April 9th, 2018. The real start of the 51st Spring Festival of the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague. This annual event of the School's Composition Department was opened by Head of the Department Martijn Padding. And also this year he came up with a sketch. Entering the stage with a megaphone he recited the 'rules of the etiquette that should be followed by the Festival visitors. So that everyone can have the best time possible'. He supported his act with three hotel bells and a maraca.
Then the floor was for Kluster5 to premiere five compositions; four by composition students and one by the ensemble's guitarist Martin van Hees. They first performed the piece 'C Major' by Joćo Ceitil. In this piece the ensemble was enhanced by elctronics. Joćo:"I have different materials. And they are quite recognisable in terms of harmonies, because they are like recognisable modes and keys. But the idea is how do you actually perceive them. The piece is about segregations and like how to blend and shift the perception in these different materials. The baseline is a C Major scale that is played whole the time. The C Major scale is concealed for different kind of reasons. Because of the speed, because of the context around that lets you not perceive it as a C Major scale. So that is the contrast."
Thanakarn Schofield from Thailand composed 'Raindrops' for Kluster5. He was inspired by a natural phenomenon which occurs back home on the first day of the rainy season. A damp atmosphere is suddenly and slowly broken by the evening sun into a golden dust. Until the rains drops and it becomes pitch dark. But the piece also develops into a storm.
Remy Alexander wanted to give the ensemble something to enjoin , which would fit them as a glove. He molded a Dutch song 'Alles goed' (Everything OK) into a kluster for five piece. Remy Alexander:"Well this song is by a band called 'En de repelsteeltjes'. It's nice, loungy, a nice dream. Well I see concerts of you guys it looks like you are a band. So when I started writing for you I felt like its a really nice ensemble. So I am going to do an ensemble piece, ensemble bla bla bla, classical music. And then I was listening to this song again and I realised: This is what they should be doing. The guitarist really doing sexy cords. And they should have a video clip with women and men half naked. And they should be on MTV. So if anybody from MTV is in the hall, please contact us. And we do a really cool video clip." Remy labeled the piece: FRWRD / alles goed.
Patrick Ellis:"The title of the piece is Unfolding Chamber Piece. Basically I started out with a small amount of material. Which essentially was then seperated and altered. So ina way when unfolding comes in to this it is like a book. There are all these pages which are connected. Similar paper in the same book. And we turn the pages unfolding. But they are not the same!" This piece is his fourth 'Unfolding' piece. And very much in style of the The Hague School. Meaning: Being highly energetic.
Guitarist Martin van Hees also contributed a composition. Martin:"I kind of made a homage to our ensemble. Because we already exist for 3, 4, 5 (?) years. Many years. Feels like we know each other very well. The first time we played together was at the master exam of Daan van Koppen, our saxophone player. And we played a really awesome composition called 'Horses of Instruction' by Steve Martland. And everybody loved it. And we kept playing together as a contemporary ensemble. I made a kind of homage to this piece. It is also about a horse. But this is a different kind of horse. It is a statue. A statue at the station of Groningen (a city in the extreme North-East of The Netherlands). That is were I am from. The statue is popularly called 'T Peerd van Ome Loeks (The horse of uncle Loeks) (also the titel of the piece). And everybody knows what you are talking about. So basically it is where the ensemble is from and were I am from. And hopefully where I am going from. Because it is a station and trains are coming and leaving. For me it the first time I am doing this kind of compostion. I am very happy that I can do this here. So that is where we are coming from and where I am going to, hopefully. To more compositions." In the annotation to his work Martin wrote: The composition consists of ten chords which are repeated in different rhythmic variations. This portraits the different kind of transportation over different periods of time. The long phrases represent the railway tracks and a smooth ride; the rhythmical part represents the cadence of riding a horse. Afterwards Martin confided:"I threw in every cliche.
A few days later at the Festival I was able to ask Patrick a few questions. Patrick:"I grew up in Surrey, UK, hearing soul music, Motown sound at home. My musical taste developed from pop music over alternative po, jazz, free jazz to classical music. But when I heard contemporary classical music I was stunned. I really could relate to this music. So I took up my composition studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Which Composition Department is actually molded after the same Department at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. This piece I wrote for Kluster5 was written in close cooperation with the musicians of which especially Daan and Martin contributed valuable tips. We first started in November 2017, had two workshops and five rehearsels. I wrote quite an energetic piece for them. Other pieces I wrote were more solemn. As a matter of fact I am going to write a composition for the The Hague based Residentie Orkest. To be performed in Ocober this year. So I will be quite busy this summer." And I complimented him with his appealing composition.