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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... 

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... 

'Quite an uproar': a century of contempt for the arts

In 1975, jazz musician Misha Mengelberg and artist Wim T. Schippers organised Een behoorlijk kabaal (Quite a racket) at Amsterdam's Mickery Theatre. For a week, they explore the different meanings of a concert in 'inimitable musical theatre'. Jacqueline Oskamp chose it as the title of her recently published book describing Dutch music history of the past century. Sad conclusion: there is... 

String quartets Mantovani & Schubert: 'Schwingende Luft'

Unlike older colleagues, Bruno Mantovani (Châtillon, 1974) did not suffer from the modernist umbrella shadow that Pierre Boulez long cast over French musical life. He writes lyrical melodies as much as dissonant tone clusters and jazzy chords spiced with a pinch of microtonality. That he was appointed director of the Paris Conservatoire in 2010 illustrates how strong the musical climate... 

The family vibe of 'Le Guess Who?': As if an older cousin has you in tow

Festival Le Guess Who? in Utrecht is on the eve of its tenth edition. From 10 to 13 November, more than a hundred artists will take possession of every conceivable place in the city of Dom where you can perform with good grace. They come from far and wide, just like the visitors. Expect the unexpected, with the whole family? Is that... 

The Busy Drone: Disruptive barrel organ music

Once built for a Belgian dance bar, The Busy Drone came to the Netherlands in the 1960s. Publisher De Bezige Bij placed the barrel organ at its stand at the annual book fair in the RAI in 1968, which explains its striking name. Five years later, director Edy de Wilde purchased the instrument for his Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where it remained until... 

Enchanting concert Silbersee in Pieterskerk Utrecht #Gaud16

A creak. A squeak. A plop. A cough. Geneurie. In Utrecht's Pieterskerk, the singers of Silbersee surround us with almost inaudible, mysterious sounds. The fragmentation evokes an atmosphere of a restless nocturnal forest. Does an owl screech there? The fabric condenses and the sound shifts colour as the singers buzz through cardboard tubes, blow mini harmonicas and shrill... 

Programmer to talk: Astrid in 't Veld's dream season

When you go to a concert, you think about the music, the ensemble, the soloist and/or the conductor. Maybe you look up something about the composer but you never think about the programmer who made the concert possible. Astrid in 't Veld is someone who thinks about the range of concerts on offer years in advance in order to help you with... 

Ed Spanjaard is the ideal new leader of the Orchestra of the East

After it was announced in January this year that Jan Willem de Vriend was leaving at the end of the 2016/2017 season, the Orchestra of the East announced that it was in no hurry to find a successor. One would start working with "renowned guest conductors". Just over six months later, a few months before the departure of interim director Bart van Meijl, a successor was still presented. That this successor, Ed Spanjaard, is given the title of 'permanent conductor' seems mainly a semantic issue.

Pascal Gallois: formidable champion of the bassoon #HF16

Bassoonist Pascal Gallois gets laughs when he tries in vain to insert the flowers he has just received into the tube of his instrument. Also in the now classic Dialogue de l'ombre double by Pierre Boulez, he manages to make the audience chuckle on Sunday 19 June, when he produces a kind of elephant-like trumpet with much misfiring. His performance is part of the ''Save the bassoon', which will conclude on Sunday 25 June with a concert at the Holland Festival Proms at the Concertgebouw. For this hundreds of (amateur) bassoonists ON. Action successful, in other words.

Harrison Birtwistle: from shocking to guttural musical theatre

In his youth, Harrison Birtwistle (1934) was one of the Angry Young Men of English music, now elevated to the peerage and going through life as 'Sir Harry'. He trained as a clarinetist and composer at the Royal College of Music in Manchester, where he was annoyed by the conservative climate. Together with John Ogden,... 

Forever waiting for Godot: Pierre Boulez died

He would have turned 91 on 26 March, but died Tuesday night, 5 January, in his hometown of Baden-Baden. Pierre Boulez was the last surviving composer of the group that changed the direction of music after WWII. His fellow maestros preceded him: Karlheinz Stockhausen died in 2007, Luciano Berio in 2003, Karel Goeyvaerts in 1993 and... 

Arvo Pärt's music: not always a warm bath

What titles come to mind when you hear the name Arvo Pärt? Sonatina opus 1; Symphony no. 1; Perpetuum mobile, or Fratres; Für Alina; Spiegel im Spiegel? My guess is the second set, because it was with pieces like these that Pärt conquered the world in the late 20th century. Audiences flocked in droves to immerse themselves in his sonorous sound world, but... 

