Comissioned by “Symfonieorkest Nijmegen”, the symphonic orchestra of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, for their anniversary.
The piece called “Stroom”, or “Stream”, embodies the centuries-old connection between the river Waal and the city of Nijmegen. The piece was commissioned by Symfonieorkest Nijmegen to commemorate their 70-year anniversary. The orchestra is conducted by Frans-Aert Burghgraef. The piece combines natural sounds of the city and nature with sweeping harmonies and unforgiving rhythms, just like how our civilisation has to work together with nature, just like the city of Nijmegen does with the Waal river.
The piece is written for large symphonic orchestra with a duration of 05:30 minutes.
Dive into a hazy autumn morning.
I can’t get enough of my Lumix camera and the vintage Canon lens I use it with. Waking up one early November morning I found the world shrouded in fog – before I knew I rushed outside with my camera towards the local forest. The result is as mysterious as it is tranquil, almost meditative, video and soundtrack.
“Distant Light” is an animation created for the choir piece by the same title. Based on Illustrations by Paul van Gemen and on text by Elea Bekkers. Animation and composition by me. Arranged for high voices by Hansje van Welbergen.
Performed by Veronika Akhmetchina, Marleen van Os, Channe Visscher, Viktoria Nikolova, Sylvia Boone, Hansje van Welbergen and Elea Bekkers.
The trees seem green. The yellow leaves float feebly to the forest floor.
And as she took off she realised she could not fly.
Not even the sun now warmed the city that had killed her dreams.
The light is low and they could only fall.
In february the city of Utrecht was suddenly treated to a thick blanket of snow, resulting in a winter wonderland. I took my amazing Panasonic Lumix S5 camera out, geared with a vintage canon lens (FD 50mm f/1.4) and took it all in through the viewfinder. My fingers froze over, but it was definitely worth it!
Soundtrack, videography and color grading by me.
In socially distanced times personal affection is hard to come by, if not forbidden. With Embrace I translated the feeling of a warm, intimate hug with a loved one to music so we can all still enjoy a hug, albeit a virtual one.
I worked on this piece throughout the first lockdown in 2020. The track was then mastered and mixed by Rogier Steijaert. Listen to the piece on your favourite platform, or check it out below.
In the golden hour of autumn, I went out to capture the beautiful colors and ambience with a vintage Canon lens from the 80’s. The result is truly spectactular.
Videography, color grading and editing by me. The video is accompanied by a new piece of music which finds a home in my Lifelines project.
Following the finale performance of the Riciotti “Niet Normaal!” tour it was announced that my piece Fifteen Decimeter Supermarket Music, or “Vijftien Decimeter Supermarktmuziek for you Dutchies, won first price in the composition competition in which I was earlier announced as a top 3 contender.
For the competition I wrote “Fifteen Decimeter Supermarkt Music”, a piece which splits the orchestra into two halves, both representing a visitor in a supermarket. What follows is a series of awkward and silly interactions we’ve all grown all too familiar to since the outbreak of the COVID-19 outbreak. From people reaching for the same product at the same time, to a conquest for the last pack of toilet paper.
The competition called for pieces reflecting on the current measures taken by the Dutch government to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as the 1,5m distance rule. Not only had composers write a piece of music taking this into account, the composers themselves were also tasked with creating spatial planning for their piece and the orchestra, taking the COVID-19 measures into account.
During a very rainy open-air performance, the three finalist works were performed by the Ricciotti Ensemble, amongst other pieces, in the Openlucht Theater Hertme in front of a compact audience due to the COVID-19 regulations. The performance was broadcasted live to a livestream. The registration can be found below.
During my travels this summer I visited the Isle of Skye. A breathtaking place, unwordly even, unlike any other. In an effort to portray this beauty I made a video and a soundtrack entitled “Skye”. Available on all major music download and streaming services!
The Isle of Skye. It feels like they took Scotland and boiled all its beauty down and put it on a seperate island. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The island has been overrun by tourism in recent years: day trippers driving their car up to the famous landmarks, taking pictures, and leaving again. Lucky for the adventurous people among us – you’ll find solitude off the beaten path. Well, off the tarmac, that is. The Isle of Skye is home to the aptly named Skye Trail, a rural multi-day hike that takes you from one end of the island to the other.
As crowded as the roads were – so lonely and solemn was the trail. There were days I’d run into only one person going the other way. We’d exchange hello’s and inform eachother about the state of the trail up ahead. There’s something peaceful about the whole ordeal; on the trail the only world that exists is the world you can see and feel. A beautiful yellowish-green landscape of rolling hills with the occasional cliff and sudden outburt of rocks.
I left heavily packed – it was my first long solo trip. Not only that, I’d be wildcamping (my first time ever) and my food allergies mean I need to be prepared for the full trip. My backpack weighed in at a hefty 16kg. I left home with a feeling of doubt – I came back in euphoria. What I thought of as the hardest trip I’d ever make turned out to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding journeys of my life till date.
I packed my camera and came back with my camera filled with video material and a soundtrack written in my head. They boiled down scotland and made it into the Isle of Skye. I took the Isle of Skye and boiled it down to a video.
Wayfare Concerto was commissioned as an ouverture by the Utrecht Student Orchestra (USConcert). With little more in terms of requirements than length and instrumentation, I had total creative freedom. Wayfare Concerto is the result: a large orchestral work encompassing humanity’s fascination with the great unknown: space.
The piece is divided into three movements. The first movement, “Wanderlust”, is about the itch to go to space. To the ends of history humanity has always been fascinated by the sky and everything beyond. The second movement, “Ode to Laika”, is an ode to Laika, the dog the USSR sent to space during the infamous “space race” between the USSR and the USA. Laika died shortly after leaving Earth’s atmosphere, due to overheating and stress. The third movement, “The Journey”, resembles an actual journey into space. The hectic preparations, the launch, the weightlessness and touchdown.
Behind this all was a motivation to first and foremost write an exciting and fun piece to play for the Utrecht Student Orchestra. Wayfare Concerto will première on tour with the orchestra in Graz, Austria. The Dutch première will follow in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
For upcoming performances of Wayfare Concerto, see the concerts page.
I am part of the Dutch Chamberchoir’s talent development programme, NKK NXT. I contributed to the project in many ways: I’m one of the eight singers, had a share in the concept, wrote new choral music for the choir, designed the marketing material and shared in the marketing tasks.
NKK NXT was tasked with one thing: create the choral performance of the future. For half a year with seven others Sem worked together on the concept. The result is “I Want To Be Like You”, a performance that blurs the line between what is real and fake by envisioning what role technology will have in the future of choral music. For the concept “Alex Inc.” was created, an AI wanting to be human, using the singers of NKK NXT 18/19 to find what it is to be truly human in a series of simulations.
NKK NXT 18/19 performed multiple times, including a sold out three-day concert series in Het Huis Utrecht and multiple festivals. For upcoming dates, check the concerts page.
Photography by Veerle Basitaanssen and Sem Hak.