Temperature Music

For the ICOS science conference I wrote “Temperature Music”, a piece that translates the current climate crisis to music to better instill its severity in the listener.

Comissioned in 2019 its performance was delayed due to COVID but it finally found its stage in September of 2022, at the ICOS science conference in TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, The Netherlands. The piece was performed by musicians of the Utrechtsch Studenten Concert and was conducted by Sander Teepen. The piece was received to much enthusiasm both from visitors as the (climate) scientists who were present at large.

The piece goes through the history of climate change until the present day and is accompanied by an animation displaying several milestones in climate science as well as a graph displaying the increase in temperature over time. With every performance a new snippet of music is added according to the new climate data from the time between the last and the newest performance.

The piece is influenced by minimalism as to display the continuity of the climate crisis.

15 Decimeter Supermarket Music

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.

“15 Decimeter Supermarket Music” at 42:25

Formations

In 2017 the Dutch Student Chamber Orchestra approached me for advice concerning an encore for their programme at the time. “Sure”, I said, “I’ll think about it for a bit”. Suggesting existing music is not really my style though, so I offered to write them a short piece that would fit their programme perfectly. “Formations” was born; an ode to the beautiful phenomenon of a flock of sterlings flying.

Performed by the Dutch Student Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Frans-Aert Burghgraef.

String Quartet no. 3

Listen to an excerpt of my third string quartet.

Performed by Dimitrijs, Sarah Lynn Huizing, Bas Ammerlaan and Berend Stumphius at the Utrecht Conservatory of Music, The Netherlands.

Jij Noemt Dit Kou

A piece for mezzo-soprano and piano on a poem by Elea Bekkers, performed by Elea Bekkers (mezzo-soprano) and Anne-Maartje Lemereis (piano). This was the first piece Sem wrote together with Elea, a collaboration which eventually led to art-collective STAATSGREEP.

Performed by Elea Bekkers and Anne-Maartje Lemereis.

A Modern Day Scheherazade

“A Modern Day Scheherazade”, performed by 10 very talented cellists from the HKU Utrecht Conservatory. As part of a school project we had 3 days to rehearse a full program and the results were absolutely terrific. Even though the piece is called Scheherazade, it doesn’t necessarily depict the literal story of a thousand and one nights. More so the contrast between fragility and power within the story, and how those two ultimates can ever so quickly turn into each other. All my thanks go out to the cellists and to Joel Hoffman for his coaching.