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.

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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


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.

Duo rehearsal with string quartet in Taipei

One definite highlight of our trip to Taiwan in April 2010 was meeting and playing with a Dutch/Taiwanese string quartet. I’m not sure they have a name yet, but they certainly have a purpose.

Their purpose is to get together on a regular basis to make music and have fun.

One definite highlight of our trip to Taiwan in April 2010 was meeting and playing with a Dutch/Taiwanese string quartet. I’m not sure they have a name yet, but they certainly have a purpose.

Their purpose is to get together on a regular basis to make music and have fun. When they are ready for a concert, they book a hall, publicise and promote the event, sell tickets, etc. What a joyful way to make music, no strings attached.

Rehearsal with string quartet in Taipei
Rehearsal with string quartet in Taipei

Our host, a Dutch violinist whose passions include scuba diving and writing, met us at the Taipei Artist Village after our Rotary Club luncheon in central Taipei. How we came to meet Josine is the subject of another blog, perhaps one that will get featured on LinkedIn as a success story. She became our gateway to everything musical and Dutch in Taiwan.

Around 4 pm, Josine warned us that we would not be able to leave the rehearsal until midnight. There was THAT much music to be played and THAT much fun to be shared.

The Dutch/English cellist welcomed us into her home. While she made tea and coffee, Josine, Robert and I dived into Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis’ TRIO, a piece we had performed with Korean violinist Naeon Kim at Utrecht Conservatory several years earlier.

When Robert took a break, we tried a piano trio with the cellist.

Hungry musicians need to eat. As soon as the viola player and the first violinist arrived, we all went to get dinner. Next door was a typical family-run Szechuan restaurant. It was not decorated by any means. But the food was heavenly. I should have asked for a copy of the bill to remember what was ordered. The viola player took care of it.

Szechuan dinner in Taipei
Szechuan dinner in Taipei

After dinner, I succumbed to watching “Finding Nemo” with the kids. There was no need for a piano in Boccherini’s Fandango or Tedesco’s Concerto. I will ask the rest of the musicians to LEAVE A REPLY below, for I fell asleep in the tatami room while they pressed on. It was Robert’s dream come true: to rehearse with a string quartet.

Brautigam premieres new piano concerto of Jacob TV

Jacob TV’s music is definitely tonal, if not ultra tonal. There are minimalistic elements and even neoromantic. But these characteristics are not what made the piano concerto no. 2 unique. Famous for his interpretation of the complete sonata cycles of Mozart and Beethoven on fortepiano and a sought-after soloist for many orchestras, Brautigam had the kind of stage presence to whom any composer would gladly dedicate a piano concerto. Jacob ter Veldhuis wrote his “Sky Falling” concerto while the financial crisis was unfolding around the world. Not quite one and a half years later, hope and optimism are what we need more than anything.

On 5th March 2010, we missed the pre-concert talk due to an unexpected hiccup but fortunately arrived in time for a special programme of Friday at the Vredenburg. As I write this, I’m delighted to discover that the entire concert can be heard online. After the Dutch news, you’ll hear a string quartet and an interview before the concert begins.

What drew us to brave the rain and queue in the cold outdoors for our tickets on this busy, dark wintry (not quite spring) night was the new piano concerto of Jacob ter Veldhuis. I first saw his “Body of Your Dreams” performed at a music festival in Italy. This virtuoso piece was very exciting to watch and has become popular with pianists as a contemporary choice in their final exam recitals.

The evening concert began with a large male acapella choir singing Ton de Leeuw’s Cloudy Forms. de Leeuw (1926 – 1996) is famous in the Netherlands for his definitive book on 20th century music, required reading at Dutch conservatories. After this, the choir continued to more tonal works of another Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock (1862 – 1921). By now, I was anxious to hear the sound of piano and orchestra.

When Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam walked on stage, it felt as though a maestro had arrived. His uncut, loose, and not quite straight or curly hair in vivid white was unmissable. Famous for his interpretation of the complete sonata cycles of Mozart and Beethoven on fortepiano and a sought-after soloist for many orchestras, Brautigam had the kind of stage presence to whom any composer would gladly dedicate a piano concerto. Despite this reassurance, I was still full of curiosity and anticipation.

Ronald Brautigam, photo credit: Marco Borggeve
Ronald Brautigam, photo credit: Marco Borggeve

Jacob ter Veldhuis, also known as Jacob TV for short and especially in the USA, called his second piano concerto “Sky Falling” or rather “The Sky isn’t Falling” as a response to the credit crunch around the time of its commission in autumn 2008.

[I’ve now reached that part of the radio programme where the stage is being refitted for a grand piano, conductor podium, and the Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra. I am overjoyed that I can listen online as I write this.]

The piano began with a crisp motif quickly joined by the winds. The piano was, at times, like water trickling on stones in a stream. It was constant throughout the 17 minute one movement piece, except for a moment that I’ll never forget. The orchestra stopped (somewhere around bar 45 or 48 as I learned later from viewing the score). It felt like a comma — a breathing point. But the piano did not stop there. It continued in an obvious solo. A few bars later, when you can barely recognise it, the four contrabasses enter and support the now recognisable piano solo. Then the two marimbas and timpani join in. It was beautiful. I would fast forward just to hear that section again. Rewind and hear it again.

