FEEL FESTIVAL HEERLEN
Monday 13th of June, 23:55
Home again. After the tour in Russia I immediately travelled to Heerlen for 8 days filled with percussion in the FEEL Festival. It was a very nice week where professional and amateur musicians met each other and the audience. I think this festival is an example for many organizations in the world, not only in the cultural field. The idea to setup a project where amateurs meet professionals and where both can learn from each other is a very nice concept.
On Sunday we had a workshop with young musicians followed up by a concert. I gave a workshop on percussion in the morning and in the afternoon two youth orchestras joint their forces for a wonderful concert. It is beautiful to see young people having so much fun on the stage.
On Thursday I shared the stage with Arthur Jussen, Lucas Jussen and Ramon Lormans. We played a program containing duo pieces for piano and percussion and as the final piece of the program the famous Bartok Sonata for two pianos and percussion. It was very inspiring to work on this highly professional level. Bartok wrote an extremely difficult piece for 4 players. The piano parts require a virtuosic technique, a big sound control and a developed rhythmical precision. The percussion part is a lot about colors but also rhythmical precision. The Timpani player is lot of times the conductor, deciding new tempi and leading the group. But overall the piece asks for a lot of imagination where all the 4 players travel together trough different sound worlds. While being on stage I felt like being in a movie. I started the movie with a low Timpano roll, the introduction by the piano’s follows. This Timpano roll gives immediately a character to the entire beginning. A dark sound, I imagined a small boat with two men rowing in a dark and foggy ocean. There is no clear sight, after the boat starts to move faster while we go to the next section.
I think imagination is a big subject for musicians. We can imagine sounds, characters and movement. But for me the imagination of a picture or image is even a bigger thing. When I play I often see these kinds of scenes, like this boat rowing trough the water, slowly, it takes a lot of power to move the boat, it is silent, we only hear the wind, we don’t see anything, only a wall of fog. By imagining this picture my whole body transforms into this feeling. Then I start to hear the sound that belongs to this feeling. From there I can start playing and project this feeling through the instrument. I believe this projection is not only noticeable in sound but also in body language and that imagination is the strongest tool we as musicians, or maybe even humans, have.
On Saturday I gave a lecture to about 30 conductors of wind bands in the Netherlands. We had a very interesting discussion about the way of communicating to musicians, the education of young percussionists, the roll of the conductor and I showed some easy solutions and sounds on some instruments. I find the education of young percussionists very interesting. Percussion in general developed a lot in the last 30 years. In the way of educating we can still modernize a lot. A basic matter I find is that young percussionists often start with only drumming on a snare drum for instance. Which is of course great fun, and fun is important. But a drum already has a quite fast an acceptable sound compared to playing for example a Violin. How do we get young percussionists to open their ears? To start listening to the sounds they are playing?
Maybe the answer is easy; singing and moving? Playing together with other instrumentalists from the same age is not only great fun but it is also very good for young children to learn from each other. We, percussionists, can still develop the education of the next generations a lot. I feel that there is a task for professional percussionists to investigate this matter.
Then on Sunday we had the closing concert with the Royal Wind Band of Heerlen. I invited Xi Zhang to join me for some chamber music written for Marimba, Vibraphone and other instruments. The program consisted out of classical music with a development to Latin American music mixed with African music. On Saturday evening Rachel (Xi) and I had the brilliant idea to call our dear friend Aly N’Diaye Rose to join us in the concert. So on Sunday we had a big surprise for the orchestra and the audience. Aly joined us in the end after we played already 90 minutes of music from composers like Alfred Reed, Mario Castelnuevo Tedesco, Leo Brouwer, Tito Puente and many others. Then in the end of the concert Aly started singing together with the audience. A big party on stage and in the hall created big smiles. We ended up with the famous Mambo by Bernstein with special percussion parts written by Francisco Javier Piñero from Venezuela.
It was a very nice week in Heerlen, I like to thank the organization for all their hard work. Bert and Valerie great job, the orchestra for their amazing playing, my colleagues Rachel, Aly, Ramon, Lucas, Arthur for sharing the stage, all the conductors for sharing these nice ideas, the young percussionist for being so eager to learn, the warm audience of Limburg, Parkstad Theater, Adams and everyone else who was part of this amazing festival.
Now off to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for the next project.