Effusion: a cross domain exploration through video and music

A year ago I got to know a film maker who introduced a new approach to our Monument House Concert Series. We called it “cross domain exploration.” Some call it “cross over” and others “interdisciplinary collaboration.” We decided to experiment with an invitation-only free house concert in March 2009 called “Effusion.”

Advertisements

A year ago I got to know a film maker who introduced a new approach to our Monument House Concert Series in Utrecht, Holland. We called it “cross domain exploration.” Some call it “cross over” and others “interdisciplinary collaboration.”

We decided to experiment with an invitation-only free house concert in March 2009 called “Effusion.” The film maker took the raw video from a film about different ways to travel in Utrecht. I worked with pianists to play 4-hand duets of new works of an Amsterdam-based composer. Each work was based on a method of transport: by foot, bicycle, car, boat, etc.

I thought of all the pianists I knew, both professional and amateur, and invited those that would enjoy participating in such an evening. I practised a piece with my psychologist student. I practised another piece with a fellow Rotarian. A computer programmer practised with a conservatory student. We prepared for the evening of 21st March 2009 with great anticipation.

The film maker brought six bottles of fine red wine from his neighbour who supported such artistic collaborations. The composer and the film maker met on the evening of the house concert. Robert Bekkers and I ended the concert with a preview of the composer’s new work for us, for debut in Spain.

We had grand plans to do a podcast. In the end we released a youtube clip of one duet (below). I am finally documenting that event which marked the beginning of new collaborations. [The following video can be seen in Safari 4.0, Firefox 3.6, Google Chrome, or Opera 10 Internet browsers.]

The composer was Heleen Verleur. The film maker was Julian Scaff.

Some comments from the house concert guestbook:

It was a truly marvelous evening, in a very pleasant setting, with just the right mix of people, and great cookies. The impromptu mixing video and music made for a very interesting experience. And thank you very much for your surprise performance of Fire. I could see that Heleen was delighted! And so was I.

t was indeed an extraordinary evening. I told you I didn’t really feel like coming, I was tired after a full week of teaching the violin to lots of people and needed a break. To my great surprise and happiness the evening turned out to be just the experience I needed. It was as if I’d had a holiday in your lovely house. I was delighted by your hospitality.

Heleen’s music touches me, she reminds me – as do her twins – of the atmosphere of the 20-ties, I hear that in a lot of her music too. Most of the music was performed very well I found, especially “fire” I really enjoyed. Yes, of course, I am a violinist after all, I loved Vivaldi in this way.

Interesting to have music and film together. Sometimes it was like, because of shaky filming and the character of some of the pieces, as if we were watching something very old. A number of times I have improvised with clowns at management trainings and this reminded me of that.

I found there were a lot of very interesting people, people that can be friends. I feel we were truly sharing. That is what sets this situation apart from “normal” concerts. really enjoyed the (small) part of the concert and all of the really nice time after last Saturday.

I’d like to thank you and I think part of the enjoyment, besides the music which was very interesting was also the lovely and relaxed way in which you brought it all! For me, it would have been nice to have had a really good description of how to get there………although I guess now it’s much much clearer already!

I’d love to come again. (Also there is a selfish reason – I am especially grateful for the opportunity to experience performance nerves again and to take another step to overcoming them). I was of course lucky to find such an outstanding young pianist as Stein for my duet partner. I tried not to have any expectations, but I gathered that the audience very much enjoyed Helene’s music (though there was probably not a single piece of the duet delivered flawlessly!)

Before coming to the event, I already knew that I would find the same friendly atmosphere of the previous concerts, where the cosiness of the environment erases the (physical and metaphorical) distance between artist and audience without being detrimental to the quality of the artistic performances. However, this particular event differs from the previous concerts in that the attention to novelty is not confined to the premiére of musical compositions, but it involves the construction of a bridge between music, visual arts and architecture. Both the original pieces of music played and the video clips projected during the performance are indeed complementary in describing the different movements in urban space that are associated to different means of transport.

I liked the experiment, and I would like to attend similar events in the future. It’s possible that some friends of mine will join me; on the other hand, it’s unlikely that I might get in contact, at least in the short term, with businesses that can support the event.

Effusion: a cross domain exploration house concert
Effusion: a cross domain exploration through video and music, Monument House Concert Series, Utrecht, Netherlands, 21 March 2009

Music in house concerts in the Netherlands

Stichting Muziek in Huis, which translates to Foundation Music in House or Home, is in its 11th year of operation, providing live music to venues where people live — i.e. their home. They are care-taking institutes such as nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and clinics. All musicians are conservatory-trained and must pass auditions. The foundation provides publicity, bookings, payments, and opportunities for musicians early in their careers.

This is our third consecutive year playing for venues in the “Music in House” concert series in the Netherlands. Stichting Muziek in Huis, which translates to Foundation Music in House or Home, is in its 11th year of operation, providing live music to venues where people live — i.e. their home. But these are not your average private homes. They are care-taking institutes such as nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and clinics. All musicians are conservatory-trained and must pass auditions. The ensembles range from duos (like ours) to string quartets or other combinations. The foundation provides publicity, bookings, payments, and opportunities for musicians early in their careers.

Every location is different. Last Sunday 14th February several of guitarist Robert Bekkers’ former guitar students and their parents came to our concert at the Zandzee in Bussum. It was our second time there, and we remembered that it was on the top floor of an elderly home where residents live quite independently. This observation I gathered from the lack of wheel chairs and nurses. [Below: video taken just before our concert.]

Although the concerts are organised for the residents, their family and relatives are also welcome. No reservation is required beforehand, though it’s good to call to double check. Sometimes it’s extremely packed, standing room only. At other times, like last Sunday, it’s comfortable and spacious. There is usually a minimal charge to cover the cost of coffee and tea during the intermission.

Over the years, we have invited our own friends, students, and contacts to come. Their presence makes our performance more special. Knowing some in the audience creates that extra tension to push us further towards our goal.

I’m sure there are organisations such as SMIH elsewhere in the world. It is not only a service for the elderly audiences who are no longer able to live independently but also for the eager musicians willing to travel.

A violinist classmate from conservatory and I interviewed the SMIH founder about programming live music for the elderly audience. We learned that we should choose and order the music by mood not genre. [Link to one page abstract of this masters elective research paper.]

With this in mind, our piano guitar duo begin our new 2010 programme with Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba to warm up and cheer up. Then we settle everyone down with Vivaldi’s Winter. How are elderly audiences different from the younger generation? In the case of the Bussum concert where the age ranged from 16 to 90, I don’t think there was a difference.