Muziekgebouw a week later, on 23 June, as a concert installation by Kyriakides, 12 composers, soloists from Asko|Schönberg, the Innovation:Lab, Darien Brito and Theun Mosk. Together, they create a labyrinth of sounds and musical miniatures for the audience to wander through. Technology and soloists come together in a concert installation that is constantly mutating and in motion  

Also new to the programme is the stream of The Bird of a Thousand Voices, a multimedia folk tale by composer Tigran Hamasyan about a mythological bird, a symbol of recovery and awareness. With Hamasyan's sparkling new piano music, vocals by Areni Agbabian and an interactive light installation, the myth comes to life that has fascinated Hamasyan since childhood. The stream can be seen online from 18 to 20 June. 

The Holland Festival will take place from 6 June to 29 June 2024 at 22 venues, in six city districts. For more information and ticket sales, please visit www.hollandfestival.nl 

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