Back in the old days…

Apr 03, 2019 by SFTH in  Spring Festival Countdown
© Co Broerse Paul Termos, Martijn Padding, Cornelis de Bondt, Elmer Schönberger, Andries van Rossem

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

Please follow and like us:

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

Please follow and like us:

Technology is a football, the concert is a cake

Mar 30, 2019

On the first day of the spring festival there will be a very special concert (as on all the other days as well of course).

The composition department invited Nicolas Collins to fill an evening with his music.

He was happy to do so, made a program which will be performed by students of the composition department.

Nicolas selected four pieces, for this concert. In the selection process he was mostly concerned with one thing: It had to make use of the students as performers as much as possible. He is interested in what happens if performers are working together, he wants to challenge performers by putting them into situations in which they don’t exactly know what is going to happen so that they have to creatively react on a short notice.

‘If you perform a piece you can really figure out how that stuff has been made’

Nicolas collins at the rehearsal of ‘Roomtone Variations’

All of the pieces that Nicolas selected for this concert make use of electronics:

Students working on Nicolas’ piece

“My interest in technology is not so much that I want it to create new sounds, but at home we always called it a football. If you put 6 kids that don’t know each other in a playground and you put a football in the middle you have instant interaction, but if you don’t and they have to talk to each other it Is complicated. So, I tend to use technology more for organizational purposes then for it’s purely sonic ones.

I love to take risks, which means that occasionally stuff doesn’t work correctly. I want to perform proper experiments on stage. Neither the performers, the audience, or the composer knows what is actually going to happen, but as with a good cake recipe, you’re so happy when it comes out of the oven right!”

Blogpost by Eva Beunk

Pictures by Wilson Leywantono and Yannis Kyriakides

Please follow and like us:

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.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *