Two weeks ago at 09:00 in the morning I arrived at the famous Wisseloord Studios together with recording technician Rogier Steijaert. We left around 18:30, carrying a suprisingly light USB-drive containing all that I’ve been working towards for so long. Well, I heard the first rough cuts of the music yesterday, and it’s everything I hoped for and more.
Now starts the process of selecting, cutting and combining the best takes of every track, the adding of miscellaneous instruments and finally the mixing and mastering which I will all do together with Rogier.
It was an amazing day which luckily Janna van Hienen captured with her camera so that I can share a bit of the ambience with all of you, as well as look back on a very overwhelming day in peace and quiet.
All photos by Janna van Hienen
Sarah Lynn Huizing
Ian de Jong
Myrthe van der Mullen
Julia Casañas Castellví
Nil Domenech Fuertes
Irene Cancer Navarro
Eva van Schaik
Great news! The crowdfunding for the recording of my upcoming Lifelines album has succeeded with 101% of the target funds. There isn’t much else to say but that I’m immensely grateful for every single donation, big and small, and that I can’t wait to release the album. I’m expecting a release in early summer of 2022. Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter using the form below to stay in the know and be one of the first to be notified about the album’s release.
I’ve been working on my upcoming album “Lifelines” for practically years now. It’s been a slow but fulfilling process; writing the music when it comes to me. Lifelines is about how lives can be visualised as lines that twist, turn, wither and break, and in the process cross with numerous other lines; other lives.
As all the pieces I intend to write for the album are coming close to completion, it’s time to look beyond the horizon. I’ve gotten used to not recording my music, but using digital instruments instead. It’s a whole trade on its own, to tweak and tinker with digital instruments in such a way that they come together in a realistic and convincing manner. But, it’s never quite there. Nothing beats properly recording your music with skilled musicians.
When I recorded Skye with a group of string players in 2019 it only proved that point: there’s nothing quite like bringing your music to life with musicians who have heart for your music.
So that is what I intend to do: I want to record my next album, Lifelines, with a complete string orchestra and other instruments like electric guitar, dulcimer, theremin and many more. In this process I want to support professional musicians around me by paying them a proper wage; something that even before the pandemic wasn’t a given.
I want to ask you, a faithful supporter of my work or maybe just a lucky visitor: will you help me make this dream come true, and with that support a whole lot of professional musicians in these uncertain times? If so, you are very welcome to donate any amount you can spare using the link below. Thank you!
Update: the recording of my album has gained a €3000,- grant from the province of Utrecht and No Man’s Land festival! Having not only people believe in my work but also such large organisations gives me great hope that this project will find its way. Donations are still very much needed however to reach the additional €5000,- needed.
Update 2: almost €1000.- raised already, thank you so, so much! That means that in barely one week we managed to get to 20%. Let’s keep this energy going!
Recently I changed my name from Niels to Sem. I’d like to share a few words for those interested and who’d like to learn more about being trans and non-binary.
In recent years I have discovered a whole lot about myself; this includes my gender-identity. I comfortably identify as non-binary, meaning I am neither a man or a woman, nor is my identity in any way related to that binary system. Non-binary, to me, means no such thing as being “X% man and X% woman”, I simply do not associate with those terms. Mind you, the non-binary gender identity is a broad term and different non-binary people might define the term differently. Something to keep in mind. One thing is oftentimes universally agreed on though: non-binary is an identity that breaks from the imperialist concept of the binary gender system.
In combination with my newfound gender identity (it’s been two incredibly happy years already!) I have recently started using the pronouns they/them (die/diens for my Dutch pals). Pronouns are the terms you use to refer to a person without using their name. For example: “That’s Sem on their bike. Sem is Dutch so they‘re pretty good at biking”. The same example in Dutch: “Dat is Sem op diens fiets. Sem is Nederlands dus die kan best wel goed fietsen”.
Even more recently I decided it was time to leave my masculine name, Niels, behind and go with something more neutral: Sem. Henceforth I’m Sem, Niels is in the past. This new name means a lot to me and it is icing on the cake of my social transition. Now, neither my calling name nor my pronouns are connected to my troubled past as a ‘man’.
After well over a year of delay my recently written piece for the symphony orchestra of Nijmegen will finally be performed. 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 will be performed alongside Jean Sibelius’s violin concert (solist: Noa Wildschut) and Mendelssohns Third Symphony (‘Scottish’) in both Zuthpen and Nijmegen. Check out the website of Symfonieorkest Nijmegen for tickets and dates.
Gasp! My first newsletter went out! Addressed to the lucky first subscribers, I’d love to add you to that list. Subscribe below! The first edition of the newsletter, or News Hak as I like to call it, can be read through this link. This edition features new video work, including an exclusive sneak preview of new work that is yet to be premiered, lucky you! You missed out on that for at least two weeks for not subscribing yet though, so let that sink in for a moment. I also feature wonderful fellow artists Elea Bekkers and Micky Dirkszwager in this newsletter, something I like to keep up in future editions.
Genderpraatjes.nl has been live for just shy of two months now. Genderpraatjes is a dutch platform created by Transgender Netwerk Nederland and me for young people having questions about their gender or their journey as a trans person. People can chat, call or email with the experienced people behind the website. Friends, family and caretakers are also welcome to chat, call or email with questions they might have concerning people they know.
Genderpaatjes has been positively received by both the community and a variety of news outlets, for being the first platform of its kind. In the first week alone the website attracted over two thousand visitors.
I built and designed Genderpraatjes to be both accessible and playful at the same time. Warm yet playful colours interact with eachother throughout the website, and every page is one click away from contacting any of the staff.
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 is was earlier announced as a top 3 contender.
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.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been selected as a finalist of Ricciotti’s composition competition! From 30 submissions from all over the world and from composers from all walks of life I’m honored to be included in the final three pieces up for consideration.
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.
All three pieces of the winning composers, the other composers being Maarten Bauer and Martin Valcke, will be performed this coming 23rd of August by the Ricciotti Ensemble at 14:30. The top 3 will be determined by a jury, while additionally the audience can vote for the audience award. The concert can be attended digitally through a livestream.
These are uncertain times for any artist and I am very lucky to still be able to practise composing music, for which some exciting things are up ahead! In September “Temperature Music”, a piece written for the ICOS Science Conference portraying global temperatures rising through music, is set to premiere in Utrecht, The Netherlands. About 8 (and counting) further performances planned throughout Europe.
Later in September, NKK NXT 19/20 is set to perform my choral piece “Distant Light” on a text by Elea Bekkers, arranged for female singers. Not a premiere, but nonetheless very exciting!
In November an overture written for the anniversary of the Symphony Orchestra of Nijmegen will premiere as part of their jubilee concert in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
As you can see, lots and lots of things to look forward to! Have a look at the concert agenda for information, dates and tickets.