Monument House Concert 5 years on: Brendan Kinsella 2nd July 2011

Anne Ku remembers the piano concert of Brendan Kinsella and invites the guests to comment.

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Exactly five years ago on 2nd July 2006, we invited our friends guitarist Matt Gould and violinist Beth Schneider of Duo46 to open our Monument House Concert Series with the first concert. Fittingly entitled “Music of the Americas,” the one hour programme contained music by the American composers Astor Piazzolla, Robert Beaser, Allan Segall, and Jorge Liderman. Duo46 who flies from Phoenix, Arizona to Italy via Amsterdam every summer has a trio with pianist Nathanael May called the Strung Out Trio. On 1st July 2006, Dr Gould conducted a guitar master class at the Monument House.

It was much simpler then. Master class one day. Concert the next. My friend Linda from Wassenaar made carrot cake for the two dozen guests that gathered in the back garden after the concert.

Five years later, in contrast, the back-to-back concerts came with chef-catered pre-concert dinners, panel discussions, organic wine tasting, raffle prize draw, silent auction, discount vouchers for Chinese massage and manicure, post-concert organic luxury cookies, and home-made desserts generously donated by our neighbour Ita (on both evenings).

The piano room before the concert begins. Photo: Willem de Vriend
The piano room before the concert begins. Photo: Willem de Vriend

Three volunteers arrived early to anticipate the full house audience. Rotary scholar from Honolulu Robbieana Leung joined Amir and Susan, who had volunteered the day before at Nathanael May’s solo piano concert. As Eveline Scheren was arriving after dinner from another organic wine tasting, Susan took over the wine service.

Last year at the Glass Vase Concert where Egyptian cuisine was served, my Vietnamese friend in Houten offered her Vietnamese chef friend for a future concert. Chef Hong and her daughter drove hours to here with pre-cooked fried rice, chicken, noodles, pickled salad, and vegetarian dishes. The spring rolls were deep fried on location.

Vietnamese dinner by Chef Hong at the Monument House. Photo: Willem de Vriend
Vietnamese dinner by Chef Hong at the Monument House. Photo: Willem de Vriend

Once again the weather was agreeable to an outdoor gathering, necessary to make space for the non-dinner guests who arrived between 7:30 and 8:15 pm. One couple called to ask if it was possible to attend without prior reservations. Several more not on the pre-paid reserved guest list showed up. Luckily there was standing room.

Robert Bekkers played two solo guitar pieces to welcome Brendan Kinsella.

Full house at Monument House Utrecht Kinsella Concert. Photo: Willem de Vriend
Full house at Monument House Utrecht Kinsella Concert. Photo: Willem de Vriend

Brendan Kinsella apologised for playing Liszt in Utrecht where the International Liszt Piano Competition is held every three years. One Liszt fan who had attended every Liszt semi-final round later commented that she had never heard the pieces chosen by Kinsella. His programme is listed below.

“a la consolation” by Leonardo

” Angelus” and “Les jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este” by Franz Liszt

“Aubade” by Francis Poulenc

“Down by the Riverside” by Frederic Rzewski

INTERMISSION

“Sonata in C Major, op. 53” by Ludwig van Beethoven

Encore: “Erlkonig” by Schubert/Liszt

As a special treat, Utrecht-based American entrepreneur Katie Miller donated 100 luxury organic cookies including a box for silent auction. The winner took home a box of 20 cookies for her birthday.

The best part of the concert, for me, was sitting behind Brendan and experiencing his performance close up. I wonder what was the best part for the more than 3-dozen guests who attended this concert? Please LEAVE A REPLY below.

Brendan Kinsella gives virtuosic performance. Photo: Willem de Vriend
Brendan Kinsella gives virtuosic performance. Photo: Willem de Vriend

Remembering the Body of Your Dreams Concert on 1st July 2011

Anne Ku remembers the 1st July 2011 concert of Nathanael May the way she planned it and invites the guests to comment.

Rather than writing a review of the two back-to-back concerts on the first weekend of July 2011 at the Monument House, I would like to invite the guests to LEAVE A REPLY below with their comments. Already I’d like to thank Susan Raddatz for her photos and blog reviews.

What led me to organise solo concerts for two different artists on two consecutive evenings with two different caterers, plus fundraising activities, masterclass, panel discussion, and an opening act? Never at the Monument House, had we undertaken such variety besides the live music. Could it be a desire to reciprocate and replicate all that we learned on our 24-concert coast-to-coast tour of the USA since October 2010? Or simply a desire to share with audiences in the Netherlands?

