Afternoon Tea Trio and Duets

The final day of the July house concert festival at the Monument House Utrecht, Netherlands is dedicated to exploring the future for classical musicians. Egyptian dinner for those who stay (reservations required) to discuss.

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Also known as Trio Afternoon Tea and Piano Duets

subtitled: Musicians Open Day

What do we want to do after hosting two consecutive concerts from our home? Chill out.

I want to hear the brand new trio of French horn, concert harp, and soprano — an unusual combination.

Trio Afternoon Tea: Emile Kaper, Kitty de Geus, Maria Pozdynakova
Trio Afternoon Tea: Emile Kaper, Kitty de Geus, Maria Pozdynakova

I want to play and hear the new multi-hand piano duets that did not get performed in San Francisco.

But most of all, I’d like to get the two pianists Nathanael May and Brendan Kinsella to share their views on the future for professional classically-trained musicians and conduct a career workshop. To lure musicians to participate in the discussions on topics close to their hearts, I am inviting a professional photographer and videographer to make press photographs and videos. I am inviting Chef Hany to once again provide an Egyptian feast for all. We will have workshops on how to launch a concert tour, writing professional biographies, and advanced networking skills.

Like the two previous events in this weekend of house concerts at the Monument House, there will be organic wine tasting, raffle draw, and silent auction. What’s different is that the performances are FREE to the public. The dinner is again 18 euros (but including a glass of organic wine).

Musicians get a discount of 10 euros if they recruit 1 dinner guest; 5 euros if they recruit 2 dinner guests; and a free dinner if they recruit 3 dinner guests. Otherwise, they pay 15 euros (not including wine, which is 2 euros per glass). In other words, musicians (performer, composer, conductor, teacher) pay nothing if they get 3 guests to reserve/pay dinners, 5 euros if 2 guests, 10 euros if 1 guest.

Discussion panels topics:

  • future of classical musicians’ career (given budget cuts), i.e. how to survive as a musician after budget cuts
  • work life balance: how to have a career in music and have a family
  • concert touring: how to do this, costs and benefits, contacts
  • house concerts: variety of approaches, audience development
  • music for a cause: fundraising, publicity, and the new revenue model
  • what do you need to have a career in music? website? photographs? social media networking?

To reserve, visit the High Note Live website.

The concert itself is FREE — or rather, by donations only — similar to the Glass Vase Concert of 2011 concept.

"Blue and White Vases"  24x36 acrylic on hard board by Rob Judkins (2011)
"Blue and White Vases" 24x36 acrylic on hard board by Rob Judkins (2011)

2010: a year in reflection

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo traveled and performed in three continents: Europe, Asia, and North America in 2010. Among the highlights were house concerts, concerts in churches, collaboration with other artists, and showing others how to produce concerts.

As the last blog post in 2010, we would like to thank all readers for reading, referring, commenting, and supporting this blog. 2010 has been an incredible year for our piano guitar duo. We have never traveled as extensively in any year as this one. We have never collaborated with so many people as this year. We have never had such a variety of gigs.

Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands
Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands

We began the year in the Netherlands with our usual concerts.

In February, we made a weekend trip to Belgium to open a new exhibition with a selection of solo, duo, and improvisation in beautiful historic Brugge. It was one of several collaborations with other artists.

In April, we made a whirlwind tour of Taiwan, introducing ourselves to the Taipei Rotary Club and a string quartet in Taipei.

From January to April, we coached new house concert hosts on how to produce concerts from their homes, culminating in our debut of the 30-minute long Grand Potpourri National to open a new concert series and the release of our first CD Summer in the home of an artist.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo CD Summer
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo CD Summer

In May, we organised our biggest house concert yet: a dozen musicians in 4 different concerts in one day! The Glass Vase Concert was free entry with cover art commissioned for auction. The bonus was the chef-catered Egyptian dinner for 50 people, who queued for seconds.

All the insights from our experience of producing house concerts and interviews with others were presented in a paper to economists at an international conference in Copenhagen in June.

Besides performing as a duo, we also worked with other musicians such as French horn player Emile Kaper and American cellist Stephanie Hunt. We found that piano and guitar worked well with other instruments and the audiences love the idea. We programmed one house concert in Amsterdam with our duo, Robert’s solo guitar of Bach Chaconne, piano and cello, and finally piano, guitar, and cello.

In September, we traveled to Zeeland in the southwest coast of the Netherlands to give 5 concerts in 3 days. It was a busy month, made busier by our reluctance to cancel any concerts including those that took us by surprise and decided upon last minute (impromptu).

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the coast-to-coast America Tour, from Boston to Sacramento in 5.5 weeks. We thank our hosts, guests, and everyone who made this tour happen. We had no idea it would be so empowering and fantastic.

What next? Who knows? We bought ourselves one way tickets to paradise and started a new blog to lure our friends to come visit us. We look forward to seeing our friends from Davis, Houston, Seattle, and Nebraska in the first few months of 2011.

Hope you have enjoyed these blog posts. 2011 promises to be an entirely different year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

BEST WISHES TO ALL!!!

