museum choir archive
3 x 3
On September 21st 2019 we presented three new compositions to add to the collection of five pieces composed especially for the Van Abbe Choir and which we performed in 2018.
Three artist were invited to write a composition: Yael Davids, Patricia Kaersenhout and Jacques van Erven.
Davids followed the teachings of Moshé Feldenkrais and created a performance with the consciousness of movement as its Leitmotif (in our case the dropping of the jaw when singing). Patricia Kaersenhout , in whose work racism plays an important role, grounded her text in a fantasy she had in her childhood to arm herself against this. Jacques van Erven set four lines of a poem by William Blake to music to create a melody for four voices.
Van Abbe on tour
From November 4th 2018 to May 12th 2019, the Van Abbemuseum goes on tour to 7 different locations of Vitalis living facilities for seniors. A total of 15 masterpieces from the museum collection of which exact replicas have been made (including work by Picasso, Mondrian, Van Doesburg, Warhol, Kandinsky, and Lissitzky) make up a travelling exhibit. The Van Abbe Museum Choir contributes to each festive finissage with a performance of songs to accompany the traveling exhibits.
5 x 5 x 5
On Sunday 25 March 2018, the Van Abbe Museum Choir celebrated its five year anniversary. Five artists were commissioned to write a composition especially for the choir. This has resulted in five diverse works.
The first performance of these works on the Sunday afternoon drew a large crowd.
Hans de Wit set the poem “Poem” by Paul van Ostaijen to music. Iris Kensmil together with composer Rocco Brunori, combined a number of well known and lesser known melodies and texts from the black art movement to a single creation of five voices and body percussion, “Darker than Blue”. Cindy Moorman wrote a composition, “Constructions” in which the separate tones the 21 choir members had chosen were sounded out cumulatively for the repeated duration of sixteen seconds, creating an exciting and surprising whole. Laure Prouvost created a swinging composition, “E U OK”, inspired by Brexit. Russian artist Gluklya wrote an avant garde performance entiteld “Manifesto for the utopian union of the unemployed people”.
Sing-in with Willem
The year 2018 marks the fifth anniversary of our choir. We started this special year on the right note with a sing-in, together with visitors, invitees and choir members. Popular songs, accompanied by Willem van der Heijden on accordion were followed by a toast to the new year.
PERFORMANCE EINDHOVEN TOWN HALL
On 18 December 2017, at the request of the municipality of Eindhoven, we sang songs during the festive gathering of 500 permit holders who had just signed their declaration of participation. We sang in Arabic, Afghan, Iranian and Brabants.
The choir participated in several performances by artist Cindy Moorman. These performances took place in Gebouw WG in Amsterdam (2016) and in Galerie Garag” in Rotterdam (2017) and near Kraggenbur, in the Noordoostpolder on September 24th 2017. We were proud to have a very special guest at our performance in Museum Voorlinden, December 2018.
Van Abbe and De Stijl
In the exhibition Van Abbe en De Stijl, Theo Van Doesburg is the key figure. De Stijl artists moved between art, architecture, design and literature. This explains why the Van Abbe museum choir contributes to the exhibition with performances of sound poems by Theo Van Doesburg and other poets of the movement.
On February 2nd 2017 the Code Cultural Diversity award 2017 was presented in De Melkweg in Amsterdam. The jury had put Van Abbe museum on a shortlist of five nominees. The presentation with images of several of the museum’s projects, such as the tours for guests with vision and hearing impairments, was supported by the Van Abbe museum choir, performing together with the Dutch Sign Language cChoir and several Syrian musicians. The museum received an honourable mention.
The mural Echo Chamber (2017), by Navine Kahn Dossos is a ‘portrait’ of the ‘white widow’, a British woman who converted to Islam and became a terrorist. The colours and shapes of the Arabic motifs show a transition from soft to hard and from feminine to masculine. For example, grey and pink change to menacing and aggressive black and red. The van Abbe museum choir chose this site to sing one of the British Muslim Songs, variations on old English songs, which are sung in schools.
The choir performed John Cage’s 1952 composition 4”33 during the musical tour. Cage called it Silent Piece and demonstrates that absolute silence does not exist. The performance took place on Twenty-fifth Steel Cardinal, a minimalist work by Carl André from 1974. The composer’s and the artist’s work coincide fully.
Inspired by the museum collection, blind and vison-impaired artists exhibited their work from November 11th to December 4th, 2016. The van Abbe museum choir sang during the opening of this exhibition. It underlined the possibility to experience art in a non-visual mode.
Special Guests Symposion
On December 12th 2016 the museum organized a symposium on the question of how to make the museum accessible for everyone, particularly guests with vison or hearing impairments, Alzheimer, and Aphasia. This was one more opportunity for the Van Abbe choir to demonstrate that music is a special language that can reinforce visual art.
Shafiq, one of our guards and project leader of the Afghan Art Awards, asked us to sing a few Afghan anthems to mark the opening of the Afghanistan exhibition. Willy de Rooij wrote sheet music for songs in two languages – Pashtun and Dari. The enthusiasm with which the Afghan guests joined in was heartwarming.
Ta lendab mesipuu poole
Ta lendab mesipuu poole is a famous Estonian song about the flight of bees and their return to the hive, a parable of freedom and fatherland. This song was sung during the Singing Revolution, when a human chain was formed on August 23rd 1989 between the capitals of the Baltic States. The chain, made by two million people, measured 600 kilometres. We thought this would be a fitting song for Charles Esche’s policy of combining social engagement with an orientation on Eastern European developments in art.
According to Roland Schimmel, his three-dimensional installation The Innocent Body was inspired by the apse – the chancel in a church. His ethereal painting of afterimages combined with the remarkable acoustics inspired us in turn to sing an old round from the monastery of Monserrat, creating an almost spiritual experience in this symbiosis of image and sound.
The Van Abbemuseumchoir
The framed song A Life of an Ocean Wave by Bas Jan Ader was part of the mini-exhibition of Ahmet Ögüt’s work which included his Guppie 13 floating on the river Dommel. Just having stopped her involvement as the director of a women’s shanty choir, Willy de Rooij was inspired by this song to start a Museum choir made up of volunteers. Its aim is to sing about the art in the museum. This was the choir's very first project.