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.

  6 comments for “My debut in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and more

  1. Marcel kamp
    18/01/2020 at 15:21

    Hé René,
    Ik hoop dat je ik je vanavond zie bij het concert dat Maxim geeft in Boskapel in Nijmegen!
    Het concert met het VU-orkest heeft een prachtig programma! Wat heb je veel totaal interessante muziek uitgevoerd de laatste jaren!
    De lijn werken Ensemble 88: met levende componisten is nog steeds een van je supersterke krachten.
    Dat je zo’n rare maatsoorten kunt aangeven hebben we al gemerkt bij je auditie in Nijmegen: nooit heb ik iemand links een andere maat zien aangeven dan rechts – zo herinner ik het me, in een stuk van Leo Samama, toch?

  2. Frank Boehme
    18/01/2020 at 21:33

    Dear René
    it all sounds fantastic. Congratulations and good luck.
    Best wishes Frank

  3. Heleen de Witte
    18/01/2020 at 22:36

    Hee René, nou Maxime heeft geschitterd vanavond, wat een lef om zo’n moeilijke Mozart te spelen! Jammer dat je er niet kon zijn.
    Het was leuk om Astrid weer eens te zien, niks veranderd!
    Veel groetjes van Heleen

  4. Henriëtte Sterenborg
    19/01/2020 at 14:32

    Dag René,
    Je timmert lekker aan de weg zie ik. Veel succes in het Concertgebouw! Heel jammer dat je er gisteravond niet bij was. Maxime heeft fantastisch gespeeld en wij hebben best aardig begeleid. Het publiek was erg enthousiast en terecht ! Ik speel nog steeds met plezier 2e hobo bij Flos. Heb al een tijd weer Hoboles en hoop nog enige jaren te kunnen spelen, al is het tussen de schuifdeuren. Je kunt trots zijn op je kinderen! Geniet ervan en verl succes en hartelijke groet.
    Henriëtte Sterenborg

  5. Trude Hofland
    19/01/2020 at 23:50

    Ha René,
    Blij verrast iets van je te horen op deze site en dat is nogal wat!! Ik heb enorm genoten van het vioolspel van je zoon Maxime. Jammer dat je er niet bij kon zijn. Het debuut in het concertgebouw lijkt me geweldig voor je. Ik denk dat ik kom luisteren. Heel veel succes en groet,
    Trude Hofland ( 2e violiste Flos)

  6. Cees Hazenberg
    26/02/2020 at 20:04

    Hoi René

    mooi te lezen wat je allemaal doet.
    Chapeau René ik ben onder de indruk.
    Maar dat ben ik al sinds je met iedere individuele hand 2 verschillende maatsoorten sloeg.
    Dat was in : an unanswered question van Charles Ives
    Om meerdere redenen onvergetelijk.
    Trouwens jouw zoon gaat als het aan mij ligt een grote toekomst tegemoet
    Succes Rene1
    Warme groet. Cees

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