Morris Kliphuis: “We are going to build a soft, hypnotic dream world.”

In Wake The Dead, horn player Morris Kliphuis and pianist Joanna Duda bring old and new music, improvisation and electronics together. They do this together with the Baroque ensemble of the Royal Conservatoire. Wake The Dead will premiere on 14 October at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam and can be heard at Festival Dag in de Branding on 15 October. We spoke to Morris about this new project, his fascination with Baroque music and the collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire.

Where does your fascination for Baroque music come from?
We are actually mainly interested in the instruments themselves: the sound culture, say the surface of Baroque music. The instruments in early music have a more intimate sound, lighter, richer in overtones. A baroque violin is also just a lot softer than a modern violin. You hear less tension in the sound, it sounds more open, perhaps more vulnerable.
Joanna and I came to the conclusion that those Baroque instruments are actually much more suitable for our music than modern instruments. We found out that we both had a dream to work with a baroque ensemble one day, and how perfect it would be to be able to make a version of Wake The Dead with traversos, baroque violins, Viola da Gamba, Violone, and let all those instruments dance, with fragments of melody, thin sounds, warm buzzing chords.
For me that is a very interesting area, how historical and “modern” ways of making music can enrich each other. There is an enormous wealth of possibilities that just begs to be explored.

How did Wake The Dead originate?
Joanna and I met at a residency in Poland in 2020. I find her a fascinating musician. She plays piano and electronics, and knows how to interweave those two worlds in a playful, totally virtuoso way. She is one of the most free thinkers and improvisers I know. She has liberated herself from the traditional jazz idiom and makes her own unique and personal music.
When we improvised together, bizarre sound worlds arose: samples from typewriters, a bit of Morton Feldman, a few soft notes on the horn, bells, noise, fragments of melody, everything added up to a kind of hypnotic, kaleidoscopic music. Vulnerable, fragile, rich in contrasts. As if we are digging for the expressiveness of pure sound.
Because I live in Berlin and Joanna is on the road a lot, we have organized a few residencies. We improvised for a week in a Soviet-era cultural center in Katowice, Poland. Then a week in my studio in Berlin, and a week in The Hague, in Korzo. Our musical language has slowly crystallized, and compositions arose that we will play in Festival Dag in de Branding.

In this piece you work together with the Baroque Ensemble of the Royal Conservatoire. Can you tell us more about this collaboration?
It’s very exciting, we are currently busy discussing the tuning of their instruments with the students, what we should think about, and making parts. It strikes me how open and curious they are, while this project is something completely different from what they are used to in daily practice. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to the rehearsals.

What can the public expect on October 15 in Korzo?
We are going to build a soft, hypnotic dream world, in which past and present, baroque and modern, acoustic and electronic sounds merge together, into something you have hopefully never heard before.

Wake The Dead by Morris Kliphuis and Joanna Duda will be performed in Korzo together with the Baroque Ensemble Royal Conservatoire on 15 October at 9:00 PM. Buy tickets here.


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