Composer meets visual artist

Apr 01, 2019 by SFTH in  Spring Festival Countdown

‘A paradise built in hell’ will be performed at Tuesday evening 19.30h in Korzo.

This performance is the result of a huge collaboration that already started in November. Students from the composition department, students from the Royal Academy for Visual Arts and the Ensemble Klang were working together on a so-called ‘Mixed Media Opera’.

From November on the creators met weekly to give shape to the theme: ‘the relationship between man and nature’.

Germán, one of the composers felt like there was a good connection in the group:

‘Things came naturally, we had to understand that we didn’t have to push anything, and give everyone space to do what they could do best’

One of the biggest challenges was, that the visual artists wanted to get inspired by the music. They had to wait for the composers to finish their notes and work with an electronic representation of the pieces.

According to Germán everything started to come together in the last three weeks. In the beginning this was still a bit difficult. The 14 students split up in four smaller groups during the writing process. This led to four completely different scenes. That was where the director came in, and together they were able to create a whole out of it.

The theme of this spring festival is ‘collaboration’. This project is THE example of collaborating composers. You are not only working together with the artists of your team, but also with the other composers, the director and the ensemble.

Germán: ‘You care for the whole thing, not just for your own music’

And that’s maybe how so many people can work together. They are all striving towards the same goal: An amazing performance.

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© Co Broerse Paul Termos, Martijn Padding, Cornelis de Bondt, Elmer Schönberger, Andries van Rossem

Back in the old days…

Apr 03, 2019

This year is already the 52th edition of the Spring Festival. We asked our teachers, former students of our conservatoire how everything was back in their time….

Calliope Tsoupaki: “It was the same building, it smelt the same, everything was the same. It was like now: busy. You have to imagine that me, Martijn, Yannis, Peter, (red: all composition teachers) we were all like you students are now. “

Both Calliope and Diderik Wagenaar confirmed that the Spring Festival’s chaotic level of now is nothing compared to their time. 

Calliope Tsoupaki: “We had to do everything ourselves. We had to find our way alone, also in the wild life of getting concerts and all that stuff. The spring festival was not so much divided in projects as it is now. So everybody was presenting their work, but it was us who took the initiative. For the rest it was not so different from now.”  

What made the Spring Festival special? “It was the sphere that was different than the rest of the year in the school, in the Spring Festival everyone was seeing you in a different way. And I remembered once Diderik was walking around and I had a piece for piano, and I remember that he came and to tell me “ok now perhaps it is time that you follow one more lesson with me”  and I will never forget that.


Calliope is supervisor of the Vocal Project which is already going on for 10 years. Together with Noa Frenkel, she coaches the composition students that are working together with students from the vocal department. 

“The vocal project is a very sensitive project. Vocal writing is always different than the rest of the instruments: the whole body of the singer is part of it. It is not like ‘oh I am gonna play a note and then it is ok with my instrument’, it has to be from the deepest part of the body created by singer. 

Noa is giving a lot of feedback on stage presence, and this is something you really need to have, because we composers don’t always give the right feedback on how we want the singer to stand. So during the rehearsals when Noa comes in, and she just says three words to the singer, the singer starts singing in another way. It is just the same piece, nothing changed, it is not that they practiced more.. This is the miracle of the vocal project.” 

The concert of the vocal project “Under the Same Moon” will happen on Thursday evening, 4 april at 19:30 in the Arnold Schönbergzaal, Royal Conservatoire.

Maarten Bauer (composer) and Viola (singer) during their rehearsal
Maarten Bauer (composer) and Viola Cheung (singer) during their rehearsal











Header picture: © Co Broerse

Calliope Tsoupaki and Guus Janssen (above)
Paul Termos, Martijn Padding, Cornelis de Bondt, Elmer Schönberger, Andries van Rossem, Joël Bons, Louis Andriessen

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Reflections from an Audience Member

Apr 05, 2019

During the interval of Tuesday afternoon’s concert (Sara Zamboni’s / Microtonal Pianos), we had a brief chat with Hup, who you might know from visiting many concerts of the composition department.

When talking to him, we found out that he had begun attending the Spring Festival four years ago.

He noted that this year’s festival includes works by composers outside of the department (notably Nicholas Collins and Arnold Schoenberg), which for him changed the mood of the festival.

What makes Hup come back to the Spring Festival is the diversity of music, which caters for his own need to be surprised. He admires that the music is ‘sincere and people have to do it’, which makes it interesting. He likes that the students’ music has a ‘sense of urgency’.

Blog post by Patrick Ellis and Eva Beunk

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Bass in Space

Mar 20, 2019

How much bass can you handle!? On the penultimate day of the Spring Festival, you will be tested.

Over the past few months, 5 composition students (Kasper de Oude, Felix Cheung, Filip Sternal, Izak de Dreu and Eva Beunk) and 12 double bass students have been collaborating for the Bass in Space project, which aims to demonstrate how versatile the Double Bass can be, as well as how interesting it is to put several Double Basses together.

The leader of the project, double bassist Quirijn van Regteren Altena, a soloist and longtime member of the ASKO Schönberg Ensemble is very glad that this is happening:

“I want to teach my students that there is more to life then Bach and Mozart.

Playing new music makes you feel like you live today and make you think about tomorrow.

You can compare it to the fashion of clothing, or to the exhibitions in museums.

We need to make sure that composers want to write for our instrument. Otherwise I am afraid that it [the double bass] will end up as a dinosaur.”

The close collaboration between the two departments in the end led to 5 very different pieces for 3 basses up till 12 double basses. In the different workshops they had, the 5 composers have experimented with lots of different material.

In Filip Sternal’s piece, he tries to evoke the sound of a beehive. Together with Quirijn, he organized an open rehearsal, where all of the twelve double bassists could ask Filip about the techniques that he has used in his piece.  Filip reflects on the rehearsal, saying that:

“I think in every piece you have to understand who you are writing for and what you are writing for. Today all the players came by to discuss the material of the piece and they were very active and asked a lot of questions, I am really happy about that.”


Yannis Kyriakides (left), the project supervisor and Filip Sternal (right), one of the composers for the Double Bass project.

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