Saturday December 2nd 2017 the Australian-Dutch composer Kate Moore received the Matthijs Vermeulen Award 2017 from Henriëtte Post, Director/Manager of the Performing Arts Fund NL. With this award she received a sculpture by Jeroen Henneman and a cheque of €20.000,00. This biennial prize was set up back in 1972 and named after Dutch composer Matthijs Vermeulen.
Kate received the prize for her composition The Dam. She originally wrote this piece back in 2015; commissioned by the Canberra International Music Festival, Australia. In origin the work called for soprano and ensemble (including didgeridoo and baritone guitar). For the British Icebreaker ensemble she reworked the piece. Voice and didgeridoo were replaced by a pan flute. For this latter version she now was awarded the prize. Being the first woman ever to get this award handed over.
The award ceremony was framed by a concert by Kate Moore's handpicked musicians forming the Herz Ensemble. The concert was kicked off by Upside down a composition by Gaudeamus 2017 Award winner Aart Strootman. A tranquil start of the concert. But a composition with compulsory notes. With Joseph Puglia, playing a handbell, kicking off each part of the composition. Always followed up with Meiyi Lee on vibraphone; to be joined by electric guitar (Aart Strootman) en electric bass guitar (Kate Moore) on the perpetual layer of the hand bell. The fading out guitar ending the piece.
Followed by Olivier Messiaen's – Quatuor pour la fin du temps. That is to say parts of this piece: – Abîme des oiseaux (part III for clarinet solo)- brilliantly performed by Annette Schenk. - Intermède (Part IV); a short part by Joseph Puglio violin, Annette Schenk clarinet and Lidy Blijdorp cello. – Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus (part V for cello and piano). A striking ecstatic cello part by Lidy, ably accompanied by Geerten van de Wetering on piano. Passed on to: – Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus (part VIII for violin and piano). A soulful interpretation by Puglia and Van de Wetering.
Pan flutist Matthijs Koene shone in Daan Manneke's solo piece – Faux Bourdon. A hellish difficult piece to play, but played with extraordinary expressiveness.
The Award ceremony
Then Director/Manager of the Performing Arts Fund NL, Henriëtte Post, took the stage. She praised Kate Moore and said:"We see artistic innovation which is brought about by a growing awareness, also in the performing arts, that anchoring, connecting and support does not diminish the intrinsic value or quality of art. In other words the Perfoming Arts Fund NL pleas for a prominent role for the Kate Moores of this world when thinking about a future culture policy." And also quoted from the Jury report: 'we were enthusiastic about ‘The Dam’, because it is a thrilling, compelling composition as well as a rich sounding of the epoch.' Then it was time to hand over the award and the first Dutch performance of The Dam. With Kate on electric bass guitar.
The Dam opens timidly with organ, violin, electric guitar and cello. But gradually the volume of the theme is pumped. Joseph signals Meiyi to join with vibraphone. Kate's bass guitar and Annette's bass clarinet join in and the piece evoluates into a very rhythmic sequence. A pulsating theme follows. An finally the pan flute joins in with staccato notes. The strings taking the lead in a minimalistic theme, followed by the vibraphone introducing a more rhythmic sequence taken over by guitar and organ. Exploding into a crescendo, evoluating finale, founded on the pulsating sounds of bass guitar, bass drum and organ.
The Herz Ensemble