Spring Festival 2012 @ The Royal Conservatoire The Hague

Annually the Dutch Royal Conservatoire in The Hague stages a Spring Festival, when the Composition Department has their magnum opus. Traditionally composition students have their recent pieces performed and pieces by established composers are presented. In this edition (11 April - 15 April 2012) composition students collaborated with students from the Sonology and ArtScience Department of the Conservatoire and the Theatre School of Amsterdam.

On wednesday evening 11 April the piano was the central musical instrument. The evening was coördinated by famous musician Gerard Bouwhuis, who also performed in most of the pieces. Gerard and students performed three pieces before the intermission. Cornelis de Bondt's Grand Hotel, a lenghty, tonal solo piece for piano, in which Gerard Bouwhuis played the piano at a breathtaking speed. Completely the opposite is Genevieve Murphy's tranquil Drip composition. Hardly any notes and in the first part driven by a dripping foutainpen. The drops fall on blank pages of sheetmusic, which represents the music played. But for me the find of the evening was the opening piece by Darian Brito: Six consecutive moments. A ten minute piece, with heavy interaction between percussionist Wen Hsin Chen and Gerard Bouwhuis. A tough composition of The Hague School.

Thursday evening saw a tour through the the building and garden of the Conservatoire. The project called Project BMB con.in. Which showed the fruits of collaboration bewteen the Composition, Sonology and ArtScience Departments. The audience was dividied into four groups which all took a different tour of the four performances. There was an elevator act with a moaning male voice from a secluded part of the elevator. While the hostess, with a black painted face, enthused the audience to sing high going up with the elevator and humming low while descending. In the garden a group percussionist performed their modern piece, suddenly transforming into a modern beat rythm with heavy dancing. We were sent up a darkened ramp with all kinds of sounds around us leading to two miniature lights (and we had to find our way back in the pitch dark). The fourth perfomance was an electric one. With Clara Lozano Carrasco and Lucie Vitková wearing electronic transmitters to produce sounds while moving around on stage. Heavy noise bursting when the women neared each other.

Within the framework of the Spring Festival, saturday night live with the György Ligeti Academy in Megalopolis. In this event the Academy worked together with the Department Scenography of the Amsterdam Theatre School. Close your eyes and listen to the city the motto was. The Theatre School students succeeded in integrating the decor in the concert consisting of three pieces: Assaf Gidron's Passages, Lucas Wiegerink's Remote and March in three movements and eight meters by Andy Ingamells, with brass instruments and double bass dueting as a group and one on one with a group of softer instruments: violin, recorder, flutes and xylophone. As part of the perfomance the decor was transformed from one to another shape in between the pieces. With the transformation performed in an acting way. The crowd which had turned out en masse for this musical theatre received the performances very well.

Among the musicians I recognised saxophonist Sylvan Kaiser playing bass clarinet. For the final piece he was back on tenor sax. Sylvan told afterwards:"After having taking my master education in Basel, Switzerland I came back to the Netherlands (for reasons of the heart) and qualified for the Ligety Academy. But not for my familiar saxophone. I wanted to broaden my options and studied the bass clarinet this year. And no I am no part of the The Hague Saxophone Quartett any more. While living in Basel I still did some gigs with them, but it was all to strenuous and we decided the Quartett should engage a successor. Which they found in Daan van Koppen."