Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: A Cornucopia of Composition

Composers Donnacha Dennehy, David Dramm, and Louis Andriessen after a concert
Composers Donnacha Dennehy, David Dramm, and Louis Andriessen after a concert

Day three of the Gaudeamus Festival was even more music-packed than the previous days, with three concerts in three different venues, and performances of eighteen pieces, including seven world premieres. Yowza!

The 12:30 p.m. concert was presented by Orkest de ereprijs, a wind-heavy large chamber ensemble based out of Apeldorn. It was fun to get to hear them play again, after working with them a couple years ago at the 2009 Young Composers Meeting. They played a very Dutch-sounding program, including an exciting first performance of An Irish Process by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, one of the jurors for the competition; and a new piece by one of my favorite composers of all time, Richard Ayres, called No.44 (diary pieces). I was a little disappointed not to see Ayres at the concert, but one of the sentences in his bio in the booklet pretty much made up for it:

“In 1989 he accidentally rubbed an old copper teapot, heard a whooshing sound, and mysteriously found himself next to Louis Andriessen who was teaching him how to compose music.”

Pianist Pascal Meyer performing Fabian Svensson's <i>Toy Piano Toccata (in Black and White)</i>” width=”275″ height=”207″ border=”0″ valign=”bottom”><br clear=all> Pianist Pascal Meyer performing Fabian Svensson’s <i>Toy Piano Toccata (in Black and White)</i> </td>
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<p>Speaking of Andriessen, he made an appearance at the two evening concerts, and it was very cool to see such a legendary composer checking out the festival.  Highlights of the evening concert at the Muziekgebouw included Swedish composer Fabian Svensson’s piece for solo toy piano, <i>Toy Tocatta (in Black and White)</i>, played brilliantly by Pascal Meyer; and another cool piece by Dennehy, this one an edgy mixed quartet with electronics called <i>Glamour Sleeper II</i>. </p>
<p> As if that weren’t enough, there was an 11 p.m. concert at Bimhuis, a more casual venue upstairs from the Muziekgebouw.  Electric violinist Monica Germino put on a great show.  On the first piece, <i>Fuzz Box Logic</i> by David Dramm, she used five different pedals and I really felt like I should be listening standing up, instead of sitting down eating my french fries with mayo.   </p>
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Electric violinist Monica Germino in her blue dress
Electric violinist Monica Germino in her blue dress

The highlight of the day for me came at the very end of the night, with the premiere of Julia Wolfe’s With a blue dress on (‘for multiple Monica’s’). It was based on the folk song with the lyric “pretty little girl with a blue dress on, stole my heart and now she’s gone.” It opened with a slow build up of live violin and taped violins, which was eventually interrupted by sample-like vocalizations of the folk melody, in the electronics and also sung live. It started rather innocently but continuously unfolded in unpredictable ways into something darker and strangely beautiful.

I feel like I’ve already heard enough good music to go home happy, but the concerts continue through Sunday. Next up, gamelan.

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One thought on “Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: A Cornucopia of Composition

  1. smooke

    Thanks for writing these
    Ruby-

    I love reading these reports. Your descriptions are most visceral and allow those of us still in Baltimore to vicariously enjoy your experience along with you. Best of luck on Saturday!

    -David

    Reply

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