Sunday 6 May 2012 it was heavy slamming at the Dutch Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. In cooperation with the Dutch chapter of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) the Percussion Department of the Conservatoire staged the Day of Percussion. This included demos, workshops and concerts for and by toddlers to grown ups and amateurs and professionals.
Students of Murk Jiskoot
First I attended a concert by Murk Jiskoot and his students. Murk Jiskoot is a percussionist with the Hague Philhamonic (Residentie orkest) and the Metrople Orchestra. Beside that he teaches percussion at the Royal Conservatoire. Murk demonstrated a loop machine with which he could add new layers to the played rythms. After that his students invaded the stage and together they played mostly swinging Latin music. On I went and witnessed tiny boys playing on percussion amazingly. They follow the Project Introduction Percussion Education at the Conservatoire.
The boys of the Project Introduction Percussion Education
But the main event for me was the performance by Slagwerk Den Haag, an ensemble consisting of six percussionists and dedicated to playing new music. Leader Fedor Teunisse introduced the programme and instruments to the audience. The group started off with two parts of Drama, a piece by Chinese composer Guo Wenjing. Three players (Fedor Teunisse, José Garcia and Juan Martinez) tear highly intriguing sounds from little Chinese cymbals, while also producing some vocal outcries.
The second composition was written by Hugo Morales Murguia, titled Enclosure. A solo piece for cajón. A cajón is a box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front face (generally thin plywood) with the hands. José (Pepe) Garcia starred in this compostion i which he not only used his hands but also his feet to play the cajón.
The full ensemble rounded of the concert with a brilliant perfomance of Iannis Xenakis' composition Métaux (Metals). All six instrumentists (Fedor Teunisse, José Garcia and Frank Wienk, Joey Marijs, Niels Meliefste and Wen Hsin Chen) play an instrument called SIXXEN (a combination of "six", for the number of musicians, and "xen", short for Xenakis), which is an instrument Xenakis constructed specifically for this composition. The instruments all consist of nineteen metal plates with the SIXXEN all microtonally differently tuned. The piece itself is based upon shifting of tempi, with the six SIXXEN eventually coming together. As I understand the six SIXXEN should be regarded as one instrument. A noteworthy performance by Slagwerk Den Haag at lunchtime.
Slagwerk Den Haag