Conductor Jurjen Hempel: 'The students of Score Collective have an unprecedented technical ability.'

Music students are generally conservative. When I studied musicology in the 1990s, we could go to the concerts in new-music temple the IJsbreker for only five guilders. I eagerly used this opportunity to hear the very latest notes by living composers like Pauline Oliveros and Sofia Gubaidoelina for a trifle. I never saw a single fellow student there. Still I am... 

Unsuk Chin: 'Holland is more open to new music than other countries'

In 1985, Unsuk Chin (Seoul 1961) won the Gaudeamus Music Prize with Spektra for three cellos, six years later she made her breakthrough with her Akrostichon-Wortspiel for soprano and ensemble composed for the Nieuw Ensemble. In 2004, she won the Grawemeyer Award, the world's most prestigious music prize; in 2007, she made a deep impression with her opera Alice in Wonderland. Tomorrow, Thursday 22 October. 

DJ Eddy De Clercq: From 'Nichtenherrie' to Neerlands Export product

Eddy De Clercq, the Godfather of Dutch house and dance culture, wrote his autobiography, Let the Night Never End, together with Martijn Haas. A story about the birth of the DJ scene in the Low Countries, the rise of house music and nightlife with raging parties full of sex, dance, art, booze, swag and snuff. Against the backdrop of the advancing... 

Muziekgebouw jubilees - Ten years of music on the IJ

Next weekend, from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 September, the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ celebrates its tenth anniversary with a jam-packed festival three-day event. From a cruise on the IJ with music by John Cage, a sleep concert by bassoonist Bram van Sambeek, a world premiere by Dutch Composer Willem Jeths, to a musical picnic in the entrance hall. No fewer than eight... 

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... 

De Doelen concert hall opts for content and sells 23 per cent more

Concert & Congress hall De Doelen in Rotterdam will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. That is, 50 years ago, the current venue was festively opened. The building by architects Kraaijvanger and Fledderus was the first major public building of the reconstruction after German bombs destroyed the city on 10 May 1940. However, its name goes back much longer. The at... 

Bloodless Baroque Revisited #HF15

After an hour, I looked at my watch - barely 10 minutes had passed. On paper, the programme Baroque Revisited by Soloist Ensemble Kaleidoskop at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ on 18 June looked exciting. Works by Baroque composers are forged into one by German composer Sarah Nemtsov (b 1980), interwoven with modern sounds and... 

24 Hours of Urbo Kune @HollandFestival Tonight wake and sleep with Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston

'Urbo Kune' is esperanto for 'common city'. Klangforum Wien presents 24 hours of contemporary music and ideas today at the Muziekgebouw, focusing on the future of Europe and ideas about the ideal capital of the United States of Europe. At 12:12 today afternoon, the event started with an incomprehensible statement from the roof. Mayor Van der Laan, Arnon Grunberg, Francine Houben alternate... 

The Book of Sand: unprecedented computational speed invisible behind singing woman in layers

Inspired by stories by Borges, whose widow was present at the launch of the online interactive musical piece at the Holland Festival, The Book of Sand still looks most like an elaborate, very chic music video. Is that a bad thing? "Neither the book nor sand possess a beginning or an end." Borges' story, to which the title refers, is about... 

'A drunken panda who wants to have a tussle' - The Loom of Mind on HF15

In The Loom of Mind, Icelandic folk singer Mugison, his bosom friend Pétur Ben, and Flemish baroque ensemble B.O.X. join forces. What does that sound like: melancholic Icelandic blues with 17th-century instruments? Like a stand-up storytelling concert performance? Or like a drunken panda who wants to have a game? How did you find each other? Pieter Theuns, lutenist and founder of B.O.X.: "I found Mugison... 

New music loses advocate Ton Hartsuiker

Monday 18 May 2015 he will be cremated in Utrecht: Ton Hartsuiker, tireless champion of new music in our country. In recent years, his health was ailing; he would narrowly miss his 82nd birthday. He was active as pianist, music educator, conservatory director, administrator and radio presenter. Even after his retirement in 1998, he did not consider quitting his... 

Music missionary looks back: "That King's Day concert is indefinite!"

Yep, I'm running behind, because just now I finally saw (in parts) the King's Day concert! But hey, good music has no expiry date and for now this concert will be online for a while. What a party! Some of my favourite musicians participated. Faithful readers of Culture Press know that violinist and composer Oene van Geel is definitely one of them. He brought along Zapp4... 

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