There was the option to have the two American pianists to share a programme, each giving half a concert, and simply repeat it the next evening. Being a culture vulture, I wanted all of one artist, not twice of two halves. I mistakenly assumed that others could afford the time to indulge in two separate concerts on two consecutive evenings at the beginning of the summer holiday season.

There was no grand plan in organising these concerts. It was rather ad hoc and piecemeal, largely due to the fact that I was on the other side of the world when the planning began. In January 2011, I spoke to Nathanael May about his travel plans for Europe. For the first time since 2005 when he first launched his music festival in Italy, Utrecht was on his way.

Knowing how busy and popular organic wine tasting was, I booked Eveline Scheren immediately. Nathanael told me about Texas-based pianist Brendan Kinsella, who was a guest faculty at the same festival. I reserved 1st and 2nd July 2011 on my calendar. When I returned to the Netherlands on 28th May 2011, I started looking at the details of what Nathanael and Brendan were going to play. The one piece that stood out above others was Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis‘ “Body Of Your Dreams,” which I had first seen performed by Thomas Rosenkranz in Cortona, Italy in 2006.

By mid-June, with less than 3 weeks before the concerts, I considered adding a pre-concert dinner. Where would I get a chef? On Sunday 12th June 2011, just before my outdoor yoga event in the back garden, I attended a house concert of Carol Ruiz Gandia who mentioned that her friend had catered for more than 30 people not long ago. This was just what I needed to attract more people to come. Chef Alberto prepared an authentic Andalucian meal for 20 people on 1st July 2011.

Chef Alberto prepares a traditional meal from Andalucia, Spain. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Chef Alberto prepares a traditional meal from Andalucia, Spain. Photo: Susan Raddatz

As I wanted to try some of the fundraising techniques I learned in the USA, I decided to include a Raffle Draw, Silent Auction, and CD sales. Not everything translated culturally I soon discovered. Local merchants, unlike those in the USA, were not used to being asked to donate items for auction or raffle. I managed to get my fitness club on the other side of the canal, BodySports, to donate several summer passes (unlimited group lessons for 2 consecutive weeks) and Ton van den Ijssel, the bicycle shop behind our home, to donate several 100% T-shirts. The closest word in Dutch to “raffle” was “lotterij” or “lottery,” and the concept was strange in the context of a classical concert. Silent auction was even more foreign. Nonetheless, we did manage to encourage several risk-taking guests to put their bids for a barbecue dinner with us, guitar lesson, sightreading workshop, our 3-CDs produced in Maui, a set of speakers and amplifier, and Paul Richards “Fables, Forms, and Fears” CD (with Nathanael May’s Strung Out Trio).

Raffle table at the Monument House Utrecht. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Raffle table at the Monument House Utrecht. Photo: Susan Raddatz

Thankfully wine tasting was popular, and organic wine even more intriguing. By asking Ms Scheren to provide the wines, we hosts freed ourselves to attend to the artists and the guests. In the past when we purchased the wines ourselves and allowed the guests to pour their own, we risked certain guests drinking too much, staying too late, and causing problems with other guests. Verdict: wines should be served and not self-served.

Organic wine tasting from Biowijnclub.nl   Photo: Susan Raddatz
Organic wine tasting from Biowijnclub.nl Photo: Susan Raddatz

Quite late in the planning, I suddenly remembered that we had offered master class and workshop at two previous house concerts. Would anyone be interested in participating? The Dutch are fond of master classes, but the inclusion in the publicity was too late. Tom Rose, who recently launched his own blog for learning to play the piano as an adult, was the lucky recipient of the coaching of both pianists on 1st July 2011 from 5 to 6 pm. He played Haydn:  Sonata in F Hob XVI No. 23 1st and 2nd Movements and Martinu: Etude in F.  Last piece in Book 3 of Etudes and Polkas.

Masterclass: Tom Rose with Nathanael May and Brendan Kinsella. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Masterclass: Tom Rose with Nathanael May (left) and Brendan Kinsella. Photo: Susan Raddatz

The changing weather in the Netherlands was kind on 1st July 2011. We were able to hold the Andalucian dinner outdoors in the back garden. The highlight of Chef Alberto’s menu was the Pisto Cordobes acompanado con pan en aceite de la tierra: vegetables cooked for hours with tender loving care, resulting in irresistible mouth-watering heavenly goodness.

Traditional Andalucian dinner by Chef Alberto. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Traditional Andalucian dinner by Chef Alberto. Photo: Susan Raddatz

In the back of my mind, I wanted to hold a panel discussion, much like the one I facilitated at the house concert in San Francisco last November after a pre-concert dinner and sightreading workshop. Given the budget cuts in the arts and the negative impact of global recession, I was very much interested in the survival of classically trained musicians. Clearly our conservatory education had not prepared us for this. Could we learn from successful musical entrepreneurs? I invited Amsterdam-based mezzo soprano Carla Regina to talk about her foundation Voice Actually and pianist Nathanael May to talk about the contemporary music festival he founded in Italy. Both musicians went beyond the usual career path of performance to establish new vehicles that served others.

Panel discussion by Carla Regina and Nathanael May. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Panel discussion by Carla Regina and Nathanael May. Photo: Susan Raddatz

5 pm Master class

6 pm Doors open for pre-concert dinner

7 pm – 7:45 pm Panel discussion

8:15 pm Opening Act: Robert Bekkers, guitar

  • Andante Religioso from El CATHEDRAL, Preludio A. Barrios Mangore
  • Allegro from BWV 998 Prelude J.S. Bach
  • CAPPRICHO DIABOLICO M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco

8:40 pm Concert: Nathanael May, piano

Five Preludes
by George Antheil (1900-1959)
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
John Carollo (b.1954)

In a Landscape (1948) by John Cage (1912-1992)

Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental (1980) “for piano and tape” by Charles Dodge (b. 1942)

Intermission

Intermission. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Intermission. Photo: Susan Raddatz

Preludio (2011) by Ada Gentile (b. 1947)

Rain Tree Sketch II (1992) by Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)

The Body of Your Dreams (2004) for piano and boombox” by Jacob Ter Veldhuis (b. 1951)

Nathanael May selects the first raffle prize. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Nathanael May selects the first raffle prize. Photo: Susan Raddatz


Kinsella Concert 2nd July 2011

The second concert of the first weekend in July 2011 in the Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands features American pianist Brendan Kinsella, organic wine tasting, and authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Wines painted for Columbus Symphony Orchestra fundraiser, 16x20 acrylic on canvas, Rob Judkins (2011)
Wine and Strawberries, 16x20 acrylic on canvas, Rob Judkins (2011)

As I blog, I plan the details of upcoming concerts which could easily comprise a festival. These events are more than concerts. They have elements of music, drink, food, conversation, and fundraising. Dare I call it a festival? Or just a concert series?

Alternative names for the second concert in this series:

  • organic wine concert
  • Kinsella plays Rzewski
  • Vietnamese dinner concert
  • Beethoven, Poulenc, Liszt, Rzewski

Which came first? The idea of introducing organic wine to guests of the Monument House to accompany live music.

Next, pianist Nathanael May introduced the American pianist Brendan Kinsella who will travel with him to the Soundscape Music Festival in the Italian Alps the following week.

I contacted my Vietnamese friend to take up on her suggestion an authentic Vietnamese dinner after she experienced the Egyptian dinner at last year’s Glass Vase Concert. She then contacted Chef Hong who is available to cater for Saturday 2nd July 2011.

Kinsella is giving a virtuosic programme of the late works of Franz Liszt, the famous Waldstein Sonata of Beethoven, Poulenc’s Aubade, and the very American feel of Rzewski’s version of American popular ballad “Down by the Riverside.”

As with the previous evening (Body of Your Dreams Concert), there will be organic wines served by Eveline Scheren and fundraising for an artist-in-residence fellowship through a silent auction of items from the Monument House and other donations.

Saturday 2nd July 2011

6 pm Doors open for authentic Vietnamese dinner

7:30 pm Doors open for concert

Silent auction, pre-bidding online

8:15 pm Concert (no intermission)

9:30 pm Raffle draw for door prizes

9:45 pm Results of silent auction.

For details and reservations, visit High Note Live.

Body of Your Dreams Concert

The Body of Your Dreams Concert by American pianist Nathanael May takes place on Friday 1st July 2011 at the Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands. Organic wine will be served. Limited seating by reservation only through High Note Live.

Acryllic by Rob Judkins
"Rings" 24"x48" acrylic on board by Rob Judkins (2009)

Everyone wants to have the body of your dreams. It requires conscious regular exercise and attention to a balanced diet. Without concerted effort, the body of your dreams remains in your dreams.

