Listening in Leeuwarden, or, How Meaning Makes Silence

By Chris Tonelli

Last Saturday in Leeuwarden the bromming of occasional bromfietsen punctuated the densely layered but relatively quiet urban soundscape in the Wilhelminaplein area. I went to Leeuwarden to listen, to wander urban space for a few hours with sustained attention to sound. I went to listen to whatever sounds appeared, motorized or otherwise. Continue reading “Listening in Leeuwarden, or, How Meaning Makes Silence”

Blurring Visual Art, Musical Composition, & Theatre with Musical Mail Art

by Chris Tonelli
Groningen University    

The concept of “blurring art and life” stands in for a series of ideals: the notion we can all see ourselves as artists, rather than just a specialized few; the notion that we can approach our daily activities with the attitudes we take to artistic work; and the notion our experience can be enriched by acting outside of the normative economics and patterns of distribution of artistic work, to name a few. Artists like Ray Johnson and Ken Friedman saw the postal system as a tool for achieving these ideals and went on to develop the tradition of mail art. While mail art may seem best suited to those who identify primarily as visual artists or poets, the work of Southern California based composer Jude Weirmeir has demonstrated that mail art can become a tool to reconfigure what it means to be a musical composer. Weirmeir has created a massive body of musical mail art scores—work that is equally visual art object, musical composition, catalyst for performance, and event in itself, as, around this work, sending, receiving, waiting for, and replying to mail art all take on the character of an aesthetic event.

Weirmeir (right) observes as soprano Fiona Chatwin performs his mail art score “Music for Soup” (a score designed to perch on the lip of a bowl of soup).

Continue reading “Blurring Visual Art, Musical Composition, & Theatre with Musical Mail Art”

Eurosonic Noorderslag: Research or Recognition?

by Rob Ahlers

This week the city of Groningen will once again dominate the European music stage. The 31st edition of the European Music and Showcase Festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) takes place from 11-14 January at various locations in Groningen. What once started out as a simple band competition between Dutch and Belgian bands in the mid 1980s has evolved into a multi-disciplinary music festival and an international media event that stimulates the circulation of European repertoires and festival networks. Continue reading “Eurosonic Noorderslag: Research or Recognition?”

An Autonomous Year for Eurovision?

By Quirijn van den Hoogen
Groningen University

This year Eurovision was particularly interesting to me. I have many fond childhood memories of watching a night of Euro-trash pop music ever since Johnny Logan’s victory 1980. But I lost interest somewhere in the late 1990s after Eastern Europe started entering the competition as an expression of their independence ‘regained’ after 1989, flooding the competition with Balkan pop. Continue reading “An Autonomous Year for Eurovision?”

Classical music meets Ecology: Hélène Grimaud’s new album Water

By Jeroen van Gessel
Groningen University

‘This is the world’s most precious commodity. We need to control as much of it as we can.’ Thus spoke Dominic Greene, the bad guy from Quantum of Solace, while taking in a performance of Tosca. He wasn’t talking about the opera, however, but about water and that’s as close as classical music and water ecology have ever gotten in the public imagination. Continue reading “Classical music meets Ecology: Hélène Grimaud’s new album Water”

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