Eva Beunk (Composition) writes opera for Fort Pannerden

The academic year is starting in remarkable fashion for third-year Composition student Eva Beunk. Her first opera, Op Wacht, will have its première in Fort Pannerden in the village of Doornenburg in the weekend of 21 and 22 September. The work will be performed by 33 horn players and three singers against the backrop of the disused fort.

Studying at the Royal Conservatoire
Twenty-year-old Eva is entering the third year of the Composition programme. Eva began her musical career with the local wind band, in which she learned to play the trumpet. At the age of eleven, she wrote her first composition, De Populier, for her sister (clarinet), her father (bass tuba) and herself on trumpet. Eva continued to compose. After a preparatory year at the ArtEZ Academy of Music, she decided that it was Composition she wanted to study, with trumpet as a minor. In the Composition programme at the Royal Conservatoire, anything is possible as long as you continue to develop, says Eva. She has now written about 25 pieces. Eva talks about studying at the Royal Conservatoire in this video.

Composition for 33 horn players, three singers and a fort
‘When they hear what I’m doing, people either say I’m crazy or are wildly enthusiastic!’ Eva is referring to the opera she was asked to write for a production in Fort Pannerden during the 3 Oever Festival. She immediately accepted the invitation, jumping at the opportunity to take on her biggest project yet. Op Wacht is not written to be performed in a traditional concert hall, but in the small rooms in the fort. The space couldn’t possibly hold the 33 horn players and three singers, as well as an audience of a hundred. Eva has therefore also “composed” a walking route through the fort. The audience will be broken up into groups, each of which will follow a different path through the fort. The musicians will also be dispersed throughout the building. The musicians cannot always see each other, but are always audible to each other and to the listeners. This format makes huge demands on the musicians (who are mainly amateurs), who have to listen carefully to each other in order to play together. It is also an entirely new departure for Eva in terms of writing and performing her work. The fort itself is an important character in the production, not only because the fort’s history forms the central theme of the opera, but also through Eva’s use of the building’s acoustics to allow the sound to reverberate.

Eva regularly brought her work-in-progress to the Conservatoire to discuss it during her lessons with Calliope Tsoupaki, Peter Adriaansz and Cornelis de Bondt. The opera has set her thinking about who she wants to be as a composer and as a person, she says. She discovered that she greatly enjoyed every aspect of the project and has also been involved in its production, the recruitment of the musicians (where do you find 33 horn players!?) and the crowdfunding campaign to finance the performance of Op Wacht. The project has been an exciting and instructive experience for everyone who worked on it in any capacity. Eva hopes that the same will be true of all her future compositions.

Times and tickets for Op Wacht
Saturday 21 September, 12.00, 14.00 and 19.00
Sunday 22 September, 12.00, 14.30 and 19.00
For more information and tickets: opwacht.nl