Dutch composer  Jacob ter Veldhuis (affectionately known in the USA as Jacob TV) wrote a piano solo work in which the pianist needs to listen to a click track tape of his remixed American television advertisement of a slimming weight-loss belt. The so-named “Body of Your Dreams” for piano and boom box has made its way into the concert repertoire of a new generation of pianists, further made popular by the body-builder pianist Andrew Russo.

The tape, CD, and now video broadcasts: “It’s one of the ea­siest ways ever to get your bo­dy in the sha­pe you want it. It helps to to­ne and tigh­ten your up­per abs, lo­wer abs, arms and legs with no sweat at all!. It’s one of the simplest, smal­lest and most com­for­ta­ble to­ning de­vi­ces ever. You can use it whi­le wat­ching te­le­vi­si­on, do­ing the dis­hes, mo­wing the lawn.”

In short, Jacob TV’s “Body of Your Dreams” is a clever take on the American finesse in marketing and obsession with fitness.

When American pianist  Nathanael May told me he had included “Body of Your Dreams” in his programme for the house concert we are organising for him on Friday 1st July 2011, I just had to give the concert this name. I met Nathanael in 2003 when he invited me to give a sightreading workshop in North Cyprus. Since then, he has invited our duo to Italy where he founded an annual festival of contemporary music, first in Cortona and now in its third location in the alps. The Soundscape Contemporary Music Festival has now expanded to offer scholarships for composers and performers each year.

The concert will take place in the Monument House, in the multi-cultural neighbourhood of Lombok in Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, and also known as the creative capital and home of the oldest Dutch university.

Along with the theme of “Body of Your Dreams,” we have booked Eveline Scheren to provide tasting of organic wines she has carefully selected from Italy, Spain, France, and Chile. I met Eveline at a Rotary club meeting, before she started her own business of introducing organic wines to the Netherlands.

Each ticket will be entered into a raffle draw after the concert for prizes such as CDs, the limited edition of Monument House Glass Beer Mugs, and more. There will be also be a Silent Auction (to be linked to a blog yet to be posted) to raise funding for an artist-in-residence fellowship. Besides items from the Monument House, we are happy to receive donations for this cause.

** Breaking news: We are pleased to have Chef Alberto, who was born in a small village in Cordoba, to cater for a pre-concert dinner at 6 pm. He will be serving canapes, tapas, and a main course from the traditional Andalucian cuisine at 6 pm. This optional dinner before the concert can be reserved by indicating it in your email.

For more information and to reserve a seat, visit High Note Live, a web-based concert management and audience development website I am testing for use outside of the USA. Thus all $$ are actually in Euros for this concert.

This is the first of several concerts at the Monument House featuring music of American pianists and composers. The next one is on 2nd July 2011. [Watch this space.]

Friday 1st July 2011

6:00 pm: doors open – Traditional Andalucian dinner (optional) **

7:30 pm: doors open

organic wine tasting, view of silent auction items & bidding

 New! Panel discussions

New! Robert Bekkers, guitar, support act

8:15 pm concert starts (no intermission)

9:30 pm raffle draw (prizes include CDs, Monument House beer mug, and more)

9:45 pm silent auction results

The above painting by Rob Judkins, my classmate from Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, comes from his private collection. I will display more of his work in forthcoming posts of this Concertblog.

Parking until 9 pm is euro 2.29 per hour. But I expect most people will cycle or walk along the canal.

Speed to market: how fast to get a gig?

How long does it take to get a concert? If you find the right person, it could be immediate. If you persist and if you have the right contacts … you can also get a full house if you’re not careful!

Musicians who can sightread, improvise, or have memorised works they can readily perform don’t need a lead time to prepare for a concert performance.  Yet concert engagements don’t happen overnight. There is a certain lead time to book a concert and a lead time to get the audience.

I interviewed a classical music aficionado last Friday about his house concert series as material to add to my ongoing research on house concerts and salon concerts. Towards the end of our phone conversation, I mentioned that classical guitarist Robert Bekkers was going to be in town. Would he care to organise a concert in his home?

His first reaction was very positive. Yes! He would love to. When I told him the date, he withdrew and said he could not manage to organise his schedule and home to make it happen. He would prefer a month to 6 weeks notice.

Indeed, if you have to turn your home into a concert venue, you do need time to clear up and clean up. If you have a full-time job, you do need to make space to organise a concert event in your free time.

Undeterred, I googled to find other candidates.

That Friday 11th February 2011, I e-mailed a non-profit organisation that had put on such intimate classical music concerts for raising funds for the cause they’re championing.

