This section is devoted to my dream projects. Below you are invited to read about the way these projects came on my path. You are more than welcome to skip this and find out more about these projects directly, by clicking on the different links in the menu.
I have always been interested in improvisation. From a young age I remember singing my own songs at bath time (more than anything, because I couldn’t remember the words to the ‘real’ songs). An important impetus then came from the piano. When my sister started playing the piano I was absolutely mesmerised by this instrument. I tried to keep up with my sister’s homework, but never was as quick as my sister and quickly stopped trying. Instead I had become interested by the sounds of the different notes as they came together: chords and how I could sort of play something that sounded a bit like what my sister was practising, but without needing to practice the difficult parts I couldn’t manage. My sister and I later started playing together and we still do! Find out more about our duo here.
A second important influence came in high school when one of my best friends introduced me to Jazz. I even played at some sessions in my hometown Utrecht on the clarinet (yes, I used to play the clarinet!). He also introduced me to a wealth of music, from the amazing Mystère des voix Bulgaires to music from India.
Music from other countries started to intrigue me. As a player of the recorder, the clarinet and later the baroque oboe I was always jealous of the ability of other musicians, like organists and pianists and even violinists, to play more than one note at the same time. In contemporary music I found solace in the technique of playing two recorders simultaneously and singing. At the conservatory I hunted down pieces that would give me the opportunity to hone this skill. Around that time I happened on the “Launeddas”, a triple oboe from Sardegna. This magnificent instrument has two melodic pipes and one bourdon and is played to an extremely high level of virtuosity to this day. More research showed me that in fact there are many wind instruments in the world able to play more than one note at the same time. This lead to my ongoing project “Voices of Ethnicity”. In this project I combine research into instruments, playing techniques and repertoire from around the world with new compositions, some of which by myself.
One of the many results of this is the programme De-Partita. In this programme I juxtapose Bach the organ player composing for solo flute with (ethnic) mouth organs from around the world.
Back to school; in my second year at the conservatory I met James Hewitt. This extraordinary violinist has a knack for improvisation and soon we started an ensemble. For lack of a name we recycled one of an ensemble he had formed but wasn’t active anymore: behold the birth of The Scroll Ensemble. After my early forages into improvisation through Jazz and self-taught piano noodles, I was ready to be awe-struck by the vast world of early music improvisation. Having started with a rather simplistic approach to La Folia, we were soon hooked and went on to improvise canons, concertos, fugues, (mini-)operas, theatre music, fantasias and are still going strong finding new approaches and inspirations from times when classical music was a living, breathing creature (More about my other dream ensembles, like my orchestra Symphonie Atlantique, can be found in the ensemble section).
This also led me to believe that Telemann’s flute Fantasias would be a simple way into improving my solo improvisations. These gems of pieces have been anchoring themselves in my heart ever since, providing an unimaginably rich jousting ground for my thoughts on, approach to, and practice in historical improvisation. I’m still looking for the right way of presenting this; more to follow at the designated area on my website.
Back to the opening paragraph. As a result of my early dives into piano improvisation and playing with my sister, I started to also compose and write. The first piece I can remember, which also won a honourable mention in a competition, was called The Birth of Aphrodite. I always felt like something was missing, probably counterpoint!
For a long time I didn’t compose or write anything, but lately I have started again. In the project Soli(tude) I brought together many aspects I hope to investigate more in the future: being alone on stage, performing music from diverse eras and styles, speaking to the audience and writing my own texts and music.
If you are interested, you can have a look at some of my creations. Here you can also find some of my work in arranging, amongst which an arrangement of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony (second movement) for recorder orchestra.