November 11th 2018 at the Verkadefabriek. The final day of the November Music Festival in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. The renowned British Icebreaker, an amplified ensemble, undertook a short Brexit to present their System Restart tour, featuring compostions by women composers. Instead of playing Azure by Scottish composer Linda Buckley they presented a second piece by Anna Meredith. Icebreaker is led by flutist and composer James Poke. Who also introduced the compositions and the members of the Ensemble. Especially guest-violinist Gordon MacKay.
BBC-Radiomaker Kate Molleson:"Anna Meredith's piece Nautilus is from 2011. And in a way it contains the blueprints of the sound that has made her just so successful in recent years. Those brazing hornlines, the big strokes, the nervy dramatic baselines, the glitty propulsive rhythms." After this blazing music Icebreaker followed this up with 'Orlok'. Another robust composition.
BBC-Radiomaker Kate Molleson:"Jobina Tinnemans is a Dutch-British composer who works with electronics, classical music and contemporary art. Her works have featured the art of page turning, knitters, hedge trimmers, kung fu and Shakespeare. Everything and anything can make it into Jobina's music. She is interested in non-musicians too. In the lineage of Cornelius Cardew." Her composition Throwing a window through another window starts in a laid back though compelling way. To gain momentum into a most energetic piece.
BBC-Radiomaker Kate Molleson:"Elizabeth Kelly. She is an American composer. She is based here in the UK. Her music really twists elements of rock and jazz into new shapes. And also lets memories of Chopin waltzes drift into the mix. This is a piece she worte in 2017 especially for Icebreaker: On Edge." James Poke, artistic director of Icebreaker, introduced the piece:"She makes use of particularly distorted guitar sounds and any sorts of effects used to create this edgy kind of sound and the piece is indeed called On Edge. The piece also has a contrasting middle section, which is apparantly inspired by the music that she used to play to her grandmother, when she was a child.
Kerry Andrew was commissioned by Icebreaker for The, what is it? The golden eagle? Kerry told about the piece:"The piece was very much inspired by a road trip that my husband and I took two years ago between Southern California and Arizona. And it is the first time I have really have seen these epic landscapes, especially around places like Joshua Tree Park. And so I wanted to create something that felt to the rocking and epic. And the title comes from a Donald Trump quote. He was talking about wind turbines. And trying to remember the name of some bird that might get cought in the windturbines. It is sort of ignorance of the natural world and the environment in general." James Poke:"Like a lot of Kerry's pieces it features elements of birds and folk songs or folk song type material. And in this piece the eagle is obviously represented by a soaring cello line in the middle. But also represented by some chords in the middle played by wind instruments and violin which is supposed to represent the eagle plucking at the eyes of the president, who is not Kerry Andrew's favourite person.
Kate Moore's The Dam is based on the rhythm of the sounds of cicades, crickets, frogs, birds, flies, spiders and other creatures living in water holes in the bush a sonic, pointilistic landscape. It was originally written for soprano, chamber orchestra and digeridoo. By request of John Poke of Icebreaker she came up with an instrumental version of the piece and replaced the didgeridoo for John by panpipes. And as written earlier she received the most prestigious Dutch composition award The Matthijs Vermeulen Prize in 2017 for this piece. This brisk but atmospheric composition was played extraordinary well by the ensemble. Giving this concert of coherent compositions a true finale.
After the concert I had a little chat with Kate Moore. She was very pleased with the festival and being composer-in-focus. But also she became fond of the city of Den Bosch. Beforehand she was a bit anxious about how the piece Lux Aeternam, the Bosch requiem would turn out. Kate told:"Well, hey it is a sixty minute piece and there were just two rehearsels. But it all turned out nicely. I am programming for Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam for February 2019 and it will include music by Jobina Tinnemans. Relax after this festival? No, tomorrow I fly to London and on it goes to Nottingham to lecture at the University." Never a dull moment in a composer's life.