new music in the classical tradition –

Songs of War & Peace: German première

Holtslag&Ruysdael KwartetThe German premiere of Songs of War & Peace, for recorder and string quartet, has finally taken place: master recorder player Peter Holtslag, who commissioned the piece, played it with the Ruysdael Quartet in the opening days of the Summerwinds Festival in Münster on June 25, 2022. The score was also presented there by Edition Tre Fontane. Read more about the German premiere here.

 


New choral work for UTRECHT900

Utrecht900-van NieuwkerkThe city of Utrecht has city rights since the year 1122 and celebrates this during the summer of 2022 under the title: 900 years City without walls. On that occasion I wrote the Ballade: Utrecht met Recht (Rightly Utrecht)  for the Utrecht Chamber Choir. More about the piece and upcoming series of concerts here.

 

 

 

 

A Covid song on a cd about Dutch disasters

Camerata Trajectina

Scènes uit ons lot  (‘Scenes from Our Fate’) was premiered on June 5, 2021 in the Aegtenkapel, Amersfoort. It is a song, or ballad, on a text by former Dutch Poet Laureate Ester Naomi Perquin in which she describes our experiences of the Covid-crisis in vivid, and sometimes comical, detail. Written for Camerata Trajectina and its lead singer Nico van der Meel, it uses a renaissance mixed consort and mean-tone temperament to describe a very contemporary phenomenon.

 

 

 

 – new music in which the musically beautiful is most important.

Willem Wander van Nieuwkerk

Composing is a personal way of dealing with history. It is like walking through a landscape of numerous musical styles. My heart jumps by the fascinating thought that traditional melodies and styles in that historical landscape might be made to merge into something unheard of yet familiar.

I, therefore, love the beauty of melodies, how they may work together with other melodies to tell a purely musical story, and how their counterpoint may start to brim with rhythmic energy.

‘Dealing with history’ means that I relish building each new piece on a particular choice from the riches of musical heritage. My counterpoint is thus one of both melodies and of styles, from the Genevan Psalms to Bebop, from tango to Gregorian chant, and from blues to Renaissance polyphony.

Instead of trying to be original, I want to deal with these originals, these traditions, in a personal way.

The historical handicraft of Josquin and Sweelinck, of Monteverdi and Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvorak, Debussy and Bartók provides me with guiding principles to play with the vast palette of Western music. What they share, in retrospect and in spite of their widely different meanings and contexts, is that they give meaning to the ‘musically beautiful’: that music is a human endeavor that is aesthetically meaningful, beautiful, in and of itself.

In this way, I want to create a music for the 21st century that is grafted, in a personal manner, on the long traditions of Western musical thinking and everything that has influenced it. That is why I venture to call it ‘new classical music’.

As in Super Stella (Super Suite, mvt III), where a funky klezmer varies the Gregorian hymn Ave Maris Stella:

Or the Deep River sonata that traces the history of the early Afro-American spiritual:

Sonata Deep River: II – Adagio

Echoing the melody’s lyricism, but also the original rhythm:

Sonata Deep River: III – Scherzo

Beauty in music goes side by side with Christian religiosity:

…with a 21st-century personal perspective:

Utrechts Requiem – Introïtus | Nederlands Kamerkoor en Ensemble Insomnio 2018

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