It’s been a while since my last post, so this may be longer than usual. It has been quite the spring and I have a lot to cover!
First off – Nadar Ensemble – what an amazing and crazy whirlwind of concerts, trips, and composer’s schools in no less than 8 cities in 6 countries across 2 continents. We first went to Keil, Germany to play our now well-routined Doppelgänger program at the Frequenz festival. This program includes Jodlowski’s solo trombone piece, OUTERSPACE in which I got to play really close to the public – I mean audience-nervously-thinking-about-holding-their-ears-close! Our band then made is US debut as the 2022 Fromm residents at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. We were invited to work closely with the PhD-composition students on new pieces written especially for our ensemble. Personally this concert was quite touching because not only did I learn how to use a CD-mute (it sounds wild!), my parents made the trip up to see us play. How wonderful it was wonderful to present this ensemble and my friends to my family. After Harvard it was back to the capital city of Europe for a rock-n-roll-style concert at Das Haus followed closely on its heels by our family show at Côte Jardin in De Bijloke, Ghent. And that was just May! In June, we first flew to Athens, Greece to play our newest (and fanciest!) version of FITTINGinSIDE, by Stefan Prins at the annual DARIAH-EU event. Then Nadar repeated my PhD-program, HANDS ON (hands off) to an incredibly appreciative crowd at the INMM conference in Darmstadt, Germany. Afterwards we headed off to Paris, France to play Pierre Jodlowski’s thrilling and enrapturing chamber opera Alan T.) at the Philharmonie. The last stop on our blizt across Europe was in beautiful and charming (and hot!) Plasencia, Spain. There we once again were invited as artists-in-residence for a composer’s school. This one was put on by the really hip Klexos Ensemble.
While I was in the States in May, I got the chance to work with an old school friend of my on an improvisation project, the amazing and unstoppable saxophonist, Tyrone Fredericks. He introduced me to another great musician from the Lehigh Valley, drummer Kevin Soffera. Together we spent a day in Kevin’s basement studio playing Ty’s numbers and putting together a cool little recording we hope to bring out by the end of the year. More on that later.
And lastly, I just finished off my first year as chair of the brass section at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. It was a year in which I felt like I was playing catch up constantly, but am grateful to my colleagues within the section and my fellow chairs for their help along the way and especially their patience. The brass group is full of great players and teachers, and most importantly, we all seem to share a collective vision. I must be doing something right because at the end of the year, not only did the school renew my brass position, they also asked me to act as chair of the research group Performance Practice in Perspective as well as teach two courses in Artistic Research. I am very much looking forward to the challenge both functions will present and am really grateful that I can continue pursuing my own research in the arts at this institution.
Roughly 10 years ago, I was welcomed into Nadar ensemble and shortly thereafter invited to conduct the group in a tour in Russia. What a trip! Now a decade later, I once again get to stand in front of my Nadarian friends and this time to defend my PhD. With my most heartfelt I wishes, I welcome you all to attend.
Over the last seven decades, the role of the conductor has evolved in new music ensembles that perform integrated concerts. It was problematized by John Cage; doubled (or split) by Charles Ives, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Mark Applebaum; manipulated by Thierry De Mey, Simon Steen-Andersen, and Stefan Prins; instrumentalized by Alexander Schubert, Alexander Khubeev, Michael Maierhof, and Pieter Matthynssens; and deployed tactically by Serge Verstockt, Jessie Marino, and Carl Rosman. For these composers and artistic directors and others in their genre, the presence of the conductor is no secondary phenomenon of the music, by an affirmative and active choice to deploy one to meet specific artistic and/or socioeconomic needs. The systematic study of this relatively new and developing situation allowed me to find tools and methods for forming the required piece-specific performance practices with the aim of better functioning as a tactical and curated conductor.
In a program with pieces by Serge Verstockt, Alexander Khubeev, Alexander Schubert and a world premiere by Jennifer Walshe, I will seek to defend my artistic findings into the Instrumentalization of the conductor in new music ensembles.
