There are some things in life you experience that are near impossible to fully describe. Such as it was last weekend at the Monument house in Utrecht. On July 1st and 2nd, a fantastic ensemble of talent gathered here to perform, share, and cook for the lucky few who held a ticket. As a volunteer, I got front row seat to watch the magic unfold for both nights.
July 1st was the first concert night. As guests arrived, I would swipe up their coats and direct them to the main room where Anne Ku, hostess and organizer, would promptly give them their raffle ticket. The ticket would serve as a voucher to be given to Eveline Scheren of Biowijngroup for a glass of organic wine that was included in the cost of dinner. Before you made it over to Eveline, Anne would explain that there was a silent auction for a number of items ranging in value from 10 Euros on up to 200. The silent auction would help support a small scholarship for Robert Bekkers, a classical guitarist, our host, and Anne’s husband, who would later this summer be leaving for Boston Massachusetts to continue his education at the New England Conservatory.
In the kitchen, Chef Alberto, was busy preparing our wonderful and delicious Andalusia dinner. Once the food was ready, we all congregated in the garden since the weather was agreeable for us that night. Promptly after the dishes were collected, everyone was brought back into the music room. We enjoyed a small panel segment over the creative ways that classically trained musicians are collaborating. The guest speaker Carla Regina of the foundation “Voice, Actually” was describing how she puts this into practice. As an opera singer she works with actors and other musicians in performance art. Shortly after this group discussion we were introduced to Nathanael May. One of two pianists in town this weekend to give a performance.
Nathanael May , an American pianist, Artistic director, professor, and co-founder of the music festival Sound Scapes Festival in Italy, performed a list of songs from a great many composers. Before commencing, he shared with us some stories on the meaning behind each of the songs or what the composer’s muses were for particular compositions. One memorable story was over the composer, George Antheil, from the beginning of the last century. He was known for the way he would play aggressively, using the piano as sort of drumming kit. This composer/pianist would place a gun on the piano just before he played to show that he was the self-proclaimed, “Bad guy of music”. Another story Nathanael shared with us was of composer Toru Takemitsu who was inspired by a rain tree and how they would drop water slowly, sometimes 2 days later, from their leaves. At other points, Nathanael would warn us that one particular song may induce one to sleep because of its very meditative quality. As I looked around the room I could hear and see the effect taking place almost immediately.
Finally at the end of the evening Nathanael performed the most anticipated song of the night; “The Body of your Dreams” by Jacob ter Veldhuis(also know as Jacob TV). He is a Dutch composer who currently is in the midst of his own festival in Zwolle. Unfortunately for us, this was the reason why he was unable attend the Monument house concert as Anne did send an email inviting him. This composition was truly amazing. Even though, I will provide a snippet of it here via YouTube, you can’t imagine seeing and hearing it first hand. The whole time I was in awe of Nathanael’s accurate timing with his un-relentless and unforgiving companion the voice recording which is an important part of this music. The composition is actually an infomercial out of the United States about the belly slimming belt that one wears as they sit and watch TV. Mr. ter Veldhuis is building quite a reputation in American audiences for compositions such as these. I can certainly understand why.