ULYSSES Audience Research Blog #6 – Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL)
09/2017 Gaudeamus – NL
Utrecht’s legendary Gaudeamus Muziekweek ran this year from 6th-10th September, presenting an eclectic mix of concerts, installations and talks. I conducted a Ulysses survey at this concert at the stunning Geertekerk, which presented an audiovisual work by Chaz Underriner. The audience were comprised of an interesting mix of contemporary music professionals and curious non-musicians, most of whom had previously attended Gaudeamus events. Underriner’s immersive piece provoked mixed reactions that I look forward to exploring further; for some it was ‘hypnotising’, making for a ‘special evening’, for others, ‘a bit long but with interesting moments’.
Highlights: Gaudeamus Muziekweek
- – At the top of my list of Gaudeamus 2017 experiences definitely comes Luke Deane’s chamber opera ‘We Cannot Sleep’. It traces the relationship between a woman (‘Sunny’) and a young girl (‘Mona’) about whom she dreams, telling this tale in part through the use of virtual reality scenes. We were each provided with a pair of VR goggles with the instruction to put them on every time the protagonist left the stage. This could have turned into a distracting gimmick, but instead the VR scenes took us to dreamy, Daliesque landscapes, seamless counterparts to the already sensual, futuristic set. Deane’s score for string quartet, percussion (marimba/glockenspiel) and electronics was lush and bright, with a number of lyrical centrepieces. The libretto could have been more convincing but overall, this was a well-conceived piece, a memorable operatic adventure into the hyperreal.
- – A focal point of the festival was the Gaudeamus Saturday Night on the penultimate evening, a marathon-style event with overlapping concerts at Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg venue. The slot by Berlin-Amsterdam collective Stargaze was particularly engaging, with its deft performance of Bryce Dessner’s Aheym alongside works by Ivan Vukosavljevic and Aart Strootman (announced as Gaudeamus 2017 prizewinner on the following night). The latter’s Nyctophilia veered intriguingly between queasy microtonalism and intimidating heavy metal swagger. Out in the foyer area, VanDryver delivered a colourful set of orchestral pop songs and later, Gaudeamus ensemble-in-residence, Kluster5, dazzled with tight performances of rhythmic minimal music and jazzy own compositions. An enjoyable evening demonstrating the value of displaying different branches of contemporary music production side by side.-