On the occasion of the World Humanist Day, Nadar has been asked to play Stefan Prins’ awesome ‘FITTINGinSIDE’ for trombone, soundtrack, walking audience, smartphone and Zoom conference call – with yours truly on the old trombone!
In case you missed it, yesterday evening’s Odysseia concert ‘Speechless Song’ was broadcast on Klara Live. The program centers around Luc Brewaeys’ famous work for soprano and crotales, once infamously written for the Queen Elizabeth competition.
I had the pleasure of conducting this group of fantastic musicians and soloists for two of the pieces on the program, both by Brewaeys: Painted Pyramids and the ensemble version of Speechless Song.
Bravo to all involved and especially to the soloists, Lieselot De Wilde and Frederik Croene!
On Sunday at 14h (CEST) Matrix [Centre for New Music] will broadcast Mátyás Wettl’s Nocturne played by Nadar Ensemble and Thierry De Mey’s Light Music performed by Centre Henri Pousseur and me! What a cool – or should I say, hot and enlightening – program!
The lamps for Nocturne have been made by the students from the SLAC/Fine Arts Academy in Leuven. And you can get a preview of those beauties by visiting Matrix’s online exhibition here: https://matrix-new-music.be/nl/lightmusic/
This performance of Light Music represents a huge amount of work done by Xavier Meeus and Patrick Delges of Centre Henri Pousseur who have taken charge of the technical revision of the piece. They have done an incredible job. It has also been really important to my own artistic research – and it’s a ton of fun to perform!
Tomorrow is the day – our conference Framing the Normal starts tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm (CEST) with a great group of presenters. At 7 pm the incredible Dr. Håkon Stene will offer a keynote address titled, ‘Notes on Post-Instrumental Practices.’ Come check it out: https://framingthenormal.wordpress.com/
Since you are already coming for the keynote, stick around for the evening performances in which Jessie Marino’s newest piece will be premiered by the RCA Guitar Ensemble. We will also feature Winnie Huang’s Tentacles and I will perform Thierry De Mey’s Light Music.
Winnie Huang and I have put together a two-day conference featuring pieces and presentations that all ‘Frame the Normal‘. Day 2 of that conference will feature Alina Taraban & Ensemble XXI playing John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra and How to make a monster by Sivan Cohen Elias performed by the amazing Winnie Huang.
Our evening show includes short programs by Haize Lizarazu playing music by Fran MM Cabeza de Vaca and Michael Beil and Yui Sakagoshi playing her own music as well as pieces by Sergio Núñez Meneses, Chatori Shimizu and Thierry De Mey. We will close the conference with a collective performance of Ajtony Csaba’s Music for the Eyes.
Next Monday evening at 20h / 8 pm CEST we will premiere both the newly revised version of Thierry De Mey’s Light Music and Jessie Marino’s brand new piece Six to Five. Also on the program is Winnie Huang’s cool duet Tentacles.
Light Music was written in 2004, however the amazing experts at Centre Henri Pousseur have spent the last year completely re-writing the electronics, finding new ways to make it more live and performer-dependant. The piece is so much fun to perform and I am really excited to be able to show it off next week.
Melissa Portaels and Rebecca Diependaele from Matrix [Centre for New Music] came to chat during the final rehearsal week Light Music and put together this cool little preview video (in Dutch):
The RCA Guitar Ensemble and I will premiere Marino’s newest piece, titled Six to Five. Jessie has created a really cool and fresh new piece for the ensemble. Come check it out next Monday evening.
This show takes part in the evening programming of an academic conference that Winnie Huang and I have put together as part of our PhD studies at the University and Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp (ARIA). The conference is titled Framing the Normal and we are thrilled to present Håkon Stene as our Keynote speaker. All the details of the conference, including links and the schedule, can be found here: Framing the Normal.
Happy to see that Thin Air, a solo-project I did at the behest of Jelle Dierckx and Lunalia Festival, continues to resound around the world. Here is a nice write up by Gail Wein on Classic Voice North America: