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Seung-Ah Oh - Intuition, guts, and a sensitive ear

09/12/2011

Unique form, mind of her own

Seung-Ah Oh

A sturdy piece featuring the long lines of a brilliantly deployed oboe with somersaulting glissandi and trills, captured in an ingenious web of rhythms and timbres, a piece ‘full of energy, based on a convincing concept’. Seung-Ah Oh, originally from Korea, won the Buma Toonzetters Prijs for this piece, JungGa, an award for the most exceptional Dutch composition of 2010. Nine years earlier, Oh had arrived in the Netherlands to continue her studies at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague under Louis Andriessen. Before the year was out her piece So-Ri II for violin, cello, and piano was played in the IJsbreker in Amsterdam. Subsequent years saw numerous performances at virtually all of the venues and festivals for contemporary music in the Netherlands, often featuring spanking new work. The Zephyr Quartet and Electra played her compositions as did Slagwerk Den Haag and De Volharding, Nieuw Ensemble, Hexnut, and Klang. In other words, Oh has every reason to refer to herself as a Dutch composer and that is what she feels herself to be. Meer...

Seung-Ah Oh’s sunny future

09/12/2011

Intuition, guts, and a sensitive ear

Seung-Ah Oh

"Strangely enough”, I said, “the way you describe it, the act of composing is preceded by an initial round of precomposing. All of the materials need to be ready and the structure has to be in place before the actual work begins. Which makes me wonder, what does real composing entail?” It is as if Zeitblom, fast friend of the composer Leverkühn in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, hits the Korean-born composer Seung-Ah Oh where it hurts. She regularly struggles with the interfering obstinacy of new ideas that threaten to put paid to balanced and methodical plans. Which factor will tip the scales? The gravity of a well thought-out plan or the lightness of spontaneous ideas? Zeitblom expressed his wonderment as Leverkühn explained how he composed according to a system that he had developed, the twelve-tone technique (Arnold Schoenberg was the inventor in the real world). Meer...

The temptations of the East

10/12/2010

Cheating with the ears

pipaThe smell of fire still clung to the air when on 22 April 1988, the day after the oldest concert hall in the Netherlands burned down, Utrecht saw another musical milestone. The musical East was welcomed for the music itself. The French dhrupad singer Yvan Trünzler, Dutch sarangi player Joep Bor and the American pakhavaj player John Boswell took their positions on the especially purchased rug at music venue RASA. Stylishly dressed in comfortable shirts and trousers manufactured from Indian cotton they sat cross-legged as they gave a concert of vocal dhrupad, a traditional form of Indian art music. While The Beatles enriched their pop music from the 1960s onwards with loose references to Indian music, this threesome had thoroughly studied the tradition. It wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, as became apparent that very same evening in another county seat.

Meer...

innovative jazz festivals

15/12/2007

Balancing on the edge between groove and experiment

Playing on the stage of a renowned foreign festival is good for the international career of any musician, and this holds true in the world of contemporary jazz as well. But how do you get there? The promoters of the Dutch Jazz Connection offer a helping hand, they bring Dutch jazz and improvising musicians to the attention of the artistic directors and programmers of progressive festivals all around the world. Most jazz festivals in Europe have joined the Europe Jazz Network (EJN). The representatives see each other at official meetings, but at least as often in an informal atmosphere, during festivals, for instance; colleagues from other continents are also regularly present there. Meer...

Moscow, St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia

15/12/2007

A hundred composers and their work

When, in the second half of the Nineteen Eighties, perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) heralded the collapse of the Soviet Union, a free exchange of information and ideas with the West slowly but surely started to flow again. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the last physical barrier between East and West had come down, and musicians, composers and musicologists from both worlds eagerly threw themselves into each other’s repertoire. In the havoc that fifty years of communist rule had wreaked, at least the conservatories and composers’ unions, ensembles and orchestras were still standing. Gaudeamus successfully strengthened the ties with the esteemed representatives of these institutions. Meer...

promoting Dutch music abroad

15/12/2007

A breach in the dike

A catchy name was still lacking for the program that Donemus (at the time still Muziekgroep Nederland) and Gaudeamus carried out in 1999-2004 with so-called HGIS-C funds: Intensifying the promotion of Dutch contemporary music abroad. During the 2005-2007 period the program, actually a compilation of countless, mostly small-scale projects, was continued under the name A Breach in the Dike, this time together with the Dutch Jazz Connection. Meer...

A breach in the Dyke - introduction

15/12/2007

Typically Dutch

The Dutch identity is impossible to trace in the field of music as well. Foreigners do perceive a typically Dutch sobriety, control and humor, and especially the existence of many different styles. This great variety exists thanks to the eagerness and skill with which composers and improvisers hereabouts handle all kinds of musical, theatrical and visual possibilities, wherever they come from. Meer...
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