One Thousand Roads was written for the opening concert of the Bachfestival Dordrecht, with the festival theme ‘travelling’ in mind. Bach himself did not travel much. Except for his hike to hear Buxtehude play, he was pretty much a stay-at-home kind of guy. Unlike his peer Handel, who went to England and made a flourishing living there as a free artist, Bach always remained in the service of the church.
This does not alter the fact that Bach travelled in his music: he knew the music of his contemporaries well and used, cited and processed it in his own work. You could say that Bach travelled by appropriating the music of others. Bach not only traveled horizontally in his music but also vertically, into heaven. In the course of the last century, we have come to regard Bach himself almost as a saint.
One Thousand Roads is all about that horizontal and vertical roaming. It's about the thousand different reasons to travel, about Bach's foot journey to Buxethude and the account of his rebuke by the consistory. And ultimately it’s about the last journey everyone makes.
The lyrics were taken from Google (Travel), the proceedings of the Arnstadt consistory (Rebuke) and from some Bach cantatas (Prayer). Chorale is based upon one of Bach’s many chorales that use the melody O Welt, Ich Muß dich lassen.
Performance - Rianne Wilbers Composer - Anthony Fiumara Camera & Edit - Stefan Martens, Jornt Duyx Audio - Jornt Duyx Dress - Dauvia Nijenhuis
Rianne and I asked our followers on social media: what do you think of when you hear the word 'Embrace'. Out of these replies I distilled these lyrics:
Embrace yourself. Embrace all that is you. Embrace the piece and silence. Embrace everything you feel. Embrace the cold and the warm. Embrace the people around you. Embrace all you cannot change. Embrace the people who wouldn’t. Embrace for warmth. Embrace to be safe. Embrace me hold me and give me some safety, In this world of uncertainty. Embrace and feel that you can carry and cherish yourself. Embrace your loved ones in happiness and sadness. The first embrace from your crib and the love we felt when you were born. Embrace to be safe.
philharmonie zuidnederland, Duncan Ward Livestream Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, 29 October 2020
My studio is on the top floor of my house. Through the windows I look out over other buildings in the city, but I mainly see the clouds moving through the sky every day.
I am always impressed by the constant and steady change of their shapes and colors. The heavy clouds are beautiful, far away and at the same time close, impressive and timeless—every time I look at them. Their silent floating in a motionless firmament seems to be a big part of their strength. To me they represent the passage of time and the unpredictability of the future.
Time passes differently for different beings and things. Like the clouds our lives are short and fleeting. The past months have made that clearer than ever.
Yet we always keep hope—as if we are looking at the sky, waiting for the redeeming rain.
On 26 February, philharmonie zuidnederland and conductor Mario Brunello will perform See the Sky About to Rain on Radio 4.
America has produced a number of writers, thinkers, and composers who consciously wanted to live their lives in isolation or exile. Henry David Thoreau, Conlon Nancarrow and John Luther Adams are just a few examples of these American hermits.
What I think is special about the American poet Emily Dickinson is that she spent her whole life secluded in her childhood home in Amherst, Massachusetts — hidden in plain sight. Her poems also remained hidden until after her death: a chest full, which her sister did not destroy but published against Emily’s wishes.
In 2020 we will all have become hermit-like. We keep our distance from each other, work from our own homes where possible and look forward to the time when we can reunite in larger numbers in concert halls, theaters, cinemas and festivals.
I composed Emily for a series of concerts dealing with themes around Covid-19. Her poems about death, isolation and immortality are more relevant than ever.
Emily was premiered by soprano Marene Elgershuizen and Matangi Quartet, for NTR Radio 4 in Muziekhaven, Zaandam. Matangi Quartet also performed my first string quartet I Dreamed in the Cities at Night. You can listen to the entire program here.
In December, Marene and I were interviewed about the project for newspaper Trouw.