Concert series Mystic and Minimal: musical musings on existence (2)

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'Picking a favourite in this repertoire is like picking your favourite child,'  Ryan Bancroft laughs. The American conductor leads the CvA Symphony Orchestra during the Mystical and Minimal concert series. 'We are so lucky to be able to work on these rarely performed pieces. Each piece is so unique, while there is a common thread both in content and musically that makes it a whole.' 

During the last weekend of March, music that explores the mystical aspects of being human, will be performed: 'Adams explores the afterlife,' and his minimal composition techniques demand excellence: 'This piece requires a different preparation, you have to think more deeply about colour, rhythm, and endurance.' Even though the theme is Minimal, the orchestra set-up is anything but: 'We are on stage with a spectacular 93-piece orchestra. Bringing for example Adams' Harmonielehre with such capacity, is mindblowing. The first bars alone are so aggressive and fun, and shocking and profound,' Ryan explains.  

Adams' Harmonielehre refers to another composer on the programme: the climax in the second movement of the piece echoes the dissonant 'cry' in Mahler's Tenth Symphony. This unfinished symphony was his last work, and is the creative result of heartbreak for his estranged wife. Further mystical elements can be found in Ives' The Unanswered question, where a trumpet repeats 'the eternal question of existence' against a haunting backdrop of strings, only to have a silence as final answer. 'This music touches you in a different way than you are used to,' Ryan says.  

Composition students Béla Braack and Jasmine Karimova built on this theme of existence, focusing on the aspect of growth: 'Real growth can also hurt,' Jasmine explains, 'But growth is a need, a drive, so not positive, not negative.' Both wrote a part of the symphonic poem Growth each, addressing the two sides of growth, below the ground and above the surface. 'But they both come from a common idea: on the blossoming of a seed, and the power that is needed for this from the flower,' Bela says. 'You can hear this in the piece from the dynamic build-up, which gets stronger and stronger, and the continuous bass line that is the foundation of both pieces.' 

About the project 
Mystic and Minimal is a project by the CvA Symphony Orchestra. This year, the orchestra performs under the baton of American conductor Ryan Bancroft. The orchestra will perform The Unanswered Question by Ives; the Adagio from Symphony No 10 by Mahler; Harmonielehre by Adams; and the world premiere of Growth, a symphonic poem, by CvA students Béla Braack and Jasmine Karimova. Find more information at

vr 31 maart - 20.15 uur Muziekgebouw Eindhoven
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za 1 april - 16.00 uur Stadsgehoorzaal Leiden
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zo 2 april - 15.00 uur Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
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