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Jaïr Tchong

Formerly cultural journalist and music programmer (Tolhuistuin, Melkweg) in the Netherlands. Since 1 December 2019, music programmer for arts centre KAAP. KAAP organises two annual collaborations in Bruges and Ostend. In Ostend in its own venue by the sea, in Bruges nomadically throughout the city and with partners such as Concertgebouw Brugge, Cactus, CC Brugge and De Republiek. KAAP also organises festivals: Push the Button, Dansand, Jazz Brugge and AMOK.

Ann Eysermans at Dropa House, photo by Dropa House

Why Antwerp is ahead of Dutch culture: Dropa House

The recording studio and residency venue of Antwerp's Sound In Motion/SIM under construction is why the Belgian cultural sector is miles ahead of that of the Netherlands in one important respect. Magic word is: residency. Do It Yourself From Antwerp, the couple Christel and Koen, both marinated in the DIY ideology of punk, have long been bombarding city and world with concerts... 

photo by Jaïr Tchong


1. During 9/11, I was in Salamanca with two friends. The day Geert Wilders managed to amass 37 seats (thank you VVD and normalising media), I was in Rabat, attending the Visa for Music music conference, with which the European Jazz Network (one of the best-functioning networks within European cultural funding, I say as a new kid... 

Zeitgeist and chance cannot be captured by an algorithm. Why a robot should not replace the music programmer.

Last Wednesday, 2 October, at the annual congress of the Vereniging Nederlandse Poppodia en Festivals in Tivoli/Vredenburg, I saw an interesting presentation by Jonas Kiesekoms, research coordinator at PXL-Music in Hasselt, Belgium, and musician. The question is now classic: can a robot replace the music programmer? With his research group, Kiesekoms is working on several applications that use data science to improve ticket sales for concerts,... 

Smartphone-less new novel by Stefan Brijs

'A manuscript gets angry if you leave it alone,' Flemish novelist Stefan Brijs (Genk, 1969) once stated in a broadcast of Kunststof Radio, referring to his working method. Brijs writes in long, continuous periods in which the writer says he does not even run errands. Recently, Brijs, who made his international breakthrough with The Angel Maker (2006), published his new novel Zonder... 

Another day of life: a film experience that continues to irritate under the skin long after leaving the movie house.

It remains miraculous how much emotion intelligent animation can generate. In Another day of life (in cinemas from 14 March), the Angolan coverage by legendary Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński is captured in grandly drawn images. Combined with live footage and well-chosen archival material, it delivers an 85-minute hellscape that can be appreciated on several levels. Kapuściński... 

IDFA 2017: digital pioneer Jonathan Harris switches to analogue

With a 500-million-year-old pebble, Jonathan Harris began his lecture. IDFA presents the first international retrospective of this artist. As IDFA's chief guest, Harris gave the 'Master Talk' on Friday, about his life and work. His remarkably analogue vision was also the common thread during Sunday's well-attended DocLab conference. Fundamentally analogue Harris, who once started out in computer science... 

The only one - review in letter form (Why Peter Perrett is a true survivor)

Hey H., Tonight I went with J.P. to see Peter Perrett & Band at Paradiso, Small Hall. Sold out! I've told you about J. before, he was the deejay who gave me a 'crash course' in sincere music at the Eindhoven Bakery when I was 15 (1988). Before I tell you about Peter Perrett and why his music is worth... 

Suddenly feeling the urgency at Dancing on the Edge

As soon as I, as an art consumer, begin to suspect arbitrariness in the artist or his creative process, I drop out. Incidentally, this observation now surprises me. After all, I am no fetishist of form, nor am I a canon junkie, and I am not qualified in any of the standard artistic disciplines. Not a composer, not a performing musician and not an actor. Neither filmmaker nor director, nor a lyricist graduate.... 

Films at ADE: The rock doc as an IKEA package.

On the fringes of Amsterdam Dance Event, I saw two music documentaries that expose why this genre is often problematic for the cinephile. Both films have their fine moments, but ultimately fall short for those who desire more than mere information transfer in television format. A sympathetic Goth Are 'friends' electric? is title and big hit (1979) by British synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan,... 

Lavalu's nocturnal movement

High up in a posh flat, Lavalu (stage name of Marielle Woltring, Cleveland, Ohio, 1979) recently gave a try-out of her new programme at Eindhoven's FlatFest festival. For the first time now, she will tour without a band, solo with piano, in small venues where there is a good grand piano. On that Sunday afternoon in Brabant, it soon became clear that somewhere, something was... 

Collecting egg cartons! Why we need a jazz club like Persepolis.

