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Hanna Kulenty composes new piece for Bass Clarinet Festival: 'I'm making a collage of emotions'

Polish-Dutch Hanna Kulenty (Białystok, 1961) writes music that gets under your skin. Whether it is early works like Fourth Circle for violin and piano (1994), the opera Mother of Black-Winged Dreams about multiple personality syndrome (1995), or more recent compositions like the Viola Concerto (2015) and her Flute Concerto No.3 (2018), irrevocably you are taken on an exhilarating journey with a... 

How Wiek Hijmans makes the electric guitar socially acceptable

Wiek Hijmans (b. 1967) is tirelessly promoting the use of the electric guitar in contemporary composed music. He also likes to be influenced by jazz and rock in his own pieces. On Electric Language, his latest CD, he presents music by eight composers alongside his own Victus. Six pieces were composed especially for him. The disc appeared on the label... 

Ton de Leeuw by Groot Omroepkoor & RFO brass ensemble: music of 'being' versus music of 'becoming'

At the end of the nineteenth century, Western music gradually began to come apart at the seams. Composers used more and more dissonances so that the familiar tonality hardly fitted into its shell. From a constant desire for even more expression, the orchestra was expanded with ever-newer instruments. This led to monster productions such as Gustav Mahler's 'Symphony of the Tausend', with more than a thousand... 

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... 

Andriessen's The Matter opens World Minimal Music Festival

Wednesday 5 April kicks off the fifth edition of the biennial World Minimal Music Festival. For five days, the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ will be filled with hypnotic rhythms, trance-inducing melodies and conjuring drones. Alongside well-known works by pioneers such as La Monte Young and Terry Riley are new compositions by Kate Moore and Bryce Dessner. There will also be performances by the Master... 

Early music pioneer Marijke Ferguson: A lifetime of ears on stalks

This month, early music pioneer Marijke Ferguson turned 89. She led the adventurous ensemble Studio Laren for 30 years and has been making radio for over 50 years, the last 23 for the Concertzender. Time and again, she manages to intertwine old and new music with pop and world music in an appealing way. On Sunday 11 December, the Concertzender puts her centre stage during... 

Music life loses colourful figure in Bernard van Beurden

"Thea, I must have that concert organiser's number!", his commanding baritone sounded in my ear. Bernard van Beurden (1933-2016) invariably phoned from the South of France, where he lived - he had a modest pied-à-terre in Amsterdam. As a music journalist, I had interviewed him several times and seemed the right person to help him get information from his distant homeland. Subsequently, we sat for hours... 

With George Pieterson, music life loses another coryphée

Last Sunday, 24 April, clarinetist George Pieterson died at his home in Amsterdam, aged 74. 'George was an iconic player with a big musical heart,' says his former student Frank van den Brink. 'He invariably went full steam ahead and whichever recording you listen to, his playing is always remarkable. You didn't necessarily have to put up with his... 

Franz Liszt: from virtuoso keyboard lion to ascetic innovator

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was revered in his own time as a true devil's advocate, whose virtuoso piano playing set many a woman's heart racing. But above all, he was an innovator, whose ambition was to "hurl a spear into the infinite space of the future". The Concertzender highlights life and work for two hours on Wednesday, 2 December 

Satie in the supermarket

In the 1970s, Reinbert de Leeuw stormed the popular charts with recordings of Erik Satie's early piano music. He managed to strike exactly the right chord with his ultra-rare performances of pieces like Gnossiennes and Gymnopédies. The albums sold like hot cakes and were awarded gold and platinum records. Two decades later, he recorded them... 

Orlando Festival is broad and varied - with one blind spot: the female composer

Thursday 20 August sees the start of the annual Orlando Festival again in Kerkrade. Established in 1982 by cellist Stefan Metz, this event has been luring young musicians to Rolduc Abbey for over three decades to train in musical practice. Named after the then renowned Orlando Quartet, the festival traditionally pays close attention to strings, but other instruments are not forgotten either.... 

Amstel Quartet surprises with chansons

The CD Sax avec Elan! is the latest project by the ever enterprising Amstel Quartet. The four saxophonists made their name with impeccable and inspired performances of contemporary music, but do not shy away from the beaten track. For this CD, they joined forces with French chansonnier Philippe Elan. To my pleasant surprise, the... 

Reconstruction: anti-American opera on Concertzender

In 1969, Reinbert de Leeuw et al's opera Reconstruction caused a huge uproar because of its anti-American tenor and glorification of Cuban freedom fighter Che Guevarra. Journalist Henk van der Meijden started a smear campaign in newspaper De Telegraaf, parliamentary questions were asked, but the production went ahead despite - thanks to ? - all the commotion and Theatre Carré was... 

#Reinbertbio one year on: biographer looks back

There was once a celebrity (pianist, composer and conductor Reinbert de Leeuw), a biographer (Thea Derks) and a riot. De Leeuw was against the publication of his biography Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody and made no secret of it. In the TV programme Zomergasten (Summer guests), he even dismissed the dissertation-like standard work as an almost endearing puff piece. Meanwhile... 

Book becomes radio: Thea Derks presents Panorama De Leeuw on Concertzender

For seven years, Thea Derks worked on her biography of Reinbert de Leeuw. And it did not go unnoticed. Except for the reaction of the person portrayed, unanimously rave reviews and soon a second printing. Rightly so, because the book offers an indispensable description of modern music in the Netherlands, with many composer portraits and an understandable leading role for Reinbert de Leeuw. 

Reinbert de Leeuw, Man or Melody is smoothly written, but many a reader will still take a long time to read it. The enthusiast...

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Concertzender fights for his life again

For the umpteenth time in its more than 30 years of existence, the colourful Concertzender going down. That is why there will be a benefit concert at the Amstelkerk in Amsterdam. Greats like Liza Ferschtman, Yuri Honing, Erik Bosgraaf and the Ragazze Quartet will perform for free, to support the station that broadcasts so many live recordings of their concerts. I myself started my career as a radio producer there in 1995, so I would say: come all, and donate generous! For less than two tonnes a year, the station will stay on air.

Reinbert de Leeuw defies limits of orchestra in Saturday Matinee

Reinbert de Leeuw turned seventy-five last September, but already in May the VPRO honoured him with three full-length broadcasts on Radio 4. Together with Aad van Nieuwkerk, I made a selection from his best recordings of Kagel, Ustvolskaya and Louis Andriessen, among others, about which I also let him speak. This was followed in September by a real Reinbert festival and his own magazine. The magazine not only highlighted him... 

A century of new music: Ruyneman and De Leeuw

This month, Reinbert de Leeuw celebrates his seventy-fifth birthday. Not only are television, radio, internet media and the written press devoting extensive attention to the no small achievements of this champion of contemporary music, but he is also being honoured with his own festival, 'Reinbert 75'. This is organised by the Asko|Schönberg, co-founded by him, the Residentie Orkest and the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, where he took up teaching fifty years ago. In da...

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