Myrto: “Is there an ‘I’ left without a mask?”

Myrto Nizami (Greece, 1994) has been maker in residence at Festival Dag in de Branding since the end of 2023. Her music was heard for the first time last March, and in the June edition she presents new work for the first time during the festival. Myrto: ‘Can we exist without a mask, does that leave an ‘I’?’

First of all: how do you actually pronounce your first name?
“Haha, it’s Myrtó, with the stress on the last syllable. This is usually the case with Greek women’s names that end in -o.’

Can you introduce yourself, Myrto?
‘Certainly. I am from Greece, I am a composer and I have been living in The Hague since 2018. In 2020 I obtained my master’s degree in composition at the Royal Conservatory, where I studied with Calliope Tsoupaki and Guus Janssen. The first few months took adjusting – from warm Greece to windy The Hague. It still amazes me how quickly the weather changes here. But now I’m really enjoying it.’

What are you currently working on?
‘I am putting the finishing touches to the first new piece that I will present as maker in residence. It is the first part of a trilogy for voice and a trio of percussion, double bass and guitar. It becomes a ritual about individuality and the self. I base my work on Sonnet VIII by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, in which he presents all kinds of masks and asks whether we can exist without our masks. Is there an ‘I’ left without those masks? The premiere of the complete 40-minute work is planned for the end of my period at the festival.’

How do you like being a maker in residence?
‘As a composer you often only have one concert somewhere, and then move on to the next project. Now there are several concerts over a longer period. That’s a very nice idea, I don’t have to worry about things going wrong and I can keep working on my ideas. What is also interesting is that I am challenged to think about the planning and organization of my concerts, the number of rehearsals needed and such. As a composer you rarely come into contact with that production side, but it is valuable knowledge. And I love that I can collaborate intensively with other makers, like a director or light designer, from an early stage. Light and sound are very important to my work.’

Prima Materia: part I of Myrto performed by Ensemble Modelo62 and soprano Kristia Michael can be heard in Korzo on June 1 at 4:30 PM. Tickets and info

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