1992 Future plans in Diever

In Diever, there is a famous open air theatre, where Shakespeare plays are performed every summer. It was amazing to be a part of this world, to act and make music.

I hatched a plan for my future: become famous with my own rock band, then take over my Dad’s flute making business or teach music and theatre at a Rudolf Steiner school.

1998 ‘Plankgas’

Why are all the different art forms so strictly segregated?

While studying at the conservatoire in Amsterdam, I actively sought to collaborate with students from other faculties. I came up with a monthly scratch night at a theatre: Plankgas (Full speed ahead). It brought together the students’ most unusual work and resulted in communication and collaboration between theatre, dance, film and music. Every night was an adventure.

1999 Dialogue between nature, blast furnaces, percussion and wind instruments

I created a piece of music that was played in the dunes, under the smoke of the blast furnaces.

Massive steel art works were used as percussion, together with other iron objects, like oil drums. The audience walked through a landscape of sound. The members of the marching band Door Samenwerking Sterk stood dotted around the area. Fire lit the performance while a light breeze blew the whole thing to bits, which happened to sound pretty good.

Read more about how a marching band saved me from professional perfectionism.

2000 Sound and Space

By spreading musicians throughout a large building and placing dancers among the audience, sound, space and people came together into one musical experience. The performance was called La vie n’est pas un chocolat and was performed several times in special locations.

Watch Atrium – wind instruments and dancers in the city hall of The Hague

Watch Kalenderpanden – world of sound in an old warehouse

2001 A symphony for Chef, DJ, Grinder and Marching Band

It was my final composition exam for the conservatoire, but the committee did not want to come. I had arranged to use a shipyard, a marching band, a string orchestra, a rock band, a DJ, dancers and chefs. From the early evening into the next morning, live music, electronic beats and soundscapes merged together.

Watch a recording of the concert here

2002 A Night Life Adventure

In Paradiso and other night clubs, I organised nights in which performances, food, dance and DJ merged into one according to a tight schedule, creating a complete experience for the senses. It seemed to hang together loosely and fluidly, but it was actually very tightly planned.

Chefs, dancers, DJs and even masseurs and hair dressers were involved and worked together with countless musicians. From marching band to string quartet, from Scandinavian folk singers to Slovenian hard rock bands, from children’s choir to recorder orchestra – every minute was carefully plotted, but for the uninitiated visitor, the night seemed like a spontaneous confluence of performances, wisps of music, poetry, taste and smell.

Watch the videos of La nuit n’est pas un chocolat here.

Some news items:

Het Parool, 9 Maart 2004
Sp!ts, 30 december 2004
NRC Handelsblad, 31 december 2004
Telegraaf, 31 december 2004
Brabants Dagblad, 9 maart 2005

2003 The Rijksmuseum full of musicians

During the Museum Night 2003 in the Rijksmuseum, our intention was never to create a stage, but to have musicians, actors and dancers operate among the audience, spread out all over the building. This created a unity between the visitor and his or her environment, guiding their focus equally between the works of art, a social experience and experiencing a live performance.

Watch the compilation here

2004 Blindfolded theatre experience

Instead of sitting in red plush seats, the visitors of the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam were led through the catacombs of the theatre blindfolded. There were smells, sounds, the lift and strange hands that carried you away. The actors of Toneelgroep Amsterdam whispered their lines directly into the audience’s ears. Theatre had rarely been this intimate.

Click here for a short impression of Night on the Barents Sea

2005 Lecturer in Pop art

I became the youngest lecturer in the Netherlands.

At the ArtEZ University of the Arts, I went in search of a new role for art in the world. At meetings, lectures and conferences, I brought countless artists together who were creating new connections within society through their work. Their experiences and my vision can be found in the book Art in the World.

You can read Art in the World online here
Read an article about the importance of Pop Art
Read my inaugural address as lecturer

2008 Symphony for All

Performing a grand orchestral piece is a near supernatural experience that is currently exclusively reserved for professionals. The audience is generally only allowed to listen, with an appropriate attitude of humility and reverence, and technically this type of music is usually out of reach for amateurs.
I composed the Symphony for All, in which children, learners and amateurs played a grand orchestral work with a professional orchestra.
The segregation between performer and observer is lifted, everyone takes part, everyone creates. The audience is actively involved as well.

Watch the first version with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra here

Watch a video of the project with refugee children in Jordan with the Amman Symphony Orchestra

Watch a beautiful report on the project in Dessau, Germany

2009 TEDx Amsterdam

In between ideas from the likes of Robbert Dijkgraaf, Kevin Kelly, Frans Timmermans and Princess Mabel I got to tell my story.

Click here for my TED talk!

Read my opinion piece in Dutch newspaper NRC here

2011 The Voice of Haarlemmermeer

In Haarlemmermeer we gathered 800 singers through auditions, choirs and music schools#. At the opening of the new Cultural Centre in Hoofddorp they were scattered throughout the entire building. Snippets and fragments of a wide variety of sounds, styles and moods# came together into a whole which visitors were led through in small groups.

Watch the opening of the Cultural Centre here

2012 1000 Voices in Carré

In twenty-five locations in Amsterdam, choirs were set up, linked with a special vocal soloist, and set to work creating something. After performing concerts all over the city, eventually 1000 voices came together in one, massive original composition.

Watch a summary of the project here

2013 Resonance in the Domkerk

Resonance is a tranquil sound experience, an understated and magical world of sound created by hundreds of voices. There are no individual songs, there are no lyrics, very few recognisable melodies or rhythms, but a continuous evolution of pure sound, produced only by the human voice.

You can see a film of the performance in the Domkerk here

You can watch a version created in one morning at Musica Sacra, Maastricht (radio station MAX)

Watch images of a rehearsal with 300 singers in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam here

Watch the TV Noord (Groningen) news report here

2015 500 singers at Sensation

500 singers suddenly start singing from among the crowd. And later, at the climax of the evening, from the stands. The audience, who has come for a spectacular dance event, are touched by the pure sound of the human voice.

Click here for an impression of Sensation (video)

2016 A school for social impact

How can you bring art into society?

As an artist, how can you share not just your end product, but also and especially the creative journey that allows you to look at the world from a fresh perspective? How can you wake up your audience and transform them into active supporters?

With A Sharing Academy, I turned my own experiences into a method to help artists to make an impact on the world.

Watch an impression of Sharing Day on leap day 2016 (video)

Watch my talk on Sharing Day (video)

Watch in inspiring lecture about the role of the composer in the 21st century

2017 Joining forces

So what’s next?

The search continues.
Not for more performances, bigger stages or better reviews and photographs in the newspaper.
But for the best answer to the question:
How can art make a direct, active and lasting connection between the individual and the great issues in society today?
I hope to keep you informed.

Sign up for the newsletter here.

2017 Launch The Turn Club

In September 2017 I started The Turn Club. This brings together my ambitions to use artificial power for major societal challenges. It is a club where art professionals, agents of change and practical idealists share their dreams, plans and ideas with each other, increase their visibility and bring their innovation to new places.

After all, society craves new ideals. Creative and artistic professionals can, with their with imagination, style and research, play a significant role in major challenges we face today. Unfortunately, these creators and connectors often work project by project and isolated from each other.

The Turn Club tackles social issues with an artist’s mindset. We show what art does with examples, lectures and articles. We connect, by forging bonds between art and important issues and we help each other to make a turn from result-oriented work to a sharing and connecting process.

View the website of The Turn Club.