Sun. 2 June
Orgelpark Amsterdam
Gerard Brandtstraat 26 Amsterdam
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On a very rare occasion this Sunday, Festival Dag in de Branding extends beyond the city limits of The Hague. At Orgelpark, Amsterdam, we present music by the winners of the Willem Pijper Award 2023, Cecilia Arditto Delsoglio and Trevor Grahl. Existing works, but they both also wrote a new piece for the occasion, for which they were commissioned to compose by Festival Dag in de Branding and Orgelpark.

A few years ago, Trevor Grahl came upon a taped recording from circa 1980 with Polish liturgical music sung by the choir of St. Hedwig’s, the catholic church in his mother’s native region in Ontario, Canada. The basic harmonies, constantly repeating melodies and husky sound of the small organ immediately awakened in Trevor his earliest musical memories. This inspired him to compose a dialogue between the music of his youth and his current musical self. In Śpiewnik we hear voices from the old recordings combined with new music and electronically manipulated samples. With this piece, Grahl returns to one of his musical roots, to experience that world, that music, that over-familiar bath of sound, completely as new.

The reason for the move to Orgelpark is Trevor Grahl’s prize-winning composition. His Music for Malmö was written for a specific type of midi-controlled organ, of which only a few can be found worldwide. Indeed, even at Orgelpark the work cannot be performed without major midi reprogramming. Instead, Grahl plays Of Ancient Days, an older work he wrote especially for Orgelpark, which formed the basis for Music for Malmö. Grahl calls the pieces ‘twins’: ‘The heart of Of Ancient Days is the same as that of Music for Malmö,’ he says.

Trevor Grahl

Cecilia Arditto also had work commissioned by Orgelpark. La arquitectura del aire/The architecture of air (2009) is a composition for organ and two percussionists – but don’t expect an overwhelming mass of sound. La arquitectura del aire is about ‘the space between things’, says Arditto: the three musicians are arranged in different places in the hall, forming a triangle. Within it, they communicate ‘through air and wires’: an old melodica, radio noise, a tin telephone. Thus, in the composer’s words, they create the piece ‘with almost nothing’ and create an acoustic and visual ‘cathedral of air’.

The new work for organist and props, which Arditto composed for this concert, uses space in a different way. The organist is located among various objects on the ground floor and moves around the space. In the previous piece, the objects defined the space; in the new piece, it is exactly the other way round.

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