Author Archives: Thea Derks

About Thea Derks

I am a Dutch music journalist, specializing in contemporary music, and a champion of women composers. In 2014 I wrote the biography of Reinbert de Leeuw (3rd edition in 2020) and in 2018 I published 'Een os op het dak: moderne muziek na 1900 in vogelvlucht'.

Maxim Shalygin composes Severade for 9 cellos & sound sculpture: ‘At first I had no idea what to do with all those new instruments’

The Ukrainian-Dutch composer Maxim Shalygin has established himself firmly in our Dutch musical life with his adventurous pieces. Last October, his choral work While Combing Your Hair, dedicated to the Belarusian dissident Maria Kaleshnikava, was a great success. In September, … Continue reading

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Le grand macabre György Ligeti: Surprisingly topical opera about the end of time

In Le Grand Macabre, the only opera György Ligeti ever composed, the protagonist Nekrotzar announces the end of time, but at the moment supreme he is the only one who perishes. The absurdist work was staged in this country in … Continue reading

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Musical journey down the Nile in ‘Afrique’ by Richard Rijnvos

Born in Tilburg, the Netherlands, in 1964, Richard Rijnvos avoids the beaten tracks; his work cannot be pigeonholed. Indeed, he does not regard ‘style’ as a starting point, but as the unsuspected outcome of the creative process. On Saturday 13 … Continue reading

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Anájikon Konstantia Gourzi – music in which the sun always shines

In 1984, the German label ECM initiated its NEW SERIES to promote the ‘neo-spiritual’ music of such greats as Arvo Pärt & Giya Kancheli. Their style was considered kitschy at the time, but later they grew into highly lauded composers. … Continue reading

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Composer Hawar Tawfiq: ‘Alexander Hrisanide opened my eyes to the beauty of life’

While for many the corona-lockdown implied a considerable loss of work, violinist/composer Hawar Tawfiq (1982) was busier than ever. Since April 2020, he has been working continuously on four pieces, of which the previously postponed Babylon aan de IJssel will … Continue reading

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Tan Dun composes Trombone Concerto ‘Three Muses in Video Game’ for Concertgebouw Orchestra: ‘It is an ode to antique Chinese instruments’

At the request of Jörgen van Rijen, solo trombonist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tan Dun composed a concerto that will have its world premiere on 5 November 2021. The intriguing title is Three Muses in Video Game. How did he … Continue reading

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Calliope Tsoupaki writes ‘Odysseus’, an opera without voice: ‘The dramaturgy is in the music’

At the request of Asko|Schönberg, Calliope Tsoupaki created Odysseus, in collaboration with visual artist Awoiska van der Molen. What happens when we are in danger of losing control, when an action leads to irreversible consequences? The full-length piece premieres on … Continue reading

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Nai Barghouti: ‘I have always felt a strong connection between Arabic music and jazz’

The star of the Palestinian singer, composer and flute player Nai Barghouti is rising in the Netherlands. She was a guest of the renowned tv-show Podium Witteman, won the Concertgebouw Young Talent Award 2020, and boasts almost 80,000 followers on … Continue reading

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Joey Roukens honours J.P. Sweelinck: ‘He may well be the greatest Dutch composer ever’

Four hundred years ago, on 16 October 1621 to be precise, the organist, harpsichordist and composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck died in Amsterdam. Musicians from all over Europe flocked to the Dutch capital to hear the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam’, and through … Continue reading

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Ukrainian Composer Maxim Shalygin honours Belarusian dissident Maria Kalesnikava in ‘While Combing Your Hair’

In 2011, Maxim Shalygin  (Ukraine, 1985) came to the Netherlands to study composition with Cornelis de Bondt and Diderik Wagenaar at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. He never left and has meanwhile acquired a firm position in Dutch musical … Continue reading

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