Piano and guitar in the Monument House Utrecht, Netherlands
Piano and guitar in the Monument House Utrecht, Netherlands

Concert in Oosterkerk, Amsterdam

On Sunday 19th September 2010, we classical musicians will once again compete with the famous “Dam to Dam.” I say we will compete WITH not compete IN this “Dam tot Dam” because we are competing for the attention of the audience and the logistics of getting to the church on time. The Oosterkerk, like other central attractions, will not be reachable by private car or bus. Thus it’s vitally important that anyone what wants to attend our concerts know just how to get to these two concert venues with respect to the marathon.

On Sunday 19th September 2010, we classical musicians will once again compete with the famous “Dam to Dam.” This 26th edition of “Dam tot Dam” (Dam to Dam) is the largest running event in the world and the largest business run of its kind. The name comes from the start and finish cities of AmsterDAM and ZaanDAM. [More information in English here.]

I say we will compete WITH not compete IN this “Dam tot Dam” because we are competing for the attention of the audience and the logistics of getting to the church on time. The Oosterkerk, like other central attractions, will not be reachable by private car or bus. The main roads will be closed to traffic to allow the 10 English Mile, the 4-English Mile, and the mini Dam tot Dam.

The organ in the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam
The organ in the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam

A year ago, the third Sunday in September, we gave a free concert of contemporary works in this 17th century church. No longer used for religious services, the church offered regular organ concerts and art exhibitions for the community

We were being paid a flat fee so it did not matter how many people came. The concert itself, like this year’s, was entirely FREE to the public. Unaware of this marathon, we arrived to a deserted Amsterdam that Sunday morning. We got off at Muiderport station and walked a good 15 minutes with our costumes, guitar, music stand, and music scores. It was all quiet on the eastern front (oost means east in Dutch). There was enough space for several hundred.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Oosterkerk in Amsterdam, September 2009
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Oosterkerk in Amsterdam, September 2009

Only 20 people came to the free concert.

We wondered how the Funen Concert at nearby Funen Park 125 (also on the east of central Amsterdam) fared at 15:00.

This year, I will be giving a concert with French horn player Emile Kaper at 15:00 i.e. AFTER the Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo concert. Unlike the Oosterkerk concert, the Funen Concert pays the musicians based on a percentage of total revenue. This year it’s 10 euros per ticket at entry. The maximum capacity is 40. Reservations are not required but requested. Thus it’s vitally important that anyone what wants to attend our concerts know just how to get to these two concert venues with respect to the marathon.

Empty seats at the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam
Empty seats at the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam

—- continued on next blog post: How to travel around Amsterdam during the Dam tot Dam

What is stopping you from attending a free concert?

Perhaps this fast-paced society of ours is too fast to stop you to sit down and experience a concert. Perhaps this is exactly the reason why you should.

Today I ran into a music connoisseur and house concerts advocate at the local sports club. Although she has been very busy with her work, she has not stopped encouraging others to go to the concerts I promote.

She said that many international students are curious and interested but are stopped by self-made excuses such as

  • it’s for the rich
  • it’s for the exclusive
  • I won’t feel comfortable there
  • thus it’s not for me.

Coincidentally I received a message from my Linked-In Group (Aficionados of Classical Music) about transforming the traditional concert for a new audience. [How to sell classical music to the masses, Times Online] [Full text of the RPS lecture of Alex Ross in 6-page PDF] This made me pause for thought.

Getting new audiences to traditional concerts requires getting old audiences to invite and encourage them to go. Like the music connoisseur I ran into this morning, music is to be shared. I get little result by telling people to go to a concert I don’t go to. I get much better results by inviting people to go with me. My concert reviews are nearly all written after I’ve gone to a concert with somebody else.

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy going to concerts alone. I do. I nearly always go to concerts alone because I don’t have time to invite someone or wait for someone to decide and meet up with me. We live in a fast paced society. Everyone is busy. That is my assumption

Perhaps this fast-paced society of ours is too fast to stop you to sit down and experience a concert. Perhaps this is exactly the reason why you should.

Ironically our next free concert for the public is given on a day in which the major roads in central Amsterdam are blocked for the “DAM TOT DAM” — a 10-mile race from Zaandam to Amsterdam. It was the same story exactly a year ago when we gave a totally different programme (contemporary). Only 20 people came to this free concert because of this event. But I’m sure given enough notice, Amsterdammers will find ways to circumvent the road and traffic blocks this year.

Next concerts in Amsterdam:

Sunday 19 September 2010 at noon: FREE ENTRY
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo at Oosterkerk, Amsterdam
Traditional programme: own transcriptions of Queen of Sheba, Winter, and original work for piano guitar – the Grand Potpourri National

Immediately after this concert, I will be giving a house concert with French horn player Emile Kaper at Funen Park 125 a short walk away. This one hour concert of romantic and classical horn works takes place at 15:00. Entrance is 10 euros at the door.

Emile Kaper, French horn
Emile Kaper, French horn

The music after the concert

What happens after the official concert is over?

When there are other musicians in the audience, something phenomenal occurs. They jam. They improvise. They even sing opera. That’s how they communicate with each other.

It’s extremely late (12:45 am). In less than seven hours I have to get to our second recording session. I have to be wide awake and alert for it.

But this can’t wait…. I will simply have to update this blog when I have more time.

What happens after the official concert is over?

Continue reading “The music after the concert”