Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a pioneer of the string music genre, breaking all boundaries. Through our encounters with other genres (pop, jazz, urban), artistic disciplines (theatre, film, dance, opera) and cultures, we not only renew and expand the repertoire, but also the genre as a performing art in itself. In its annual Beyond Classics production, Amsterdam Sinfonietta teams up with non-classical artists in a collaboration that challenges orchestra and artist alike to step out of their comfort zones. Each year, this results in a riveting cross-pollination between totally contrasting musical worlds.
Crossover, cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural
Sunken Garden in Holland Festival (2013)
At the 2013 Holland Festival, Amsterdam Sinfonietta performed the Dutch première of Michel van der Aa’s Sunken Garden to a libretto by David Mitchel. Sunken Garden was a monumental project of the English National Opera, in collaboration with international partners. The multimedia opera with 3D film features a storyline shifting between skilful deception and dark truths, illusion and reality. It explores the primal urge to cheat mortality, whatever the cost. All six performances in Amsterdam were sold out long before the première. “This is the Gesamtkunst of the future”, wrote The Financial Times.
“Van der Aa pushes the boundaries of all of his media. This is the Gesamtkunst of the future.”
Beyond Classical with Wende
Beyond Classical is a successful formula in which we combine classical music with other genres such as pop, indie, rap or jazz. In 2016 Amsterdam Sinfonietta joined forces with the singer and stage performer Wende, touring the Netherlands with an intimate show about love, modelled on Wende’s own love life. Covers of Stromae, David Bowie, Nina Simone, Aznavour and Jacques Brel alternated with music by Lekeu, Rameau, Purcell, Bryce Dessner and Wende. Six months later the show sold out within a couple of days in Amsterdam’s Paradiso. Popular demand led to the production’s revival in the Carré theatre in 2021.
Kreutzer vs Kreutzer with Orkater
The music theatre production Kreutzer vs Kreutzer has a scenario by the British stage actor Laura Wade. It follows the storyline of Tolstoy’s novella Kreutzer Sonata and interweaves it with the eponymous violin sonatas by Beethoven and Janacek. In this crime of passion, the jealous protagonist encourages his pianist wife to make music with a charming male violinist, as a test of her fidelity. The performance was directed by Leopold Witte, with the German violinist Antje Weithaas leading the orchestra.
Road to Iran
The programme Road to Iran features the soloists Kayhan Kalhor and Kian Soltani. It is an encounter with the Iranian composers Layegh and Vali, who write music for Western orchestras, and with the Western composers Jacobsen and Frerichs and their homages to Iranian music. A place of honour goes to the Middle Eastern string instrument the kamancheh and its most celebrated player Kahyan Kalhor.
In January 2021 Amsterdam Sinfonietta released the video clip Misirlou, the first in a series of videos exploring new means of presenting classical and other music for string orchestra in a visually striking way. Misirlou is a centuries-old traditional song which became popular in Dick Dale’s rock version, thanks to the film Pulp Fiction. The city of Amsterdam features prominently in the Misirlou video. The makers Rietveld & Corbijn combined film images of the performing musicians with archive
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