April 7th, 2017. The fifth and final day of the fiftieth Spring Festival of the Composition Department of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. The closing Festival was an homage to former teacher Gilius van Bergeijk, entitled Soirée van Bergeijk.
Beside studying Oboe, Alto saxophone and Electronic music Gilius studied composition with Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. From 1972 until 2016 he taught Electronic music and Composition at that same institution. Van Bergeijk was an epoch maker in the free jazz and imporvised music in the Netherlands. He was a member of outstanding ensembles: Instant Composers Pool and Orkest De Volharding. And for some time he had his own ban: Gilius' Haagsche Hofje.
I remember being present at a performance of the Hofje in Scheveningen in the Theater aan de Haven, many many yers ago. It was a so called Stamp concert. The formula of Stamp concerts is a self portrait of a composer in sounds. All band members had ample opportunity to show their solistic skills. Hornist Richard Anijs fell back on a classic theme, much to the amusement of Gilius. At that concert a piece called ´Buurman is een stuk´ (Buurman is a babe) was played. In which miss Buurman, an amateur saxophone player, performed the solo part.
Gilius van Bergeijk
In 2016 Gilius collected the Open Oor 2016 (Open Ear) award of the Stichting Trillende Lucht (Vibrating Air Foundation). A bi-annual price. The Foundation stimulates componers who create a specific world with theur music or who clearly are in the process of creating such a world. The jury: 'Gilius van Bergeijk composed a unique collection of works, of which the basics are strictly conceptual. The pieces are obstinate, not coquettish at all and politically engaged. Van Bergeijk is autonomous operating artist, without doing concession to fashion or trends. His mental legacy is of great influence on contemporaries and on many generations students he taught.'
But let's concentrate on the Soirée van Bergeijk, a portrait concert on Gilius van Bergeijk. In his introduction speech Gilius said:"The basis of all is the answer to the question 'Why does someone decent and a nice person like me becomes a composer of nasty electronic sounds most people call distortion etc.? Now the answer to that question is quite simple. Why I call it simple, because I can show you. Which I will do." As a youngster he plugged a loudspeaker of some 100 years old to 110 Volts electricity. He later realised what electricity really sounds like. With a microphone next to the loudspeaker he let the audience hear electricity.
With the metalic electronic composition Pro Juventute the concert opened. A kind of 'Sturm und Drang' piece from 1984/85, with an ending of voices and distorted voices.
Then former collegue teacher David Kweksilber entered the spotlight. David delivered a brilliant performance on Bass clarinet of the likewise brilliant composition 'Pan', from 2001. A piece especially written for him. It starts like this. David said: "The mythological Greek figure Pan skips to the ancient Greek hills and sings three songs. Here is what inpired by Oscar Wilde's poem." After which David recites the poem. Followed by the three songs by the bass clarinet. A first very uptempo song with good use of bass tones is followed by a more midtempo song, to end with a song with melodic approach. To close out with Wilde's poem.
For Be prepared by pianist CarlosCastro van der Elst the piano is stuffed abundantly with pillows, quilt and mattresses. Which gives the music an alienating effect but also a strange kind of purity.
Live electronics in the Worldpremiere of S-S-S-S-S-S, composed in 1971. Lauge Dideriksen conducts players German Medina Calle, Rob Jones, Orestis Willemen, Cindy Giron, Victor Oller Segura and Sara Zamboni in this piece. A splendid transformation of a classical composition.
Next Abel Fazekas (clarinet) and Sebastiano Evangelista (piano) played Piece of Cake (2012). A tonal piece transforming into a more atonal midsection, only to pick up the more tonal beginning to conclude the composition. I am not an expert, but it doesn´t sound easy to play at all.
To conclude the Soirée the electronic composition ´Een Lied van Schijn en Weezen´ (A Song of Truth and Semblance), which is a rearrangement of the fourth part from Gustav Mahlers 'Kindertotenlieder', was played.
After the piece a deserving applause befell Gilius. He directed all performers on stage to share in the homage. And with a bow Gilius thanked the musicians.
A few Photos