Sat 6 June 2020

Especially for our festival, Kluster5 will enter the empty Electriciteitsfabriek. The Hague-based ensemble consisting of five former students of the Royal Conservatoire, plays a programme of works written especially for them. Celia Swart expresses The Hague as we knew it until recently: the architectural rhythm of the skyline and the daily traffic flows through the street. Kluster5 also plays the subtle Shambling Emerge by Aart Strootman, which was awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize in 2019.

Composer and saxophonist Celia Swart (1994) presents a musical impression of The Hague as it was before the crisis. In the modestly subdued piece Boven Hoge Gebouwen (nominated for the Tera de Marez Oyens Award in 2018) she focusses on the vast skies above the city’s skyline. A couple of airily high notes carry us up into the poetic distance, where the sounds of the city die away and we enter a boundless dimension. With just a few bass notes halfway the piece, we are in the grip of gravity again, but soon enough our eyes are drawn back up.

In Hoge Uren Swart mimics busy traffic as it speeds through the city’s streets. Playfully, the notes chase each other until they melt into a single rushing line. Here again, Swart’s composition zooms out, like a camera that backs away from the action and from a distance reflects on the spectacle of repetitive figures.

Also on the programme is the subtle Shambling Emerge – after after party by Aart Strootman (1987), for which in 2019 the composer received the Matthijs Vermeulenprijs. The inspiration for Shambling is a video of jazz pianist Misha Mengelberg, recorded live at the Bimhuiscafé in 2014. We see the master of improvisation behind the piano in this crowded bar, conjuring up a simple melody. Out of the blue, four-year-old Emily Glerum joins him at the piano and adds a few notes of her own. Mengelberg listens, then responds to his surprise musical partner.

This moving interaction inspired Aart Strootman to write Shambling Emerge – after after party. Just under nine minutes long, the piece begins with an almost microscopic exploration of the instruments: violin, guitar, piano, baritone saxophone and percussion. Each of the musicians plays a specific role in the soundscape. The jury report said of this piece: ‘The music sounds at the same time composed and as if it was imagined du moment. This is reflected in the freshness and inventiveness with which the members of the ensemble create their musical spiderweb.’

To conclude the concert, Kluster5 plays 23:09 by the Italian composer Sebastiano Evangelista (1989). He took the title from the exact time of day at which he finished his composition, as he divulged to the audience at the premiere on 3 April 2017.

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