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music

Almost too large a label to be useful, covering anything from Hildegarde of Bingen to Hector Berlioz. A combination of sound and purpose, noise and logic, it has to involve making thought audible no ideas, no music.
M/007

So where do I fit in with all this? not, alas, as a creator, but I do play quite a lot and I do try to listen thoughtfully. As far as performing goes, I'm first and foremost a recorder player, and prefer ensemble playing to solo. The highspot of my musical year is the recorder weekend in Mechelen at the end of August, where over a hundred players from Belgium, the Netherlands and other European countries – even the UK, my old friend Ann Betterton having decided minutes into her first Blokfluit Alom that this was a Good Thing and deserved to become part of her regular musical year – get together for a couple of days' intensive music-making: ensemble sessions, concerts, and the first performance of the year's commission for massed recorders.

We start by enrolling in groups, broadly divided by ability. Each group then hastens off to the designated class-room for the first session; seven or eight professionals tell us what they've brought for the session, and you make your choice. Might be Renaissance in original notation, might be modern recorder music from Japan, might be Tudor or Jacobean consort music … might even be one of my transcriptions, fin-de-siècle Belgian harmonium music deserving a wider audience and challenging recorder players with unfamiliar enharmonics and double accidentals. Grab a drink at the end of the session, back to the classroom and choose a leader for the next session. Exhausting? yes, but so satisfying.

I am also a self-taught keyboard player, competent within my limits and pleased to have been adopted as one of the two organists at the Troostbasiliek and as a member of the organists' rota at the Tuchthuis. Also, a late starter on the musette de cour. Again, solo playing doesn't appeal to me: apart from a mild longing for a harmonium, as I have so much fascinating music for this instrument I have never heard and am not likely to hear unless I struggle through it myself, music is something to share. So I play for mass, sometimes accompanying Pro Occasio in a seasonal mass-setting, or for Protestant services, and I play elegant duets with Chris and with Bart my musette tutor: eighteenth-century elegance from Boismortier, Corrette, Bâton and the like. Played as modern editions suggest on two recorders, this music can be no more than insipid: add the drone the composers had in mind and the harmonies suddenly become a lot more interesting.


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