After having filmed the concert of the Hofstads Jeugdorkest (The Hague Youth Symphony Orchestra) I have to rush to be in time at Concert Hall "De Doelen" in Rotterdam for the interview by Neil Wallace with David Lang, Alessandro de Rosa (both composers) and Pete Harden (composer and Ensemble Klang guitar player). An interesting conversation develops about why they compose and about the art of composing in general. And of course the composers David and Allessandro explain, to a certain degree, their programmed pieces. For instance David Lang reveals he was happy to work on his piece "Pierced" to tailor it to "embed" Ensemble Klang and it's instrumentation into the composition. He said:"I love the idea of remaking things, changing things and making them fresh. It is relaxing to me. It takes the pressure off, trying to get it right the first time."
By the way the programme was initiated by the Residentie Orkest (The Hague Philharmonic) in the context of its 110th anniversery. A commendable initiative which brings the Orchestra again in the forefront of new music, after a period of drougth in that field.
And what a line up and programm they staged. So Percussion from New York, Ensemble Klang from The Hague and the Residentie Orkest. Before the break David Lang's compositions "Pierced" and "Man Made" and after the break pieces of youngsters Alessandro de Rosa (Italy, 1985) "Gravitá ritrovata" and Daniel Bjarnason (Iceland, 1979) "Emergence".
Ensemble Klang and Residentie Orkest
With the six Ensemble Klang players positioned to the far left of the stage beside the members of Residentie Orkest renowned Berli born new music conductor André de Ridder triggered a gargatuan rythmic explosion. "Pierced" hit you like an avalanche with pianist Saskia Lankhoorn, guitarist Pete Harden, percussionist Joey Marijs, baritone saxophonist Michiel van Dijk and alto - and tenor saxophonist Erik-Jan de With playing incredible complex patterns, while trombonist Anton van Houten underlined these patterns with heavy hitting staccato notes in the low register. Gradually the strings of Residentie Orkest play a more prominent part in the piece. The composition evolves into a combination of three layers: rythm (piano, percussion and guitar), flow (strings) and on top of that a kind of alarming cries (brass). A dream team combination of David Lang, Ensemble Klang and Residentie Orkest.
So Percussion sticks
The So Percussion Ensemble is known for their use of uncommon objects in their performance of new music compositions. David Lang wrote "Man Made" especially for this quartet of percussionists: Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting. It is all about the interaction of the soloist with the symphony orchestra. This is done in four stages. The percussionists break wooden sticks, they use more or less filled wine bottles as a vertical xylophone, use metal tubes and metal garbage bins and Jason Treuting utilizes a regular drum kit while Eric, Josh and Adam play the xylophone. A standing ovation for So Percussion, the Orchestra and of course David Lang.
Alessandro de Rosa (with flowers) with conductor André de Ridder beside him
After the intermission the stage was solely for Residentie Orkest and it's conductor André de Ridder. First they performed Alessandro de Rosa's piece Gravitá ritrovata. Alessandro graduated in composition in 2014 at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. A fervent composition which was actually commmisioned by Residentie Orkest for it's 110th anniversary. Musical outbursts and with a brilliant clarinet solo. Working towards a subtle finale.
Emergence by Daniel Bjarnason is indeed a composition from the land of the ice and snow. Barren landscapes with an occasional geysir are set to notes.Especially in it's first part "Silence". The second and most dynamic part is called "Black Breathing", which is followed by the third and final part "Emergence". Returning to a bit more tranquil music, but with crescendo aspects.
The new music concert of the century. As such also acknowledged by a middle aged woman with the syndrome of Down, who was very proud having shaken hands with David Lang, during the intermission. After the concert she picked up some of the broken So Percussion sticks to take home as a souvenir.