For the 52nd time the Composition Department of the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague staged it's annual Spring Festival. I visited two concerts and by the kindness of the composer could watch the video of an afternoon concert.
Students of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and of the Royal Conservatoire joined forces with Ensemble Klang to stage a music theatre performance titled 'A Paradise built in Hell'. After the book of Rebecca Solnit in which she explores behaviour of mankind in the western world during disasters.
Composer Mari Mako put the terrible hurricane Irma to notes from beginning to peak, to the quietness of the eye of the storm, to the second peak and the end, with abrasive sound. Industrial heat Juan Luis Montono Santos deals with the 2017 heat waves in Pakistan. Shrine by Germán Medina Calle depicts the information overload and peoples numbness for sufferings of others. Cindy Giron composed Nuugaatsiaq after a Greenland tsunami caused by a landslide. The theatrical aspect was presented by actors dealing with a mobile of wooden geometrical forms; textiles to enclose human beings and a dangling ladder climbed by an actor who fights of all quasi human limbs hanging down between de two jambs of the ladder.
Sara Zamboni premiered her piece 'Dark Vocalise' for voice (Elena Lorenzi) and five channels fixed media. I was not able to attend the performance, but she kindly sent me the link to the video of the spectacle. The pre-recorded voice is also of Elena. Sara stated that she always uses recordings of the singer who sings the live part. The electronic music starts low volume. Gradually the volume increases. Elena starts singing creating a dark and doom atmosphere. After an operatic intermezzo Elena turns her back on the adience and conducts her pre-recorded singing.
Bass in Space
On Friday April 4th, 2019 'Bass in space' was staged. In every edition of the Spring Festival an instrument is highlighted. Composition teacher Yannis Kyriakides:"We've been doing collaboration with instruments departments for a long time. And are going lower and lower, with this year the double bass. So we worked together with department lead Quirijn van Regteren Altena and his studetns." Quirijn took over:"We started in October 2018 introducing the instrument to the composer. And had two speed dates. I think the Composition Department is the most important one at our Conservatoire. No new piece means no more light. Our double bass department is unique in the way we don't have borders between musical genres. We do jazz, old music and new music. At our Conservatoire we have some 50 brilliant composition students from all over the world."
Six double bass players, conducted by Lauge Dideriksen, performed Door Streken by Eva Beunk. Starting in the lower regions the music evolves into a pizzicato feast. Followed by a rhythmic intermezzo ebding in a cacophonous way. The finale being an highly complex soundscape., with at last a siren like finish.
Three double bass players played Engine by Kasper de Oude. One of the three players hitting the strings with a short stick/his hand/bow/pizzicato playing creating a rhythmic base layer for the other two to vary on the given themes. To end the piece almost unisono.
Felix Cheung wrote a piece called Self Care Question. For seven double bass players. With more or less one player basically playing the instrument en caughing louly. The other players had a more theatrical role, like brushing up the instrument, pointing the bow at the audience, lifting the instrument, brushing nails with the bow etc. Finishing in all players going subsequently taking on a sleeping position to end the performance.
In the pitch dark nine double bass players performed Bass to space by Izak de Dreu and conducted by Jonathan Alvarado. With log tones a tranquil space flight it was.
Then the grand final with twelve doublebass players, conducted again by Lauge Dideriksen, with Looming by Filip Sternal. With one bass kicking off and subsequently the others joining in with bursts of short notes and an increase of the volume. The finale being the same notes estafette-like played, by the players from left to right. As the composer stated the composition explores the sound structure of a beehive. The voices together creating a swarm effect.