Reflections from an Audience Member

Apr 05, 2019 by SFTH in  Spring Festival Countdown

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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Spring Festival 2019 Countdown

Mar 18, 2019

Are you ready!? In two weeks the 52nd  Spring Festival at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague begins!

Between the 1st and the 6th of April, there will be a diverse range of captivating music from the Composition students, along with performances from ensembles and solo artists including the Nieuw Ensemble, Ensemble Klang and the New European Ensemble.

Events will take place in the Conservatoire’s Arnold Schönbergzaal, the Korzo Theater and other spaces in and around the Conservatoire.

One of the themes of this year’s festival is collaboration. Throughout the week you will witness works by students of the composition department which have been worked on with Ensemble Klang and the KABK, as well as the vocal, classical, early music and the dance departments in the Conservatoire.

Over the next two weeks, we will keep you posted on all the ins and outs of the preparations, rehearsals, program, musicians, audiences, concerts and lots more!


Blog post by Eva Beunk, Patrick Ellis and Amba Klapwijk

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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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Composer meets visual artist

Apr 01, 2019

‘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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