Catching up 5: Ríos (Rivers)

One of the greatest events for me over the last years was the premiere of ‘Ríos’ (Rivers) by the NAKK (Nieuw Amsterdams Klarinet Kwartet) and the UvA Orchestra Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (oldest symphony orchestra of Amsterdam, 144 years in 2022) under the guidance of conductor Konradin Herzog at the famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, 18th of June 2019.
A concerto for clarinet quartet and symphony orchestra depicting four rivers that have a special meaning for me. This is what I wrote on ‘Ríos’:
I was born near the river, swam in her weels, skated on her swales, rode my bike on her dike for 6 year to the city and finally worked on a river ship. Finally ending up in a town without a river and missing her every day. To find her back 18 years ago.
River’s streaming water is the planet’s blood, simultaneously soothing, nourishing, traffic vein and menace. This is my tribute to these streams, and a wish dating back many many years.
Four portraits of four rivers that I relate to personally and even more precisely specific places on these rivers:
1. River Rhine; where I was born, in the small village of Bemmel behind the dikes of the Rhine’s branch ‘Waal’. This movement is full of references to other composers writing about the Rhine.
2. The Mississippi river at New Orleans where my brother-in-law Torbjörn and his family live, driving force in this movement is a ‘Stomp/Ragtime’-like motive.
3. The Chao Phraya River at Bangkok; the first river in Asia that I ever made a boat-trip on. It made a huge impression on me and I felt like living my favourite (dutch) novel by the author Jan Jacob Slauerhoff: ‘Het Leven op Aarde’ (Life on Earth).
4. River Surinam (Suriname-rivier); the river that I traveled upon with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble in so-called ‘korjalen’ (kayaks) upstream for about 4 hours with all our instruments and further equipment to arrive at the wonderful village of Botopasi (only to be reached by boat) where we had one of the most incredible concerts ever. The rhythmical hammering motive in this movement refers to the immensely loud noise crickets make every night at sunset at the exact moment of the disappearance of the sun.
NAKK performed other pieces of mine before, they are excellent musicians of a new generation. The Sweelinck Orchestra is an amateur orchestra of the highest level and their conductor Konradin Herzog is a very intelligent and sensitive musician. Last but not least the theatrical setting created by my friend Pepijn Cladder was subtle and tasteful.
Sold-out concert, what a night!

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