Napraten met Marike van Dijk

4 October 2022

On September 23rd saxophonist and composer Marike van Dijk was a guest at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Together with students, she performed compositions for large ensemble from her Stereography Project.

Marike grew up in the fanfare-culture in Friesland. When she turned 14 she started to play along in the big band of a music school, and in a punk band. She started learning about chords and at the age of 16, she went to the Conservatory of Utrecht to follow a preparatory course. She did her bachelor's at Codarts and her master's at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Marike: 'During my Amsterdam time, I did an exchange with the Manhattan School of Music in New York and I knew right away that I wanted to come back. Three years later I started a master's at New York University, in this study, I focussed more on composition. I took lessons in film music, contemporary music, jazz composition and a course in big ensemble composing. This course resulted in my own big 'chamber-jazz' ensemble: The Stereography Project. I recorded 2 albums with them in New York. Last week at the conservatory we played with the same instruments as this ensemble: A string quartet, 5 wind players and a piano trio. Several elements from my younger years come back in this project: a large ensemble and a mixture of different genres.'

The music on The Stereography Project comes from 2 albums, released in 2015 and 2018. The first one mostly consisted of Marike's compositions. For the second album, she collaborated with two singer-songwriters: Jeff Taylor and Katell Keineg. Marike made arrangements of their songs.
'I really liked to hear this music live again. I didn't play it that often because of the size of the band, so it was nice that I was able to perform it with the students of the Royal Conservatoire.

The students focussed really well. We worked hard during our long daily rehearsals.
For example, we played an open improv score I made. I also performed this score with other musicians, it was great to see how a group of students handled the material. During this project, I realised how much I like it to work with a group of musicians and making sure that everybody is involved to support the community feeling. I am very conscious of the energy in a group, and because I expect input from everyone, I try to make sure that everybody is involved and has fun playing the music. '

Sybren (B1 jazz violin) was one of the participating students: 'For me, this was the first official project since I am part of the jazz department, so that was quite exciting, but the project was really nice!
I found the music very special, a good mixture of jazz with classical and minimal influences. Marike challenged us to also come up with our own ideas.

I had to swallow at my improv solo in 'The End' and I was even ready to hand it over to someone else, but I am happy that Marike convinced me to not give up. I learned a lot from improvising to a chord scheme I was not used to and analysing the chords and making a plan together with Marike and Jaume (the saxophonist who played a solo in the same piece).