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Newsletter 6: August - December 2004

My summerbreak is over on August 20 as flutist Eleonore Pameijer and I play as guests on a concert of Dutch-Surinam flutist Ronald Snijders and guitarplayer Robie Faverij on the Blues- and Jazzfestival of the city of Delft. We play a number of duopieces and improvise with the four of us. Ronald is really a great communicator. He succeeds to charm the audience with his playing and his comments between the pieces.

Later that month is the UITMARKT, the traditional opening of the Amsterdam cultural season. There Eleonore and I present our 6 Continents Project during two short concerts in the building of ‘Muziekgroep Nederland’. The performances at the UITMARKT are always packed with people. Of course this is a nice ambience to play in, though one can have his doubts if in this way really new fans of contemporary music will be recruited.

On the last day of September I travel by train to Hamburg where I play on the first of October in the ‘Haus für Kunst und Handwerk’. I stay in the house of composer Georg Hajdu and his wife, the American pianist Jennifer Hymer. On my program is a.o. a Blueslike piece which Georg composed for me. Jennifer has organised the concert. It’s inspiring to hang around with them for two days. Furthermore Hamburg has more character and is worth seeing more than the average German city. I play first performances of works by Elena Kats-Chernin and Ian Munro (Australia), Moises Bertran y Ventejo (Spain) and Bart Spaan (the Netherlands).

On October 7 (my birthday) I play in the Pieterschurch in Leiden during a symposium of the Veerfoundation. This is a kind of think tank of the University of Leiden, which chooses a central issue every year, around which lectures and workshops are being organized. This year the theme is ‘Frontiers’ and my bluesprogram is all about frontiers and crossing of frontiers. In a half hours time I can perform a piece from each of the 6 Continents and so I can demonstrate the cross-border character of this project.

In november Eleonore and I play the third round of our 6 Continents Project. This time the dutch contributions are by Hanna Kulenty (the Netherlands /Poland), Ron Ford (the Netherlands / USA), Christina Viola Oorebeek( the Nederlands / USA as well) and the foreign ones by Valton Bequiri (Kosovo), Gao Ping (New-Zealand/ China) and Lalanath de Silva (Sri Lanka). We have invited Gao Ping and Lalanath de Silva to attend the concerts and they also introduce their works. In addition Lalanath also plays the rabana (a Sri Lankan drum) in two mouvements of his Suite ‘Droplets of Music’. The first performance of this round is on november 5 in the Amstelchurch in Amsterdam (again organized the Icebreaker) and we repeat the program on november 6 in the ‘Vishal’ in Haarlem, where we allready presented the two preceding rounds of the project. On november 7 we play in Eindhoven ( Axes Foundation / de Witte Dame) and the following weekend in den Horn, close to the city of Groningen in the north of Holland. In 'Westerklavier' Eleonore gives a workshop for a group of flutestudents about the various modern flutetechniques which she will use in the concert afterwards. The participants are really motivated. During the intermission they can play her bass- and altoflute and later on they improvise with me. It’s there baptism of fire but Eleonore is very good in making the students feel at ease and so she manages to seduce them all to improvise.

