Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On the shoulders of giants...


What Hath God Wrought

I took a small break from the world for the past three weeks to coach five wonderfully talented members of the opera studio of the New National Theater Tokyo. It was great fun but long days and didn't allow for much else. 

In other news, yesterday I made it official and unleashed the website for De Wonderkamer, my new venture and muziektheater enterprise. We are already holding auditions for our first project, Love Songs, of Claude Vivier.

And of course yesterday marked the passing of the beautiful Patrice Chereau. His was a genius of legend and his work is one we all grow with and experience over a lifetime, that's how we know it is great. It speaks to is across our ages. "I was lucky to have lived when you lived"....

Sunday, September 1, 2013

That's what Sundays are for...

It's a day I'm forcing myself to take it slow. The coming weeks will be full meetings for upcoming projects and proposals for new projects, so today is for coffee, an old film, and perhaps some nice music listening. Yesterday was the uitmarkt, Amsterdams annual chance for all the arts organisations to show off their coming seasons. Opera Studio Nederland has been involved for several years now and it was weird not to take part.

There was an interesting piece in this mornings New York Times about string players not from the early music movement picking up baroque strings and bows, and tuning down their instruments. What des this mean? Is it the death of a movement? Perhaps, perhaps the victim of its own commercial success. There does seem to be a new generation of folks playing HIP, with only a sound in their ear and now knowledge or curiosity of the context, historical or other, from which that sound comes. On the other hand, chasing a sound for its own sake can be a beautiful journey in and of itself. The early music movement was rejecting tradition, but replaced it with the red herring of authenticity and the ideological weight of correctness. Perhaps that is now being replaced by beauty for the sake of beauty...better than tradition or authenticity. Has this early music movement been at heart an experiment to arrive at new aesthetic approaches that can now be freed from justification through historical authenticity? Has Taruskin been right all along?

We can only hope so...

From Amsterdam on a slow Sunday morning.

Friday, August 30, 2013

de wonderkamer

After a very long hiatus (almost two years exactly!), I'm recommitting to this blog. In an ironic way I'm reminded of Musetta's line that Marcello is the refrain to which she always returns. Such it is with me and this blog, which has seen many names and shapes and iterations, not to mention a lot of silence, but to which I inevitably return. Mostly I've been incredibly busy the last two years with Opera Studio Nederland. There were a lot of things I didn't have time for, and I'm happy to now have a bit of silence. I return to the blog, but with an added sense of calm, of grounded clarity.

I've read that many bloggers consider, or even call, their blog a cabinet of curiosity, or a kunstkabinett, or a wunderkammer. These words refer to the Renaissance tradition of keeping a room or space full of all the things which make up ones life. To quote the ol'wikipedia: "a collection of objects whose boundaries are yet to be defined....a Theater of the World....a Memory Theater". I've never quite understood what one writes on a blog, and maybe that's why I've always failed to keep it up. I like this idea of a space to just keep ones thoughts, memories, ideas. And I like that the boundaries need not be defined.

In the past several years I've increasingly struggled with the boundaries we and the world around us place upon ourselves. 
This for me is most acute in my professional life where I work most frequently as a stage director, but do my most rewarding and centred work when also working as a conductor. Then, also in the recent months I've done more composition and returned to acting like a creative artist. We must give ourselves permission for these adventures, not limit ourselves, but follow any and all paths which speak to us. There are few Renaissance men anymore. We do not encourage that sort of unbridled self-truth. We should though; and it begins with each of us following our own potential as we ourselves define it. A wonder-room, is a beautiful umbrella to catch everything that we do. Originally a microcosm of the world, now a macrocosm of the self; still a Memory Theater, but also a Theater of the I.

Among other new adventures, I'm writing this on my mobile phone. In sure that makes for more spelling mistakes, but hopefully makes me more compelled to blog in the moment.