The annual Gaudeamus Muziekweek is the oldest music festival in the Netherlands. It is THE international meeting place for young composers and musicians from all over the world. This year marks the 75th anniversary of this innovative and progressive festival for music pioneers.

As many of the values and ideas of the festival overlap with our KonCon culture, it does not come as a surprise that the KonCon Family is always well-represented at Gaudeamus; also, in 2020. We watched many of our students, teachers and alumni create, play and discuss contemporary music online and offline.

Kees Tazelaar and Laura Agnusdei
70 years ago, composers could not have predicted that electronic music would become as broad a field and as widespread as it is today. Kees Tazelaar, Head of the Sonology Department discusses with KonCon Alumna Laura Agnusdei the history of electronic music and the developments in the contemporary field. Laura Agnusdei studied Classical Music Saxophone in Bologna and Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire. She finished her studies with a distinction in 2019 and is now a research associate at our Sonology Department. Furthermore, Laura regularly receives artistic residency invitations from notable institutions in Italy and The Netherlands. Learn more about Laura and her search for a different sound here.

School voor Jong Talent student Adinda plays Messer's Droom
Being only twelve years old, violinist Adinda van Delft made history as the youngest performer at Gaudeamus Music Week ever. She played the piece Messer's Droom by composer and KonCon teacher Trevor Grahl on the opening night of the festival and received for her performance praising words by the NRC.

Kluster 5
It isn’t the first Gaudeamus for the Alumni Ensemble Kluster5. In 2017, Kluster5 had the honour of be the Ensemble in Residence at the festival. The line-up of violin, saxophone, guitar, piano and percussion makes them unique. The quintet works closely with young composers to come to new creations and they like to present known music in wilful new arrangements. For this year’s Gaudeamus Festival, Kluster5 played KonCon music by composition alumni Louis Andriessen, Alex Kordzaia and Celia Swart.

Yannis Kyriakides - One Hundred Years (world premiere)
Main Subject Teacher Composition Yannis Kyriakides wrote the piece ‘One Hundred Years’ in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the festival. It premiered last Saturday in Het Concertgebouw. You can listen to this concert on Radio NPO4.

Kyriakides on his composition:
‘One hundred years is built on the encoding of the days of all solar eclipses, which took (and will take) place from 1945 to 2045. Composed during this extraordinary year we are experiencing, 2020, the piece scans the past 75 years, from the beginning of the so-called 'atomic age', and looks forward 25 years to 2045, the date given by Ray Kurzweil, when technological 'singularity' will supposedly occur - the moment when artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence. Historian Paul Rogers writes of this passage of time in his essay: A Century On The Edge: From Cold War To Hot World: 1945-2045 - marks a period when the human community faces the choice of taking decisions that lead to immense self-destruction or of acquiring the wisdom to handle its own destructive capabilities. The piece is not meant as a narrative comment on specific dates or years that are named, rather a contemplation on the passing of time. How we look to the past and how we look to the future. As we hear dates and years gone by, we might associate them with historical or personal memories, and perhaps feel melancholic about a lost age, or identify with a particular decade. Hearing dates in the future, might give rise to uncertainty and fear, but might also evoke feelings of excitement and hope.‘

Yannis Kyriakides is one of The Netherlands’ leading and most innovative composers of the last decennia. In the beginning of this year, Kyriakides won the Johan Wagenaar Prijs.

Calliope Tsoupaki presents her latest Composition
In honour of the 75th anniversary of the festival, the contemporary music ensemble Asko|Schönberg played pieces by composers who have a longstanding cooperation with the festival. One of those composers is Calliope Tsoupaki, Componist des Vaderlands and Main Subject Teacher Composition. Her new composition ‘Summer 2020’ premiered at Gaudeamus. It was the first live performance for Calliope since the lockdown. The title already hints at the theme of the composition. In the video below, you can listen back to the concert and watch an interview with the composer.

Harp Sirens
One of this year’s highlights of the festival was the Lunchtime Concert at TivoliVredenburg played by the KonCon ensemble Harp Sirens. Founded by KonCon Alumna Michela Amici, the ensemble consists of six harpists and is dedicated to contemporary music. The ensemble searches for a new sound for the harp in a cheerful, innovative way. The ensemble played compositions by KonCon Composition and Sonology students Esther Wu and Julian Maple-Oliviera. KonCon Conducting student Hardy Li conducted the concert.

Nirantar Yakthumba
KonCon Composition student Nirantar Yakthumba wrote Sculpture 2 for the project DIGITAL MINIATURES, a collaboration between Oerknal and the Royal Conservatoire. Nirantar is originally from Nepal. Sculpture 2 is a compositional study in proportion and ritual written for solo viola and electronics. It is part of the Sculpture series of (ongoing) works that are all based on mandalas and are devoted to the Hindu goddess Kali, the goddess of time. In Sculpture 2, the image of the circle is embedded in each of the parameters which are presented in waves that are gradually diminished proportionately as the piece unfolds. The piece also attempts to express the dichotomy between the acoustic and electronic worlds.

75 Years Gaudeamus - Konstantyn Napolov & Martijn Padding
KonCon Alumnus and percussionist Konstantyn Napolov is a big advocate of new repertoire for percussion instruments, a relatively young group of instruments. The Dutch Golden Collection is a collection of worldwide important solo and chamber music for percussion instruments composed by Dutch composers. For Gaudeamus, Napolov played a composition by Martijn Padding. The Golden Collection used this recording for a beautiful performance video in Utrecht’s museumkwartier.

For more information, please also check the website of the Gaudeamus Festival and re-watch the entire week on YouTube.