On november 15 I leave for a tour to Brazil and (mainly) Bolivia. In 1999 I already played in Argentinië, Uruguay and Chili, in 2001 in Brazil and again in Argentina. Latin-America excited me and I wanted to visit other, less westernized countries on this huge continent. Bolivia represents one the most authentic parts of South-America. The Netherlands Embassy in la Paz was ready to give me logstic support and HIVOS, a dutch organization for developmental aid, which already enabled me to go to Cuba in 2003, approved my plans to be supported by their cultural fund. In april 2004 Gilberto Mendes, the grand old man of new Brazilian music, had spent a week in the Netherlands to witness the first performance of the work he wrote for Eleonore and me. Now he was willing to organize a recital for me at the University of Sao Paulo. I stayed in Gilberto’s house in Santos, a city much more more quiet than Sao Paulo which is an hours drive away. Gilberto, 82 years young now, is still composing actively. On november 17 I play my bluesprogram at the Sao Paulo University for a hall filled with music students and their teachers. The sounds of the city accompany the music all the time in the not too well isolated hall.
The following day I fly to la Paz. The capital of Bolivia is situated at an altitude of 4000 m. The airport El Alto is the highest in the world. Many visitors are suffering here from altitude sickness. The moment I enter the hall of the airport I feel very dizzy as there is some 40 % less oxygen in the air. But first I fly on to Cochabamba where a temperature of 25 - 30 degrees Celsius and an altitude of only 2500 m. make this city the ideal place to get used to Bolivia.
On november 20 I give a lecture recital in Cochabamba in the house of the Russian pianist Nadia Lapitch and that same evening a recital in the somptuous Palacio Portales where I play o.a. two new blues by Bolivian composers Oldrich Halas en Oscar García.
The second time I arrive in la Paz, the next day, I feel nearly like normal. On my day-off composer Oldrich Halas gives me an extensive tour through the city. On November 22 I give a lecture at the Conservatory, where I also can study Bolivian pianomusic at the library. In the afternoon I rush between some radiostudio’s for interviews. In the evening there is a concert at the residency of the Netherlands Embassy and on november 23 I finish my tour with a recital at the Teatro Municipal in la Paz in the framework of the Festival of new music in la Paz and Cochabamba.
Pictures from this trip can be seen in the Photo Gallery.

On December 15 I can stay closer to my home. On that day I’m doing two lecture-recital at the Academy of Music in Schoten, close to Antwerp (Belgium) on their yearly conference of music teachers: one about my Bluesproject and the other about jazzinfluences in contemporary music for piano.

On December 17 Eleonore and soprano Irene Maessen together with my colleague Ralph van Raat picture a musical portrait of the ‘Composersgroup Amsterdam’, made up of composers John Borstlap, Joep Franssens and Jeff Hamburg. The concert takes place in the beautiful ‘Ruïnekerk’ in Bergen. We perform a.o. a new songcycle by John Borstlap. This concert once more proves that contemporary composing is absolutely compatible with emotion and intelligibility.

Musically the year of 2004 ends with a tour toegether with Eleonore to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. My last visit to Israel had been five years ago, in 1999. By that time the peace process seemed still to be in progress but in the meantime the second intifada is lasting already over four years and the future in the region is more uncertain than ever. So the circumstances for giving concerts there aren’t particularly ideal at present. On the other hand the invitation we got from the Museum of the Diaspora, Beit Hatefutsoth, in Tel Aviv to play our program with music by completely or nearly forgotten jewish composers from the Interbellum, had been luring enough to overcome our hesitation. We put together a program with works by Leo Smit, Dick Kattenburg, Marius Flothuis, Lex van Delden, Rosy Wertheim, Erwin Schulhoff, Alon Nechushtan and Jeff Hamburg. Dick Kattenburgs carreer as a composer was brutally finished as he was murdered by the nazi’s in 1943, aged only 24 years. The same fate struck Leo Smit also on a relatively young age. Rosy Wertheim could go into hiding but never composed anymore after the war. Lex van Delden and Marius Flothuis were active in the dutch resistance movement. We played a worked by Flothuis that he composed while he was in a internmentcamp in the dutch town of Vught. Erwin Schulhoff found himself in a risky situation while being jewish as well as communist. He died in 1942 in the camp of Wülzburg in Bavaria. We programmed also works by the young Israelian composer Alon Nechushtan and by his jewish, Dutch-American colleague Jeff Hamburg.
We play this program in Tel Aviv in the Beit Hatefutsoth Museum on December 19 and at the University of Haifa on the 21st. At the residency of the Netherlands Embassy in Herzlyiah we play a program with classical works and a selection of pieces from our 6 Continents Project. The same program we perform in Bethlehem, at the Bethlehem Academy of Music, directed by Prof.Saleem Zhoughby from Bethlehem University. There we make many contacts with Palestinians, which hopefully will lead to a new and longer visit to perform in the Palestinian Territories.
Pictures from this trip can be seen in the Photo Gallery.