Before I went to bed, I noticed I had received an e-mail reply.

The very next morning, I was woken up by a call from the lady in charge. We spoke for over 40 minutes about the possibilities of collaborating. I told her that I was the gateway to some of the best musicians on the planet.

On Sunday, I sent her links and material she could use to convince the new board members about doing a concert.

On Monday, she had her board meeting.

On Tuesday, she e-mailed me to ask if the Mr Bekkers was available the following Wednesday to give a concert. She would get her real estate advisory council to find a suitable location.

On Wednesday, I replied that indeed he was available and happy to give a concert.

In less than 12 hours, she and the chairman of her real estate advisory council had not only found a venue but also managed to get half the tickets sold.

How’s that for speed to market? If everything is in place, a gig can happen overnight.

Robert Bekkers gives a solo concert in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday 23rd February 2011 at 7 pm.

Salon concerts: another name for house concerts

What is in a name? Home concert, house concert, salon concert, huisconcert, … does it make any difference if it’s established or not? How much can you charge and still get people to attend a concert in your home?

First I used “home concerts” for live foreground music that gets performed and heard in one’s home. In Dutch, home is “huis” — pronounced like house in English. When I moved to the Netherlands, I used “huisconcerten” or “house concerts” instead of “home concerts” to promote concerts in the home.

In the USA, I noticed people using “salon concerts” — and decided to investigate this further.

When I google “salon concerts” I get what looks like an established concert series called Salon Concerts. There is a link to a nice article called “Chamber music finds its modern home.” Scrolling down, I see that the ticket price begins at $40.

How much to charge for house concerts? This is the question many hosts and performers have asked. If Salon Concerts can charge $40 and get a full house, why can’t anyone charge $40? Instead, I’ve heard reactions such as

I can’t charge my friends.

I can’t expect people to pay more than $10.

The economy is bad. People won’t come if we charge more than $10.

Let’s make it free and ask people to donate.

How much do we charge to make sure we get a full house? If we charge too much, we get empty seats.

If we change the name of house concerts to salon concerts, create a professional website, get media attention, can we then charge more than $10 per person? Maybe then, it becomes affordable to run a concert series from the home.

Download the 14-page paper presented at the International Cultural Economic conference in Copenhagen, 2011: “House concerts for art music: multiple stakeholders, audience development, and sustainability

Concert before a private viewing in Wailuku

A solo guitar concert before dinner, before a private viewing of a new commission in a one bedroom apartment in Wailuku on the island of Maui.

There is a grassroots movement of turning one’s home into an art gallery and concert hall. I sincerely believe it. Live music is not confined to grandiose concert halls for 2,000 people. Similarly art, especially contemporary art, that is works of living artists, is not destined for museums, waiting to be curated and valued.

Living composers and artists are creating new works every day.

There are not enough concert halls to hear their works or museums to view their works.

Hospitals, schools, hotels, and restaurants have unleashed their walls for art exhibitions. Similarly concerts are being staged in alternative locations. Venues can serve more than one purpose.

What about one’s home? A home is your castle. Home is where the heart is. It’s the last place of safety and tranquility. Why should you turn it into a concert hall or art gallery? Because you turn a concert and an art exhibition into a very special event —- one with a personal touch that is unique only to you, the host.

Last evening, we hosted a small intimate guitar solo concert in our one bedroom apartment in Maui. Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers gave a half-hour performance of four pieces he will play in Boston next month. We were privileged to sit so close to hear this private performance.

Robert Bekkers guitarist in private house concert in Wailuku
Robert Bekkers guitarist in private house concert in Wailuku. Photo: Tommy Nahulu

After dinner, Maui-based artist Frances Ku revealed her latest work — yet untitled piece in watercolour.  I had asked her to paint one for our piano guitar duo for years. We are always looking for new original artwork or photographs for our concert invitations, posters, publicity, and CDs.

“Wow!” was the unanimous and simultaneous reaction. She had neither signed or framed it yet — literally hot off the press, still drying.

Could we have invited more people to this private event? Yes and No.

We wanted to. But we did not have enough chairs, wine glasses, and plates.

Next time, we should just ask our guests to bring their own.

It goes to show that a concert and/or an art exhibition can take place whenever there is a will to make it happen. Even in one bedroom apartments — as we have experienced in Amsterdam and now, Maui!

Note: Robert took photos of this painting and immediately made a CD cover for the new CD Live at Duke 2010, pictured below.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo Live at Duke 2010 CD album
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo Live at Duke 2010 CD album