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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.

Heart cry of Lili Boulanger echoes through TivoliVredenburg

Although Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) is considered one of the most important French composers of the early 20th century, her music is rarely performed. On Friday 10 November, Du fond de l'abîme will be heard in the AVROTROS Friday Concert. A godsend, because this setting of psalm 130 is of a throat-splitting beauty. Boulanger completed the piece in 1917, a year before her death. American conductor James... 

Kill the West in Me - musical theatre about East-West clash

These days we are bombarded to death with opinions on the pros and cons of multiculti. Depending on their political preferences, people are either very enthusiastic or very negative about the increasing 'colourisation' of our society. The gamelan ensemble Gending, the Doelen Kwartet and Het Geluid Maastricht decided to take the bull by the horns. They based Kill the West in Me on feminist letters from... 

Goeyvaerts and Ustvolskaya: man and woman with hammer

In February 2017, The Collective combined the radical music of Galina Ustvolskaya with the heavenly chants of Hildegard von Bingen. Less strange than it seems, as both were deeply religious and composed from inner necessity. On Thursday 26 October, Spectra Ensemble places Ustvolskaya alongside Karel Goeyvaerts at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Ustvolskaya is well enough known here in the country by now, but who was... 

Klaas de Vries finds neotonic heaven: 'I can't resist composing'

Dutch composer Klaas de Vries (Terneuzen 1944) pairs Stravinskyian clarity with southern sensuality. He harbours a love for poets such as Pablo Neruda and Fernando Pessoa, and his work excels in recognisable melodies and rhythms. 'However innovative, to be communicative, music must always contain a traditional element,' he said. On 28 and 30 November, Asko|Schönberg will play... 

Rozalie Hirs: "'parallel world [breathing]' is dreamlike musical landscape"

For centuries, scientists have seen connections between music and the ordering of the universe. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra took this as the starting point for its concert on 19 October in the Horizon series. A 'polyphonic cosmos' is being realised in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam. Peter Eötvös composed the organ concerto Multiversum for this, Rozalie Hirs wrote 'parallel world [breathing]'. Eötvös' piece is experiencing... 

Amsterdam Sinfonietta shines in shadow play with Kurtág and baroque

The Great Hall of the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ is pitch dark. Then a spotlight flashes on the first side balcony on the right. There, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Maria Milstein, Rosanne Philippens and Jacobien Rozemond play three movements from Telemann's Concert for four violins. They end in a freeze, after which the whisper-soft, fragile tones sound from Treasures by György Kurtág. We only see... 

Per-Sonat sings songs from Luther's time: surprisingly fresh and current

Bis an der Welt ihr Ende is the poetic title of a CD by Per-Sonat featuring German songs from the time of the Reformation. This ensemble of mezzo-soprano Sabine Lutzenberger focuses on music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. This CD follows the development of German song from church reformer Martin Luther to the composer Johann Hermann Schein.... 

North Netherlands Orchestra plays Canto ostinato

To his own dismay, Simeon ten Holt became famous as the composer of a single piece: Canto ostinato for four pianos. This composition immediately struck a chord at its world premiere in 1979. It still sounds just about every day somewhere in the world, in all possible line-ups. From 12 to 14 October, the Noord Nederlands Orkest will present a... 

Bass-baritone Pieter Vis died: music life loses a highly social musician

Completely unexpectedly, bass-baritone Pieter Vis (1949-2017) died on Thursday 28 September, aged 68. A brain haemorrhage proved fatal to him. Just that morning, he had shared a post on Facebook from the radio programme De Ochtend van Vier. - Under his pseudonym Pyoter Riba, the Russian translation of his name. Since he discovered this social medium, he showed himself to be an enthusiastic user 

String theory inspires organ concert: Peter Eötvös conducts KCO in Multiverse

On Thursday 19 October, Peter Eötvös will conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Dutch premiere of his organ concerto Multiversum, which he commissioned for the company. His brand new composition is flanked by works by György Ligeti and Claude Vivier. Transylvania's rich musical tradition Hungarian composer and conductor Peter Eötvös (Székelyudvarhely, 1944) grew up in Transylvania. Towards the end of... 

Choir and orchestra shine in La forza del destino #DNO

From the ominous clarion notes at the beginning to the whisper strings dying into nothingness at the end, everything sounds like clockwork. Yet Michele Mariotti is conducting Giuseppe Verdi's La forza del destino for the first time. He makes his debut at De Nationale Opera with this rarely performed opera. Mariotti came, saw and conquered. He seems to be a born Verdi interpreter, from... 

Sound explorer Aart Strootman wins Gaudeamus Award 2017

On Sunday 10 September, the Gaudeamus Award for composers under 30 was presented in TivoliVredenburg. Winner was Dutch guitarist, composer and instrument designer Aart Strootman (1987). He was chosen from five nominees and received the prize from jury member Christopher Trapani. The jury also included Joe Cutler and Mayke Nas. Like last year, Gaudeamus invited its... 

