THE SYMPHONY THAT’S BEGINNING TO END

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concert photos: Maarten de Kok
gallery photos: David Finn

This work was inspired by the destruction was caused by budget cuts that have recently been made in arts sectors throughout the world, but particularly in the Netherlands.  Art (in government) has become too much of a financial discussion and artists are taking this discussion too seriously.  The only thing that can truly stop the production of art is if artists refuse to work.  Art has to be efficient, and you have to know what you need first and be creative with what you have second.  That being said, an artist who has something to say will never shut up.

 

The 10 000 composers were chosen from a database that I compiled of approximately 150 000 names.  The selection is based on their numerical position in the catalogue (some numbers get through, others are blindly discarded).  I use this method as I am interested in how music has chronologically developed, I am not interested in how this timeline sounds when I put all my favorite songs back to back and find people who will perform my favorite music with me.  I am constantly adding to the piece, as new music is being made every day, and I have been working on the piece since 2010.

 

Music is not dying, it’s just almost dying.

 

Analogous to a near-death experience, in which your life is said to flash before your eyes, the symphony reflects a near-death experience of music.  It is played by 9 musicians and many, many instruments.  Aside from traditional instruments such as guitar, violin and xylophone, I also perform on instruments and organs that I have built myself (several bass kazoos, a relay organ) and I have prepared a piano by coating the strings with different metals and inducing corrosion with acids and bases.  This combination of instruments mixes well-known sounds with deteriorating and even unrecognizable sounds which physically disturb and make you feel like you might be listening to something being killed, or being born.  This ironically keeps you in your chair.

The work will be performed non-stop from 8 in the morning until midnight.  This will happen at various locations (a church, parks, public squares, shopping centers), sometimes overlapping each other.  There are nine principle musicians, myself included, who form various ensembles and bands who perform at set times. This is crucial so that no musician has to perform for more than 3 hours at one time and has plenty of time to eat and rest before performing a second time.  I work with my own musicians and take the responsibility for finding musicians who are capable and will work within the available budget.

Each musician selects work that they are capable of playing or interested in interpreting.  The music is manipulated by their own way of thinking and playing and how much information they have in a single fragment. These diverse methods of interpretation in different combinations creates a very dynamic workflow which is intense to play and experience.  You hear every type of music escalating and declining in loudness and intensity as musicians come in and go out.  Everybody is playing their own set which sometimes has the feeling of a mash-up and sometimes flows as though the pieces were written for each other.

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