The quarterly Dag in de Branding Festival of Friday 2, Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December 2016 in The Hague, The Netherlands was entirely dedicated to composers of the so called Second Dutch School of the The Hague Royal Conservatory. On Friday there was a kind of foreparty at the Nutshuis. Martijn Padding, head of the Composition Department of the Royal Conservatory, introduced the Dag in de Branding Festival by describing the Second Dutch School:"The Hague School. There is a lot of misunderstanding about it. It is easier to say what it is not, than what it is. But if you ask me what it is, I would say it is a mentality, it is an attitude, it is a way of looking at the world and reacting to it as a group. And this mentality was consolidated and developed in and around the most ugly building in the world. And this building is standing just one kilometre from here. It is The Hague Conservatory. The Composition Department gave birth to unbelievable composers. Very influential composers and they wrote amazing things. It's also true it started around, after the composer Kees van Baaren became the director in the Fifties. It exploded in the Seventies with people like Louis Andriessen and Dick Raaijmakers. It is also true that stylitically seen that it was far more one thing, as it is right now. But I think the multi-coloured form of The Hague School right now is as impressive and important then it was in the Seventies. And you know what, this metality, this not being neat and being critical is very much alive. So, we are very happy with Dag in de Branding that they decided to make a special edition about this subject and they organised for tomorrow evening a unbelievable event. They invited all kinds of alumni. Old students from our School. They come together. And it is really marvelous. I have already seen for instance Alejandro (CastaŮos), who is somewhere here. I have taught him 16 years ago. And I just met him yesterday. And now he is a fantastic composer himself and a teacher in Mexico. The School invited Kate Moore, Oscar Bettison and Justin Christensen to come to us and to teach the students and to work with the students preparing the works for tonight. And it is wonderful for a teacher to see that your own students became fantastic composers and became fantastic teachers. And I just walked in the lessons and I saw they sometimes do much better than I. This is the best thing a teacher can happen. Because the ideal for a teacher is that you are not necessary any more. And I am feeling very comfortable that the legacy is in very good hands."
Then the stage was set for Jonathan Bonny playing the snare drum in Rain. A composition by Kate Moore. Starting off with tipping the drum with his fingers. He increases the volume and rythmicality, also using the ironwork of the drum. And than gradually slows down. Ending the part with gently tipping the drum with his fingers of his right hand. With his left hand he picks up his drum sticks. And deploys an uptempo, rythmic experience, not forgetting the ironwork of the drum. And over a sequence with bouncing drum sticks he finishis this part with an enormous crescendo. He again tips the drum with his fingers to end the piece in a tranquil way.
The piece Sculpture #3 by Icelandic composer ThrŠinn HjŠlmarsson had it's world premiere on 21 April 2011. Then performed by Ensemble Klang. The brand new Catchpenny Ensemble played that piece with a different instrumentation: Two flutes, guitar, percussion, cello and oboe. Musicians sitting among the public play a projected video score, which is visible for both the audience and the performers in concert. A fascinating experience with musicians and audience alike watching the video spellbound.
Next on the programme was Oscar Bettison's piece Apart. Four players working with two tuning forks apiece and electronics created a soundscape.
Students playing Apart
After a break and chance of concert room the stage was for percussionist Konstantyn Napolov and his extensive equipment. He played wood in Woodpecker by Louis Andriessen. He started with two stick and finished the now very rythmic piece with four. Followed by Couple by Martijn Padding. A piece for marimba and gongs and in the latter part a bass drum. A highly energetic and difficult to play composition. But what a sound.
After the second break Kate Moore's cello solo composition Homage to my Boots was performed by Junya Normura. A prudent start to the piece with arco and pizzicato, later slapping of the strings, combined. Suddenly the composition shifts into an dynamic sequence with virtuoso twist. Only to lead to a poetic mid section. The finale is with very long notes and goes from intensive to ultra soft.
The Van Mieris Trio took the stage: Olfje van Klein (violin), Rogier Tamminga (cello) and Rik Kuppen (piano). Trajectories by Justin Christensen was on the music stand. Indeed representing movements by certain objects.
To round off the concert students of the Composition Department played Arco. Which was composed by Oscar Bettison and Pete Harden. This duo-composition is part of a series commissioned by Slagwerk Den Haag (The Hague Percussion) in which ten duos of composers were asked to write a piece for the ensemble. Celebrating the collaboration between John Cage and Lou Harrison. Martijn Padding: "And it went well, no trouble, Oscar, right?" Oscar:"No trouble, very easy." Martijn stated:"You stayed good friends afterwards as well." Circling coins over a piece of metal. Spinning around pieces of metal on the floor. Circling with metal over gongs, scratching with abrasive paper over wood, mortars, circling a coin in an empty glass and all kinds of objects were used to generate musical sounds. In a very coherent and disciplined way.