Wondrous story: Utrecht had a famous jazz club between 1957 and 1967. It was founded - including egg cartons on the vault - by jazz-loving teenagers. Not only the fine fleur of Dutch jazz performed there, but also many an international big name. As part of Utrecht's Cultural Sundays, last Sunday (23 April), a wharf cellar on the... 

The Matthew according to Henk

A tip for Good Friday. Viola player Saskia Meijs first made the necessary mileage in the 'classical' classical music world. She decided to leave it and look for a less formal and convention-laden career. Solo and with her group the Barockpuppies, she now undertakes the nicest things, at beautiful locations such as Frankendael and the Concertgemaal. Blessed... 

Somewhere at STRP Biennial 2017, a future, earth-shattering genius is walking around among the schoolchildren

Leisure is the mother of philosophy. -motto of British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, seen in Klokgebouw during STRP17 An app called "Die with me" that, as soon as your smartphone is at five per cent remaining power, automatically connects with other Die with me users. An app game called "Airb'n'bhost", where you have to choose who offers the airb'n'b interior from three portrait photos each time. The most fun:... 

Finds inside (Misha Mengelberg 1935 - 2017)

There is sound; a notion of impotence; a programme without a head or tail; there is power, chatter, compassion; there is nothing but also a vista, blurred image full of action and opposition. Moreover, the language seems a bit overwrought here and there. Of course, incoherent drivel can be cosy, or moving. Under circumstances, meaningfulness may be possible, but it will not... 

Topicality overtaken by past (film tip)

In late 2006, I got to know Dutch filmmaker Sander Francken. I had watched his film Dealing and wheeling in small arms for the Groene Amsterdammer. Afterwards, I sought him out in his workspace for an interview. I remember that conversation well: sharper than many other interviews. After all, the worst thing that can happen to you is a swarm of PR people who... 

Art is not an exam you can fail. Art is a way of seeing

Op Art (optical art) is less well known than Pop Art. Until you see the works in question. There may be no Op Art stars of Andy Warhol status, but their creations directly resonate with images you know from art history. On Saturday 25 February, a major exhibition[hints]In collaboration with the Louisiana Museum in Denmark[/hints] opened at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam about these... 

How I found love for opera in Sexyland. (And how you can too) #0FF17

A prelaunch of the Opera Forward Festival OFF [hints]From 18 to 31 March at De Nationale Opera (formerly the Muziektheater/Stopera)[/hints], among other venues, was organised last night at Amsterdam's new society Sexyland. I was impressed. Pretty surprising. Opera Nopera Disclaimer: the author of this one is not an opera director. The last two operas I saw were both by Philip Glass (the true... 

No cause for gloating at the end of the North Sea Jazz Club

It was announced today that the North Sea Jazz Club at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek grounds is bankrupt. This is never good news, for anyone. Not even for those sourpusses who like to complain about North Sea Jazz, the club's namesake. Five years ago, it was big news: the Rotterdam-based North Sea Jazz Festival was going to open a club in Amsterdam. That was... 

Diversity, schmiversity (my reservations about the CCD Award)

Brief summary. On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the presentation of the important award (actually two: audience award and jury award) called Code Cultural Diversity Award. I did not see a single fellow journalist(s). What I did see were lots of professional advocates speaking on behalf of people who were barely present themselves in the Galaxy. NB: the author is of Aruban-Chinese-Dutch descent and in no way wants to undermine the urgency of the issue of diversity... 

Pixvae: hot-blooded fusion between French metal and Colombian Currulao

Last summer, French-Colombian collective Pixvae was the sensation of the Haarlemmer Houtfestival. Their debut was recently released through the prestigious French label Buda Musique. This week there are two Dutch shows. You can't start a day better than with Pixvae's first CD. Eight pieces only, but the energy that oozes from it is irresistible. The music of... 

What I learned from Jan Wolff, the late director of Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

During the big January cleaning in my private museum, I rediscovered the book released in 2007, on the occasion of the Music Building on the IJ, which opened two years earlier. I had forgotten that it came with a CD with four pieces on it. The fourth piece is a recording of the opening speech given by Jan Wolff [hints]former director IJsbreker, more than twenty... 

Edward Snowden and Oliver Stone make a resounding statement

In the presence of Amnesty International and Edward Snowden - via a video link from Moscow - Oliver Stone's new film Snowden premiered at Tuschinski on Thursday night. The dramatised story of the young, gifted public servant who is troubled by conscience and decides to go to the press is not very original or compellingly portrayed. But on the wave of... 

Administrative aversion to the idea of 'world music' is international

From 19 to 23 October, more than two thousand music professionals gathered in Santiago de Compostella for the 22nd World Music Expo (WOMEX). I was there and came back with mixed feelings. My first music fair experience was the WOMEX in Rotterdam. In 2001, the Maas city was the cultural capital of Europe and thus had extra resources at its disposal. The Berlin organiser of... 

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