After our duo concert Monday afternoon, my American friend guided me on two different trams to get to a meeting at Rokin 111, Amsterdam. It was the address of the new “Music Centre the Netherlands” Muziek Centrum Nederland, or MCN for short. Until a year ago, Gaudeamus, Donemus, and the Dutch Pop Institute were three separate entities. Now they are merged as one and housed in an unmarked building in central Amsterdam.
I was curious why my 209-page bachelor thesis on sight-reading (piano) did not get nominated. Was my thesis too long (certainly the longest submitted) or that the topic was not as timely as that of gaming? Surely, I did not lose to guitar hero! The MCN Music Thesis prize was a 500 euro cheque and probably a lot of publicity. While I was compiling the PDF version for submission, someone in Madrid had offered to buy my thesis. I didn’t know what it was worth. But I hoped to find out here.
Before the award ceremony began, I introduced myself to two men sitting near the window. Ger and Gerard were librarians at MCN. It was my first visit to MCN, and I did not know what exactly MCN represented.
The librarians were impressed that I managed to conduct a conversation entirely in Dutch.
Are you American?
No, I’m not. Why? Do I have an American accent?
Well, you have a similar accent to Vanessa Lann, the American composer.
Yes, I have heard of her. I’ve never met her though.
Or David Dramm, another American composer based in Amsterdam.
He was one of the composers-in-residence who taught me at Utrecht Conservatory. There’s another American composer. He was a guest lecturer, Ron….?
That’s it! He was just leaving Duke University when I was there. In fact, it was my piano teacher, Randall Love, who suggested that he go to Amsterdam to compose new music. Holland was a place where new music got performed, he had said to Ron Ford.
Are you American?
No, I’m not. Definitely not. But I’m amazed how many American composers have settled in this country.
I mentioned another composer-in-residence, Chiel Meijering. I had ordered a piece he wrote for guitar and harpsichord. While the guitar part was clearly written, the keyboard part was not. I complained that the handwritten manuscript of 1981 was difficult to read, and as a result, my duo would not study it for performance.
Bring it back. Let’s see what we can do about it.
What do you mean? I had already emailed Chiel, the Dutch composer famous for cranking out music at high speeds, that I preferred to read computer notation. He had replied that his piece was written before that era. ‘n Dame scheert haar benen (Lady Shaves Her Legs) thus laid in my pile of promising sheet music for our duo, nearly forgotten until this conversation.
The next day, Tuesday 24th March, I brought the Meijering sheet music to the library. And from there, I was led to Donemus, the famous publishers of new music in the Netherlands.