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)

Final exam concerts at Utrecht Conservatory

The most important concert in a music student’s years at a conservatory is the final exam recital. Aside from passing all required subjects, the final year student must also pass the final exam concert, which is free and typically one hour long without intermission. Three musicians who performed at the Glass Vase Concert will give their final exam concerts this week.

The most important concert in a music student’s years at a conservatory is the final exam recital. Aside from passing all required subjects, the final year student must also pass the final exam concert, which is free and typically one hour long without intermission.

For performance students, the final concert consists of a balance of solo and non-solo repertoire spanning various styles, e.g. from Baroque to contemporary periods. For composition majors, this consists of performance of original works. A jury decides on the final grade.

In the Netherlands, a PASS mark is a 6. A perfect mark is a 10.

Two years ago I organised 40 musicians to perform my compositions at Utrecht Conservatory. It was a huge project that nearly sucked the life out of me. What I learned from it was the need to get the experience of producing concerts much earlier on. Since then, I’ve been encouraging my younger classmates to get this experience so it would not be a shock when the time comes.

Utrecht Conservatory is the oldest of eleven conservatories in the Netherlands. It’s located in two old buildings a few minutes’ walk from the central station (Utrecht Centraal) in the famous Museum District. The classical music concerts are usually held in the yellow building called K&W which stands for Kunst en Wetenschappen (Art and Knowledge). The concert hall inside is built to modern acoustical standards (perfect reverb ratio for classical music). The other building (brown) contains a chapel where many early music concerts are given. The brown building is a former men’s hospital.

A few weeks ago, 23rd May 2010 to be precise, we held a Glass Vase Concert (4 concerts + dinner + jam session) to help some of the younger musicians prepare for their final exam concerts. These “tryouts” were meant to allow them to play in front of an attentive (and appreciative) audience.

Because of the timing of various competing activities, I was not able to blog about the importance of these tryouts for final exam concerts. Two of the musicians have already passed their exams. The remaining will give their concerts very soon. Let me introduce them here.

Maria Pozdnyakova, harpist at Glass Vase Concert. Photo: Serge van Empelen
Maria Pozdnyakova, harpist Photo: Serge van Empelen

Thursday 17 June 2010 at 18:00 in the concert hall of the K&W Building

Maria Pozdynakova, Russian harpist, will give a concert for her Master of Music final exam. Some of the pieces include

J.L.Dussek: Sonata Es major
T.Hosokawa: Gesine
M.Flothuis: Pour le tombeau de Orphee
H.Renie: Legende

She gave the first outdoor concert in the Monument House Concert Series, her concert harp having acclimatised to the Garden House overnight. Her choice of repertoire was very daring but this being a house concert, the audience loved it.

Earlier in December 2009, she gave a solo concert of works of Russian composers. Hailing from Moscow, she gave the audience a feeling for music at a Russian tea house. See video, photos, and guestbook comments at “Sold out, full-house, standing room only.”

Maria played the harp in two of my compositions in my final exam in 2008: Culture Shock! and Elegie for Ensemble.

The month of June is busy with final exams and auditions. On Friday 18th June, several pianists will be giving their Bachelor of Music final exam concerts. Two of these pianists played in the Glass Vase Concert.

Leonie de Klerk, pianist
Leonie de Klerk, pianist

Leonie de Klerk will give her exam at 10:30 am. Her programme is as follows:

JS Bach (1685-1750) Toccata in e, BWV 914

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Sonate in D, KV 576

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegretto

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) Suggestion Diabolique, opus 4 nr. 4 ‘Prestissimo fantastico’

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) Ballade nr. 4 in f, opus 52 ‘Andante con moto

Alexander Skrjabin (1872-1915) Etude in cis, opus 42 nr. 5 ‘Affannato’

Thijn Vermeulen, pianist. Photo: Serge van Empelen
Thijn Vermeulen, pianist. Photo: Serge van Empelen

On Friday 18th June at 14:00, Thijn Vermeulen will give his final exam concert. His programme includes

Triana by Albéniz,

Haydn’s c-minor sonata Hob.16/20 ,

Les Soireés de Nazelles by Francis Poulenc and

works by J.S. Bach and Ligeti.

Also Trio ART (Anna Sophie Torn, violin; Remco Woutersen, cello; Thijn Vermeulen, piano) will perform Rachmaninoff’s first Trio Elégiaque in g-minor.

Once upon a time, about 5 to 6 years ago, I would go to all final exams, which are typically organised by instrument and major subject. You can expect Friday 18th June to be piano day, for the jetsetting piano teachers (all master performers in their own right) to convene for their students’ most important moment. However, this Friday I won’t be attending any concert. I will only be able to go to Maria’s concert on Thursday the 17th.

Good luck, Leonie and Thijn!

Sold out! Full house! Standing room only!

I love the idea of sold-out, full-house, standing-room only concerts.

Yesterday, as producer of a house concert held in someone else’s house, I had to sit on the spiral staircase because all 30 seats were taken. Even the gracious host, who had generously provided the space, had to sit a few steps below me.

I opened the house concert by referring to the previous evening’s packed concert premiering a new version of Mozart’s Requiem in Amsterdam.

I love the idea of sold-out, full-house, standing-room only concerts.

Yesterday, as producer of the Russian harp house concert held in a beautiful turn-of-the century “heren” house, I had to sit on the spiral staircase because all 30 seats were taken. Even the gracious host, who had generously provided the space, had to sit a few steps below me.

I opened the house concert by referring to a concert I had attended the previous evening, in which a new version of Mozart’s Requiem was performed.

“Everyone knows Mozart’s Requiem. Everyone knows Mozart,” I began. “We don’t know what Maria is going to play, yet you all came.”

“We all know the Amsterdam Conservatory. They have a student orchestra and choir. How many of you know Maria? How many of you know how to pronounce her last name?

“For most of you, it’s your first time coming to Merrenna’s house. But we know that the Amsterdam Conservatory is in Amsterdam.”

“Yesterday evening’s concert was so full that some people had to stand outside the building. It was a free concert.”

“Tonight’s concert isn’t free. The harpist is not famous. Neither is this venue. But you’re all here.”

What’s the catch? How did we (Maria, Merrenna, and I) manage to get so many people to come to this concert?

We had less than two weeks to let people know about this concert, in a period that was extremely busy for everyone. None of our musician friends could attend because they were either performing in their own concerts or attending other concerts.

For those of you who missed this concert, please thank one passionate member of the audience who secretly recorded these two clips. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaLa

What caused our audience to come to this concert, instead of doing something else on Sunday 13th December 2009? What else would they have done if not this concert?