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.
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”.
The first performance of these works on the Sunday afternoon drew a large crowd.
The museum tower lends itself extremely well for a joint concert involving various choirs. The Van Abbe museum choir invites another choir from the region, as well as one or two Syrian musicians, to join them in a concert in connection with the exhibition Van wie is de straat? (Who owns the street?) On every floor one can hear a different repertoire and get a different view on the street.
The choir participated in several performances by artist Cindy Moorman. These performances took place in “Gebouw WG” in Amsterdam (2016) and in “Galerie Garage” in Rotterdam (2017) and more recently near Kraggenburg, NOP, on September 24th, 2017.
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.
Special guests symposium
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.
Once every two months, on a Sunday, the choir performs alongside with the Cicerone (guide). The latter provides an explanation of the art work and the choir translates this into music with a matching song. Image, music and text coincide.
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.
Exhibition De Stijl
In the exhibition Van Abbe en De Stijl, 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 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 choir and several Syrian musicians. The museum received an honourable mention.
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.
For refugees currently living in the various centres in the region, the Van Abbe Choir gave a heartwarming and emotional concert, with the guests joining in with the songs in their languages.