Pete Harden: “It’s about the audience experience for us”

Ensemble Klang is programmed twice this edition during Festival Dag in de Branding. Both pieces are sensory-stimulating. We spoke to Pete Harden of Ensemble Klang and asked him about the collaboration with artist-in-residence Thomas van Dun and the music theater piece Follow by Igor C. Silva, which they will perform the following day.

You are opening Festival Dag in de Branding on May 20th with the piece Light Mass by Thomas van Dun. In this piece, the audience lies on beds to see the visuals by Frouke ten Velden which are projected on the ceiling. How is that for you?
The audience get to recline on the floor, enjoying projections specially created for the ceiling of the Kloosterkerk. We’re set up in a circle around the outside, creating a wonderful sonic embrace that encapsulates the listeners. Playing so far spread out, with the six players of Ensemble Klang and also with Geerten van de Wetering at the organ, presents some practical issues. But it’s a challenge we’re not unfamiliar with, works like Peter Adriaansz’s Environments seat us similarly far apart. We’re looking forward to getting into the church in the week of the premiere to build the piece, with amplification, electronics and all the projections. Much of Ensemble Klang’s output is in works that occupy these multidisciplinary areas, and also that deal with the experience of the audience (similarly in Follow by Igor C. Silva) so we’re excited to bring that understanding to this particular production.

Thomas van Dun is one of the artists-in-residence at Dag in de Branding. What was it like working with him?
I met Thomas for the first time on a site-visit to the Kloosterkerk itself. He’s a wonderfully conscientious composer, looking to explore new developments in his musical practice. Through a period of workshops with the ensemble we’ve been struck by his professionalism and enjoyed a really fruitful artistic exchange, one in which the group is open to his articulate musical ideas and in turn he has been open to the ensemble’s response. Those workshops have also included Micha de Kanter who’s developing the electronic sound-design and amplification for the work. This is something that has given shape to the resultant piece in a really organic way, making the ensemble feel a true part of the work.

In addition to the opener, you will also play the closing event of Festival Dag in de Branding on May 21st! The piece Follow by composer Igor C. Silva about fake news premiered in 2021. Do you have a different feeling about this piece now that fake news is such a prominent part of the war in Ukraine?
The work deals with the slippery nature of truth in our online-inflected and inflicted world. But it’s a universal experience, not specific to time and place, rather an internal experience for everyone. The work features Stephanie Pan as the soloist, in which she plays a journalist. It really asks us as an audience about our complicity in online discourse, how much do we want it to be truthful? How much do we want to read what we want to read? And how much do we want to be simply entertained?

How did Follow come about, can you say something about the making process?
Follow is a project that was long in gestation, with multiple producers brought in along the way. Gaudeamus had asked Igor C. Silva to create something, and Ensemble Klang was brought in as the musicians. We recommended Stephanie Pan (soloist), who recommended Aaron Landsman (writer). Miso Music in Portugal came on board as a producer, and then Korzo also supported us with the tech build. With each new addition the project took a slightly new direction and shape. Postponed by some years – for all the expected reasons – it gave the work a chance to really mature through the process of creation, eventually reaching its finished form last year. It has become a technically spectacular show, with tightly synchronized electronics, live music, lights, strobes, and multiple video projections.

Ensemble Klang performs the piece Light Mass by Thomas van Dun on May 20 at 9pm (sold out) and 10:30pm at the Kloosterkerk and on May 21 at 8;15pm the piece Follow by Igor C. Silva at Paard. Buy tickets.

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