Doriene Marselje has a need to contribute to the future of music

The landscape in which harpist Doriene Marselje positions herself consists of a sea of lights which dance and react to the sounds she elicits from her instrument. Marselje had this interactive light installation developed by designers who graduated from the Delft University of Technology. She created a poetic setting for her solo recital, which is best enjoyed in the dark. Marselje links the compositions she selected for this programme by composers Lo Shi-Wei, Isang Yun, Piet-Jan van Rossum, John Cage en Toru Takemitsu to her own electronic sketches. For Festival Dag in de Branding we asked Doriene about the interactive light installation and her choice of compositions.

You have developed your own production with In a Landscape. Can you tell me why you felt the need to create your own performance?
The need to develop something myself arose from experience. I have done a lot of different interdisciplinary productions as a performer and as a maker with all kinds of instrumentations in chamber music, music theater, orchestras and as a soloist, always with great pleasure. What started to strike me is that my ‘own’ scene is not the most innovative and I noticed a strong urge not to wait but to make something myself: I feel a strong need to contribute to the future of music and the development of the harp as a solo instrument and also to the perception of the audience.

It is not just a concert, but a whole experience with an interactive light installation. How did that collaboration with the designers come about?
Because I wanted to make something musical that didn’t necessarily come from my own instrument, but possibly as an extension of that, I soon arrived at something visual. But what exactly had to be determined, I certainly did not want a screen and no concrete images. My brother Wouter is an industrial designer, graduated from the TU Delft and together with his partner Wilco van Iperen we agreed to investigate what the possible implementations could be to turn my artistic ideas and vision into a visual concept. The special thing, I found, about this process is that we worked so differently within our disciplines: as musicians we are (I dare to generalize here), still working in our heads and on our own until we are convinced that something has reached (at least almost) perfection before it can be shared with the outside world. Instead, they immediately start sketching, developing multiple ideas and then flipping through them to see what can be done. So we quickly arrived at the modular installation that it has become. Everything was conceived, developed and made by Wouter and Wilco, 3Dprinted software written by them etc.

It sounds like the light installation is a second artist on stage, was this your intention?
Funny you say that, the remark about the second artist. One of my favorite things is chamber music, for me it mainly has to do with the energy you share on stage and that you create something together that you can invite the audience to take part in. I wasn’t aware that I would experience this piece as chamber music until I had the premiere during the Dutch Harp Festival in TivoliVredenburg: while I was performing, I noticed it felt like I wasn’t performing the piece on my own. It’s true, because the installation is a visual representation of how I experience the music at the moment – that can always change. It is not there to impose something on the public, but to invite them along in my experience, while at the same time there is enough room to have your own unique experience.

You play works by different composers; can you tell us something about the compositions and why you chose them?
The compositions that I have chosen for this program have all demanded something new from the instrument, all works give me the opportunity to play the harp in a unique way, in which the diversity of the instrument comes out well. Whether it is an electro-acoustic work (Shi-Wei), full of extended techniques (Takemitsu) or very consonant and melodic (Yun & Cage). Those extremes are something I really enjoy looking for and also inspired me to have Valerio Sannicandro write a new unique work for harp, which is currently still in the making. That will be something completely new, now and then I get a piece sent. I can’t wait until it’s there and I can premiere the work. It will also be part of in a landscape – if you want to stay informed, you can sign up for updates via my website!

In a Landscape by harpist Doriene Marselje will be performed on November 13th at 7pm at The Grey Space. Dag in de Branding hosts a dinner. You can make a reservation by purchasing a dinner ticket. You can buy a single ticket, passe-partout or dinner ticket here.

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