My debut in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and more

It has been a long time since I published my last post. This doesn’t mean, there was no news to mention, I was just very, very busy. Let me start with the latest news.

This month, on January 25, I will make my debut in one of the finest and most renown concert halls in the world: the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Although I visited the hall many times, I never conducted there before. As a guest, I will lead the VU-Orchestra in a fantastic programme, including Dvoraks Noon Witch, Janaceks Taras Bulba, Stravinskys Chant funèbre and Scriabins Poème de l’Extase. I am already looking forward to the majestic finales – with the impressive organ – of Janaceks and Scriabins pieces. If you want to be part of this experience yourself, you can buy tickets here for the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, or for the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven on January 23.

Since September 2018, I am teaching Orchestra Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. I had 5 students during my first year. At the moment, I teach 7 students, which I do with a lot of pleasure every week: we work on the conducting technique using my handbook (take a look here), on a lot of orchestral repertoire, we visit the Residentie Orchestra to learn from the conductor and the orchestra players, I gave a masterclass with an orchestra etc.

As usual in the last years, I visited Russia: this time the Tomsk Philharmonic Orchestra with a very classical programme (Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert) with a concert on the 17th of March 2019. As always this trip was organised with great precision by Elena Kostyuchenko. Many thanks to her!

In Bremen, I had some very special concerts. The last one was on December 16th. It was a cooperation between the departments of New and Ancient Music. The programme was very symmetric: Gabrieli (Sonata) – Kagel (Music for Renaissance Instruments) – Cage (4’33”) – Rzewski (Les moutons de Panurge) – Gabrieli (Canzona), so two old pieces at the beginning and the end and in the middle three modern pieces with the central silence of Cage. Beautiful!

A few days before (December 11) the ensembleANM played a portrait concert of the German composer Nicolaus A. Huber. Some problems appeared when we had to use a blank gun: five shots in a specific rhythm. The music academy didn’t have such a gun and the theatre couldn’t to lend us one. The gun shop in Bremen wasn’t a solution either, because none of us had a firearms licence. So I decided to buy a toy gun. Unfortunately, the shots were not loud enough, so therefore we pierced 5 balloons exactly at the moment where I shot with the gun in the air. The chicken on the photo is the egg timer I had to use in the same piece. On my facebook page you can see me using both instruments during the concert.

Earlier in 2019, I started a new concert series in Bremen, which is called “Was schreiben die Nachbarn?” (“What are the neighbours composing?”). In comparison with my own country, Germany has a lot of neighbour countries (9). In the first edition, I programmed 5 composers from The Netherlands: Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Joey Roukens, Christiaan Richter and Mathilde Wantenaar. The second edition will feature Czech composers.

Some two month ago, I worked with the German Ensemble New Babylon, conducting three world premiers. Two of them were together with the ensemble “Lauter Blech”. I was happy the composer Christoph Ogiermann could assist me in coordinating both ensembles in the extremely difficult piece by Heiko Müller: e.g. me conducting 5/8, 5/8, 5/8, 4/8, 5/8, 5/8, 7/8, 7/8, 7/8, 7/8, 6/8, the one ensemble playing in the first bar 5 notes, in the second 7 notes, in the third 4, then 3, then 7 etc., the other ensemble playing completely different things. But we managed!

In 2018, I conducted 6 world premiers, in 2019 even 10. It’s always a great pleasure to work together with composers and to help them with the best possible performance.

After having played several times with my son Maxime ( in different violin concertos during the last few years, I had – in January 2019 – the pleasure to perform together with my daughter Charlotte ( the rarely played and rather difficult second cello concerto by Saint-Saëns. She did a great job and of course, I was very proud of her.

The year 2020 will bring me to exciting places in Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Slovenia. I’ll report about it in my next post.

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