As a marimbist I had the great pleasure to work very close with composer and guitarist Aart Strootman, also bandmember and founder of TEMKO. In the band we discussed deeply and spend a lot of hours talking about our instruments. For Aart the challenge to learn about the marimba was to compose for it. I asked him for a couple of pieces by now.
Aart was winner of the Gaudeamus Composition Prize 2017, a prestigious award for the most promising composition talent of the year.
Solo for marimba (2014)
It became a three-part classical concerto piece in itself, combining virtuosity with sonorous, slow fragments. The piece is on the TROMP competition list of Dutch pieces written for marimba solo (for every participant’s second round of the competition).
Brave New World – duo for marimba / duo for harp & marimba (2017/2015)
Aart Strootman about his piece: ‘Having named a work after a book by Hemingway, I decided to loosely inspire the new piece for Remy van Kesteren and Ramon Lormans on Aldoux Huxley’s Brave New World. Starting with almost nothing the piece ends with a big virtuosic outburst.’ In 2017 the piece was rewritten in a commission for marimba duo. Ramon has two master students in Codarts who will premier this piece in International Percussion Competition Luxembourg in february 2018.
Shattered Canon – for marimba quartet with wood blocks (2017)
In this work Aart explored in two movements the marimba sounds as a quartet, with polyrhythms how we use them in TEMKO too. A conceptual piece close related to Darkness Rises but also a ‘David Lang’ kind of vibe. See the video of the general rehearsal before the premier here.
The premier was done in Splendor Amsterdam during Percussion Friends Chamber Music Academy on 23rd of August 2017 by Maikel Claessens, Arjan Jongsma, Ramon Lormans & Xi Rachel Zhang.
For many years I had the pleasure to work closely with a great friend and composer; Anthony Fiumara. He was one of the founders of Lunapark where we did many pieces and arrangements for marimba. Anthony’s music is minimal but expressive, and I played a lot of his chamber music, before I commissioned him two pieces.
The clock of the long now – for harp and one percussionist (vibes, glockenspiel, gran cassa) (2015)
Program note on the piece by Anthony: “When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.” — Daniel Hillis
I was reading about the Clock of the Long Now, and I tried to imagine this huge machine chiming in a distant future, for the first time in centuries. Who would be listening to these sounds? What would they hear? And what future would they be dreaming of?
Commisioned by and written for Remy van Kesteren and Ramon Lormans.
An Index of Wood – for marimba solo (2017)
After long talks on marimba and the sound of wood, I played for 2 hours repertoire on marimba for Anthony. Who had all kinds of questions afterwards, very specific, and went off super inspired. Within two days I received 5 movements, almost finished, of a new piece he called ‘an Index of Wood’. He said I could always choose what movements I wanted to perform. The piece is a great one in total too, with a clear subject per movement. One chorale, one rhythmic variation arpeggio movement, one based on the new Milkov technique in the style of Phillip Glass, one chord and arpeggio movement and one David Lang kind of ending. I’m very happy with this piece, and will record it on the marimba solo album soon!
Bosch Requiem – Memorial Park – for TEMKO, Holland Baroque and Netherlands Chamber Choir
World premiere by TEMKO, Holland Baroque and Netherlands Chamber Choir conducted by Mathieu Romano at Theater aan de Parade Den Bosch on 2nd of November 2017.
November Music continues the tradition of the Hieronimus Bosch manifestation by commissioning festival composer Anthony Fiumara to write a new requiem. Three of his favourite ensembles perform Memorial Park. Namely, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Holland Baroque, and TEMKO with Aart Strootman on guitar, Fred Jacobsson on Bass and Ramon Lormans on mallets and drums under the baton of Mathieu Romano. Fiumara’s compositions are characterised by a pure beauty that is timeless. The well-known Dutch author Désanne van Brederode, who tends to subtly weave philosophical and topical affairs into her texts, has written a splendid and poetic libretto. The Belgian actor and master narrator Peter De Graef puts the human soul under the magnifying glass and does so with humour and compassion. Visual artist Marianne van Heeswijk has created a work specifically for this night in which the audience is invited to participate from 8 PM onwards on the square in front of the theatre. Madeleine Matzer and Jur van der Lecq (Matzer Theaterproducties) designed the mise-en-scène.
The piece ‘In Transit’ was written by Joey Roukens for a collaboration between Rubens Quartet and Ramon Lormans. Duration of the piece is ca. 15 min.
First Performance: 17th December 2014, De Vereeniging Nijmegen. Rubens Quartet and Ramon Lormans
Commissioned by Nijmeegse Stichting voor Kamermuziek
Program Note by Joey Roukens
In Transit is a 15-minute piece for string quartet and percussion, in which the music sounds as if it is continually in flux, like a kind of endless search for stability, which is not reached until the last five minutes of the piece. The first ten minutes are highly energetic, vibrant and with a strong rhythmic element, full of syncopations that may evoke the sound of rock and electronic dance music. Because of the music’s persistent forward momentum, the listener feels as if he is in transit on a journey and doesn’t know what his destination will be. Sometimes the music becomes more threatening and dark, other times it sounds more uplifting and groovy. Also, sometimes the music takes a ‘wrong turn’ (such as the short slow intermezzo, after which the energy of before is quickly restored and the old road retaken). After 9 or so minutes the music gets more and more intense and finally explodes into a ferocious, plaintive climax. It is only after the climax has faded away that the piece reaches its destination in its last five minutes, where the restless energy gives way to a slow, expressive chorale-like conclusion.
There is a live recording available of the world premier available: