Ensemble Klang, driven by their artistic leader Pete Harden, embarked on a 10 month trip. The ambition was to perform the magnum opus of Fausto Romitelli, Professor Bad Trip, in extenso. Half of Ensemble Klang could join (Saskia Lankhoorn (piano), Joey Marijs (percussion) and Pete Harden (bass guitar)), because there are no trombones and saxes in this composition. So an Ensemble Klang XL had to be formed. And therefor Aart Strootman (electric guitar), Felicia van den End (flute - member of a.o. the New European Ensemble), Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer (clarinet - member of a.o. Nieuw Amsterdams Peil ), Frank Braafhart (trumpet - member of a.o. North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra) and three of the four members of the Matangi Quartet: Maria-Paula Majoor (violin), Karsten Kleijer (viola) and cellist Arno van der Vuurst were engaged. With Arne Bock responsible for sound and Meeus van Dis for lighting. And of course this composition and extended line up called for a conductor. No one else then Christian Karlsen was stepped into this shoes.
The piece was premiered at the Spui Theatre on May 14th, 2016. In succession the composition was played in Eindhoven (Axes Jazz), 's-Gravenland (Wonderfeel Open Air festival), The Hague (Korzo X Rewire Festival), Den Bosch (November Music Festival). And now the finale with a concert in De Doelen, Rotterdam on February 24th, 2017 (which I attended) and in Het BIMhuis Amsterdam on February 26th.
A sold out Eduard Flipse Hall at De Doelen that Friday night 24 February 2017. A special experience because the Hall is quite wide relative to it's length. An overpowering in your face (ears) Trip. A start with a kind of sirens sound instigated by the violin leading to a spooky sequence culminating into a crescendo. Complex structures follow in which piano and bass clarinet take the lead, gradually involving all players equally. An intriguing cacophonic sound, with now and then the bass clarinet and percussion on top. With strong contributions by Aart´s electric guitar. And with Saskia changing from grand piano to keyboard and back. All leading to a quiet, dark meandering sound to end the first lesson.
Lesson Two starts with distorted string sound. The musical impact intensifies, with the trumpet overpowering the rest of the instruments. Followed by the brilliantly played cello solo, with many low notes, by Arno. Which makes everyone speechless. The solo ending more and more pianissimo. On top of all the other instruments the guitar is primarius. In this part Pete´s bass guitar talks first. Then Arno takes over for a second solo effort. Again ending the lesson in a more laid back style.
In Lesson #3 the Trip internsifies even more. But it also has some tranquil sequences. The piano introduces an explosion of sound and light and percussionist Joey having the honour to bring the piece to an ending. To leave the audience in awe. With naturally a special applause for Arno´s performance.