Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: Reporting Live

Composer Ruby Fulton, whose orchestral piece Road Ranger Cowboy has been nominated for the 2010 Gaudeamus Prize, is currently live in Amsterdam to attend the 2010 Gaudeamus Music Week sponsored by the Muziek Centrum Nederland. Though she couldn’t fit us all in her suitcase, she has graciously agreed to bring us along virtually and will be filing reports of the ongoing festivities throughout the week.—MS
Composers on their way to the first concert of Gaudeamus Week at the Muziekgebouw
Composers on their way to the first concert of Gaudeamus Week at the Muziekgebouw

Greetings from the Netherlands! It’s an honor to be here participating in the 65th Gaudeamus Music Week. This week will feature music of 60 composers from 26 countries around the world. Besides the music, it’s great just to be here. Chocolate spread for breakfast, a couple holding hands on bicycles, Heineken in the hotel vending machine….I even experienced the phenomenon known as “free health care.” I sprained my ankle in Baltimore while rushing to catch the light rail to the Baltimore Washington International Airport and when I got to the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I was given a free examination, ace bandage sock thingy, and a pack of enormous 400 milligram hot pink ibuprofen pills. Nice.

Composer Kate Moore with performers from <i>Songs from the Open Road</i>
Composer Kate Moore with performers from Songs from the Open Road

I got in a day early to spend some time with friends in the Hague. It ended up being a lucky day to visit because the UIT Festival was going on, a celebration of the beginning of the season for all the different arts organizations in town. I got to hear selections from my friend Kate Moore’s musical theater piece Songs from the Open Road for harp and soprano. The performance took place in the back of a huge truck which they emptied out and rigged up with theater lights and a curtain. About 30 people climbed up a ramp to enter the truck and hear Kate’s beautiful settings of Walt Whitman. I heard more of the songs that night at a bar called Rootz, where I met all kinds of wild and crazy musicians, including a couple of the players in the Holland Sinfonia, who will play my orchestra piece on Saturday evening.

The view of the river Ij, from the Muziekgebouw
The view of the river Ij, from the Muziekgebouw

Last night at the Muziekgebouw was the first concert of the Gaudeamus Festival, performed by the Nieuw Ensemble. I knew the performers were badass when the violinist broke three bow hairs in the first five seconds of the opening piece on the program (Ordalia della Danza by Italian composer Paolo Ingrosso). I enjoyed the whole program, especially a piece called Mach Kein by Korean composer Myunghoon Park. It was for horn, violin, and soprano with electronics, with repeated fragments of a bizarre text which aligned with strong and simple musical gestures in the violin and horn and something like a club beat in the electronics.

One of the directors of the festival, Henk Heuvelmans from MCN, ended his opening comments to the concert with, “Enjoy tonight, enjoy this week, and then…enjoy.” Sounds good to me.

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