Gaudeamus Music Week: the squeak-grunt definitively over?

The Gaudeamus Music Week seems to have definitely left behind the stage of thorough but audience-unfriendly 'bleep-grunt'. The renowned festival of new music will present 129 compositions from 32 countries over five days. Asko|Schönberg and Cappella Amsterdam kicked off Wednesday 6 September with a motley variety of styles. Thus, the opening concert was a measure of what modern music lovers could expect up to... 

Festival of Early Music goes topical with music theatre about refugees

You expect a lot from a festival dedicated to early music, but not contemporary music theatre. Yet that is exactly what artistic director Xavier Vandamme has in store for us. On Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 August, street theatre group Kamchátka presents Musica Fugit, a performance about refugees. Visitors become part of the story. This way, they experience for themselves what it means when fleeing is a... 

Reinbert de Leeuw conducts Kurtág on historic CD box set

The three-part CD box set of choral and ensemble works by György Kurtág is, in a word, overwhelming. His soul-transcending sounds are sublimely interpreted by Reinbert de Leeuw et al. The recording, too, is impeccable. This box set is already historic, a monument to the Hungarian grandmaster, who turned 91 last February. Kurtág's existentialist music was played in our country as early as the mid-1970s,... 

Why David Lang links a fairy tale to the St Matthew Passion

Devoting a passion to a fairy tale character? American composer David Lang does not shy away from it. He based his choral work the little match girl passion on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. On Thursday 6 July, it will be performed by the Nederlands Kamerkoor in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. The concert is part of the Choral Biennale and will be enlivened by... 

Mantra (II) Stockhausen with middle finger raised is highlight #HF17

Smoothly they descend the stairs of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Lucas and Arthur Jussen are dressed to kill. With their fussy-cut, see-through costumes, they have already won their first battle before they have even played one note of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mantra. Not only in their outfits, but also in their quirky playing, the young pianists show guts. Lovely, such a... 

Forbidden Music Regained: web archive of persecuted composers

On Wednesday 20 June, Kajsa Ollongren launched the website Forbidden Music Regained at the Uilenburgersjoel in Amsterdam. The capital's deputy mayor and alderman for culture quoted astronaut Neil Armstrong, calling the project 'a giant step for mankind'. She continued, "The website is also important for the city of Amsterdam, because we cannot and must not forget what happened in our city seventy years ago. 

Julia Wolfe: 'Anthracite Fields is a poetic reflection on the lives of miners'

American composer Julia Wolfe (1958) has a thing for the social history of her homeland. Steel Hammer reflects on the unequal struggle of man versus machine, as described in the folk ballad John Henry. Anthracite Fields zooms in on the hard life of miners in Pennsylvania. She won a Pulitzer Prize with it in 2015. The full-length oratorio is experiencing two July... 

Opera Octavia.Trepanation #HF17: drama missing

The opening image of Octavia. Trepanation is an immediate hit. On either side of Lenin's lauded head is an army of Chinese terracotta warriors. - Headless. Lenin's brain suffices for all, the suggestion is. Associations with the image of Che Guevara in Reconstruction from 1969 come to mind. But where that opera conveyed its (anti-American) message with crystal clarity,... 

Holland Festival presents scorching Salome #HF17

Herod has not yet uttered his cry "Kill this woman!" or his soldiers roughly lift Salome onto their shoulders and hurl her into hell. - The fancy drawing room, which had been turned into a ruin, was visible through a see-through hatch for almost the entire opera. Salome's blood-soaked dress seems to flare up for a moment, but then - pats! - the... 

Holland Festival blames itself with Orphanage of Music #HF17

The Orphanage of Dutch Music presents monthly 'forgotten Dutch masterpieces' at Amsterdam's Splendor stage. 'To discover the finer points', these are performed twice, interrupted by 'a short commentary or interview with special table guests'. On paper, a golden formula. Rightly so, the Holland Festival adopted three episodes. With the music, during the opening concert on Thursday, it was all in... 

Radio Philharmonic Orchestra & Great Broadcast Choir: ecstasy in concert

Traditionally, the AVROTROS Friday Concert marks the festive end of the season with a joint concert by the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the Groot Omroepkoor. On 9 June, American star conductor David Robertson leads them through Maurice Ravel's compelling ballet Daphnis et Chloé in the final concert. In addition, the orchestral work L'Ascension by his compatriot Olivier Messiaen and a selection of... 

Oranjewoud Festival: classical music with a royal edge

Since 2012, Yoram Ish-Hurwitz has organised the Oranjewoud Festival in Friesland every summer. In doing so, the equally enterprising and adventurous pianist makes nature an inseparable part of the musical experience. From Wednesday 1 to Monday 5 June, he once again surprises his audience with concerts at special locations. Spread across the area, over 120 top Dutch and international musicians will play the most beautiful... 

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