Jacob TV’s music is definitely tonal, if not ultra tonal. There are minimalistic elements and even neoromantic. But these characteristics are not what made the piano concerto no. 2 unique. Somewhere in my mind, as I sat bewitched by the music, I uttered what I would eventually write “…a feeling of hope and optimism that we need today.” That’s how I felt when I heard it live and how I feel as I listen online now.

How does one write music that gives you hope? It’s not the same as music that makes you jolly and happy. It’s not the same as an elegy that makes you nostalgic or sentimental. You don’t linger or dwell on the past but look forward to the future.

Jacob ter Veldhuis wrote his “Sky Falling” concerto while the financial crisis was unfolding around the world.

Not quite one and a half years later, hope and optimism are what we need more than anything.

Jacob ter Veldhuis (Jacob TV), photo credit: Guido Benschop
Jacob ter Veldhuis (Jacob TV), photo credit: Guido Benschop

Background information

When I learned that Jacob ter Veldhuis had written a new piano concerto for another Dutch maestro, Ronald Brautigam, to be premiered in Utrecht, I just had to see it. I had seen Brautigam interpret Beethoven’s piano sonatas on fortepiano in the Vredenburg (the biggest concert hall in Utrecht) before it shut down for renovation. The red box (as we call it) of the temporary concert hall of Vredenburg has nearly become permanent as we local residents wait for the new Music Palace whose end is not yet in sight.

Jacob ter Veldhuis had coached me on my Elegy when he was composer-in-residence at Utrecht Conservatory (2007-2008). On the first day, he introduced himself, beginning with “I am a full time composer.” Somehow those words inspired me so greatly that I wanted to hear his works and eventually play them.

Trio for violin, guitar, and piano by Jacob ter Veldhuis

I found a score by the Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis in the public library. The score for “Trio” looked simple. The title specified a great deal of flexibility: for flute, alto recorder or oboe; zither or harpischord or piano; and guitar. There was no mention of violin. But why not?

Adding a third instrument to piano and guitar changes the entire dynamics. At our first trio rehearsal, I was amazed at the sound of the violin.

It was loud and flamboyant, which meant I could be equally loud and flamboyant. I could finally bring out the grandness of the mighty piano, no longer straitjacketed by the obligation to kowtow to the soft sounding guitar.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The guitar could be loud, too. But most of the time, it sounds best plucked gently, producing the sort of intimate music you want to fall in love with or fall asleep to.

The guitarist has always pronounced that the guitar possessed far more potential than the piano. It is capable of producing more colour, texture, and differentiating qualities of sound than the piano which consists basically of hammers that produce 88 pitches, unless you dare venture inside the piano to pluck its strings. The guitarist needs two hands to make a tone while I need only one finger to make a sound on the piano.

The difficulty of making a sound (according to this guitarist and his friends) makes the guitar more superior, in other words. Perhaps that explains why there are many more virtuosic pianists than virtuosic guitarists….. but performance virtuosity does not necessarily mean that it’s easier to master the piano.

The violin also requires two hands to make a sound. In fact, it requires a bow most of the time. I had tried teaching myself the violin so that I could compose for it. I gave up after 5 minutes because my body ached from the awkward positions of holding the bow in one hand and the violin on the other, not to mention the contortion of holding it in place between my chin and shoulder.

Early in my conservatory education, I asked a fellow classmate to give me violin lessons. At the first lesson, she spent over an hour showing me how to hold the bow with my right hand. Two weeks later, she spent another hour showing me how to hold the violin. I complained that I just wanted to make a sound so that I could read the notes and produce some music. To my disappointment, she said that I was lucky to already learn how to hold the violin and bow in just two lessons. She spent the first year learning just that!

Thus it was most magical to hear the violin being played less than a meter from where I sat at the piano. For such a small instrument, it was capable of producing all kinds of sounds and effects: the familiar bowed sound, the plucked sound of pizzicato, the staccato sound of the bow bouncing on the strings like tiny stones skipping on a lake, bowing on the neck, bowing near the bridge, muted sound, and far more effects in virtuosic contemporary pieces.

Paul Richard’s “Falling on Lobsters in the Dark” gave me the opportunity to hear such effects, especially the different ways that the combination of violin, guitar, and piano could portray different types of fear. We played this piece in two violin recitals, the open day for prospective new students, and the first Chamber Music Marathon concert at Utrecht Conservatory.

For our second Chamber Music Marathon concert, I found a score by the Dutch composer Jacob ter Veldhuis in the public library. “Trio (opus 48a)” was a 1990 commission, first premiered in 1992 by flute, zither, and guitar in Deventer, a city which became popular for the film industry for locations in Arnhem whose centre was destroyed during the Second World War. As Jacob ter Veldhuis as the composer-in-residence for my final year at conservatory had supervised my “Elegy for Ensemble” piece, I decided that it was worth trying this piece.

The score for “Trio” looked simple enough to sightread. The title specified a great deal of flexibility: for flute, alto recorder or oboe; zither or harpischord or piano; and guitar. There was no mention of violin. But why not? By now, I had become accustomed to substituting single-voiced treble instruments for each other. It was easy to do on the music notation computer programme I used to compose my ensemble pieces. As the range of the violin is larger than the flute, it shouldn’t be a problem to manage a reduced subset of the pitch range.

Below are video recordings of our interpretation of Jacob ter Veldhuis’ Trio (opus 48a), performed after our premiere of “Rendering 7.”

Trio I. Allegro

Trio II. Andante

Trio III. Allegro