Beautiful music, said Kofi Annan

As Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation floated ashore on the island Cyprus like a pearl in a shell, so did the music commission by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.

Would I write and perform a piece for the opening show of Making Waves, a conference that helps innovative ideas to get past the ‘promising stage’ by connecting them to investors, organizations and policy and decision makers during a unique one-day event on the Dutch Afsluitdijk?

So far, I had always stayed clear of composing music myself. My late grandfather had once questioned the need of composing himself as there was already so much good music out there. Somehow, that stopped me from writing music, even though I have always enjoyed improvising and ‘creatively structuring’ events.

As a DJ, I’m very grateful that there is indeed so much good music out there, but why on earth should that stop me from writing the occasional piece of ear candy myself? Secretly I had been jotting down quite a few musical ideas already which I could use in my DJ-sets or for arrangements of songs that my choir like to sing.

What better reason to finally open the floodgates of my musical soul than for an event called Making Waves?

So I found 6 other musicians to join me in this endeavour and started writing the music for what has become the first commission for me as a composer… within 48 hours.

My opus no. 1, titled , is written for soprano, oboe, 3 violas, cello and percussion. It’s short but sweet and also had to work as a soundtrack for a relatively abstract video of fresh water and sea water mixing.

I consider myself very lucky to swim in a pool of extremely talented musicians and I’m sure the première would not have been such a success if it weren’t for the sparkling voice of Laetitia Gerards, the enchanting sound of Marlies van Gangelen and her oboe, the mesmerising tones of 3Violas and grinding grooves of Roël Calister.

The positive feedback was overwhelming. From an audience of more than 500 people included entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, politicians, even the Netherlands Chief of Defence, the most memorable compliment came from the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan… who simply said: “Beautiful music”.

Have a look ‘n listen and please let me know what you think. It’s also worth scrolling back a bit to hear our more music we interpreted and improvised.

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Mr Kofi Annan and Ms Melanie Schultz at Making Waves.

A big thank you goes to Nathan Wiersma of SVP Sfeerbefeer who made this all possible and created an unforgettable event.

On to the next composition. There’s a lot more music to be made from those waves!

 

 

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Lucas Dols and Brendan Jan Walsh

Who let the dogs out?

Yesterday in Paradiso Amsterdam, the brilliant musician, educator and friend Lucas Dols hosted a charity concert for Sounds of Change. This foundation trains aid workers and teachers to integrate music as an empowering tool in their work with children in (post) conflict areas.

I met Lucas whilst preparing for my first ‘Syrious Mission’ to the Middle East to give music workshops refugee children and teach local young creative professionals who in turn could give workshops to the kids themselves.

Those children grow up away from their homes, have nightmares of the horrors they saw, fight to survive in their interrupted youth. But somehow, they continue to play, laugh, learn and share. I experienced first- hand that music brings hope, opportunities, connection and empowerment into their lives.

It’s a small effort to help a friend. If we all help our friends, the world will become more beautiful one small gesture at a time.

Lucas, you’re a hero! Keep up the good work.

Will you help Lucas too? 

Here’s a short video portrait of the work Lucas and I did as part of Syrious Mission.

Children's Testimony in Time of War from Urok Shirhan on Vimeo.

 

Golden oldie

Precisely 2 years ago I enjoyed the honour and the liberty of building a stage at the Beyond Festival in the Netherlands. It was called “Closet-Gebouw” and hosted classical music performances between the ladies and gents, the lavatories, the loo, also known as the festival toilets. It rained compliments in the style of: Best shit ever!

Remembering this memorable event, I came across the video that was made to announce BEYOND and what it means to me personally. Take a moment to take it in. And relax.