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#Corona-classics 3: Maxim Shalygin: organ-playing saxophones on CD 'Todos los fuegos el fuego'

A rainy day in #coronaquarantine seems like the ideal time to listen to a CD about fire. So I slide Todos los fuegos el fuego by Ukrainian-Dutch composer Maxim Shalygin into the laptop. 'All fires the fire' is named after Julio Cortázar's collection of eight short stories of the same name. The CD also has eight songs, which together... 

Joy of life and icy constriction. Ensemble Modern performs striking world premieres by female composers during November Music

Ensemble Modern presents world premieres by German-Dutch Iris ter Schiphorst and Turkish Zeynep Gedizlioğlu in November Music. And that is good news, because the female composer remains too often invisible even in 2019. In the brochures of any Dutch orchestra, you will find none, or only a single work by a woman. On the new Heart & Soul list of... 

First aid for blaze. Rudolf Escher offers solace with Musique pour l'esprit en deuil

Monday 15 April 2019, this date is forever etched in our memory. I couldn't keep dry at the images of the all-consuming fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. Like millions of others, I sat glued to my screen for hours with bated breath: this cannot be true! When the structure, the rose windows and even the organ turned out to be saved, I jumped... 

Film concert featuring West Side Story, Bernstein's indictment of discrimination

Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The AVROTROS Friday Concert puts his most popular piece, West Side Story, on the programme on Saturday (!) 26 May. The Radio Philharmonic Orchestra will play the electrifying music full of ecstatic melodies and vital dances live at the integral screening of the original 1961 film. The whole thing is conducted by the young American conductor 

Composer Marijn Simons: 'Everything is about timing'

Although the press picks it up only sparsely, not only the NTRZaterdagMatinee pays much attention to Dutch composers. Indeed, they are also well represented in the AVROTROS Vrijdagconcert (formerly De Vrijdag van Vredenburg). In 2014, for instance, Joey Roukens wrote The building of the temple to mark the reopening of TivoliVredenburg. Two years later, the season opened with Atlantis by Robin... 

Sofia Gubaidoelina: 'Only in the West could I set myself large-scale goals and realise them'

Sofia Gubaidoelina has become a true audience favourite in our country. She is also a welcome guest in broadcasting series. The AVROTROS Friday Concert, for instance, brought the Dutch premieres of Glorious Percussion (2011) and O Komm, Heiliger Geist (2016). Friday 23 March will see the first Dutch performance of her Triple Concerto for bayan, violin and cello. The piece is dedicated to... 

Between nappy and dishes - the (in)visibility of female composers

Amsterdam, 8 March 2018. Today is Women's Day, no one can fail to notice. The media are brimming with articles about women's unequal pay and their still limited representation in prestigious positions. Whether in politics, business, academia or the arts. Perhaps the most conservative is the classical music world. There, the female composer has yet to... 

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... 

Composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas: 'Music has no nationality'

The most recent achievement of Russian-Swedish composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas (b. 1969) is Dracula. This opera based on Bram Stoker's book of the same name premiered at Royal Opera Stockholm in October 2017. A 'colourful and highly atmospheric musical score', it included 'one of the most emotional scenes in the history of Swedish opera', wrote one critic. Seven years earlier,... 

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... 

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... 

Wolfgang Rihm links suffering Christ to Holocaust in 'Deus Passus' - podcast

In this period before Easter, Johann Sebastian Bach's Passions seem almost inescapable. But the alternatives are on the rise. Last week, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Groot Omroepkoor presented two highly successful new Passions. Alternative passion Tomorrow bring the AVROTROS Friday Concert Deus Passus by German composer Wolfgang Rihm. It will be performed by the Groot Omroepkoor and the Radio Philharmonic ... 

Composer Robin de Raaff makes world perish in 'Atlantis'

Friday 23 September will open the new season of the AVROTROS Vrijdagconcert with the world premiere of Atlantis by Robin de Raaff. He composed this 50-minute piece commissioned for this broadcasting series, for the Groot Omroepkoor and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, augmented by solo soprano and solo baritone. The text is largely taken from the poem of the same name by American Hart Crane,... 

Salome Dances for Peace Terry Riley: opening hit Musica Sacra

Thursday 15 September saw the kick-off of arts festival Musica Sacra in Maastricht. While I was in a traffic jam, Bobby Mitchell played the eighth and final movement of Frederik Rzewski's piano cycle The Road, who himself was present. It also marked the conclusion of last year's festival, which was dedicated to 'the road', the journey made by pilgrims ... 

Hello, here Hilversum

Last weekend, more than 500 monuments in the Netherlands could be visited for free during the annual Open Monumentendag. Each year, this special day has a theme, this year it was 'Icons and Symbols'. After a thorough restoration, Hilversum's Studio 2 in the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep also opened its doors after 85 years. During the same week, a pop-up exhibition... 

Legendary cello gets new player: 'Just play it like a bear with socks on'

Recently, Lidy Blijdorp (* 1986) took over the cello of well-known cellist Anner Bijlsma (* 1934). It was his wish for the instrument to be played by her from now on. Via the Netherlands Music Instruments Fund (NMF), the instrument came to her. The maker of this cello is not known. However, it is certain that it originated from... 

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... 

Princess Christina Competition 2016: varied repertoire at a high level

Even before the welcome applause has died down at the Zuiderstrand Theatre on Saturday 23 April, pianist Manuel Sanguino begins Bach's Partita BWV 826. Crystal-clear runs sound in his right hand, while his left hand shapes the contrapuntal counterpoints just as smoothly. Even the faster passages are beautifully phrased and distinguishable note by note. Sanguino is one of the... 

Violinist Vadim Repin: 'The score is our bible!'

At five, he started playing the violin, and after only six months he gave his first performance. At 17, he was the youngest participant ever to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition. In 2002, Vadim Repin, born in Novosibirsk in 1971, played at Willem-Alexander and Máxima's wedding concert, together with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Three years ago, Repin started his own... 

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... 

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... 

Powerladies in Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

In 1989, the Holland Festival placed composers from the Soviet Union at the centre. The music of Galina Ustvolskaya and Sofia Gubaidoelina hit like a bomb. The ladies proved to be here to stay, although they move at two extremes of our perception of sound. Ustvolskaya pounds her message into our eardrums with monomaniacal drive, Gubaidoelina intoxicates us with mysterious rustling and whispering sounds. For me,... 

Theo Verbey: 'A composer is first and foremost a songwriter'

Dutch composer Theo Verbey (Delft 1959) writes music of lush tonal beauty, in which the achievements of centuries of musical tradition resound. He made his name with works such as Triad (1991) for orchestra and Expulsion (1988) for large ensemble, and with orchestrations of pieces by composers such as Modest Mussorgsky and Alban Berg. For the closing concert of De Vrijdag van Vredenburg, he wrote Traurig wie... 

Top talent in final Princess Christina Competition

On Sunday afternoon 26 April, I was a member of the press jury at the final of the Prinses Christina Competition in Lucent Danstheater in The Hague. Definitely not a punishment, as all six finalists performed at top level, no matter how young and inexperienced they were. Time and again, the organisation proves that all the gloom about the future of classical music is nonsense: this year too, there were... 

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