Still humming tunes from “Die Zauberflöte” I arrived at RASA. RASA aims to be a stage for world music, Anglo-American pop music, dance courses, western classical music and has been a venue used for fringe concerts during the Utrecht Early Music Festival for years.
Yet, all this did not prevent the Advisory Board of the Dutch system for cultural grants and benefits to advise negatively regarding RASA’s proposed budgetary and business plans for 2017 – 2020. This means RASA will be forced to close.
RASA will not give up without a fight though. A petition has started to keep RASA open as a musical and theatre venue. You can sign their petition by scrolling down and use the link.
The cultural scene in the Netherlands has already been dealt serious blows by similar and worse budget cuts for the past five years and more. This forced many museums and theatres to close, orchestras to merge or disappear altogether, schools offering musical courses and training and many similar cultural organisations to shut. Salaries of ministers, secretaries of state, CEOs, bankers and the likes have of course never been affected in similar ways. Signing the petition to keep RASA open, will not cost you anything: so why not try to help?
As for the Scherzi Musici and acrobat Camille Paycha: quite a few parents had taken their brood along to this fringe concert. It must have been the presence of an acrobat. Of course, during the middle ages it was not uncommon that musicians, magicians, acrobats entertained the wealthy.
It is also nice, that an audience does not only consist of grey-haired fans. The critters seated with their family in the row behind my row, started to have doubts about it all, well before the concert started. One moaned she would gladly give up her seat for people still queueing outside and waiting for a seat in vain. (This concert was totally, completely sold out.) The other one loudly declared a visit to a museum, or even going shopping with mum was much preferred to having to sit through an acrobat show. They soon graduated to banging against chairs and tearing up program and voting papers. In the end, they managed to sit out the roughly three-quarters of an hour wriggling but keeping their mouths shut.
The concert focussed on Petrarca as medieval poet with music by contemporaries. Which boiled down to a concert of anonymous works and songs by known composers, interspersed by recitals from works by Petrarca – in Dutch translation. Great if the audience is 100% Dutch, but not handy at an internationally renowned festival.
For those who understood Dutch and were not familiar with Petrarca’s works, the recitals were a revelation. He climbed the Mont Ventoux, now of Tour de France fame? He wrote a letter telling his friend Laura was a real woman? He wrote a letter to Charles IV, urging him to invade Italy? As several in the audience remarked, while filing out of RASA after the concert: what an odd fellow and did he really write all that?
I belonged to the throng of folks fascinated by the so-called organetto, played by Ilil Danin during this concert. It was a replica made by Winold van der Putten in 1993, after a painting by Fra Angelico. One of the fascinating things about all these Early Music concerts are the instruments, with which we are no longer familiar.
The Scherzi Musici started with “Reis glorios” by Giraut de Bornelh, Petrarca, three anonymous medieval songs etc. Now and again, acrobat Camille Paycha would perform during songs. Overall: I much preferred Rumorum’s medieval concert focussing on Chaucer during the Early Music Festival 2015. This has partly to do with me being a fan of Old and Middle English. Rumorum also came across as far, far more professional than the Scherzi Musici. This concert with French and italian medieval music and songs was fine, but aimed too much at Dutch locals and not exactly impressive.
Esther Kronenburg and Johanna Földesi sopranos
Ján Janovcik and Joep van Buchem tenor
Karel Barten bariton
Galit Zadok recorder
Ilil Danin organetto
Camille Paycha acrobatics
All singers also performed on various instruments, like any medieval troubadours
Girault de Bornelh: Reis glorios
Francesco Petrarca: Mount Ventoux, from Epistolae familiars IV
Anonymous: Quant voi lérbe reverdir et le tans, Salve virgo virginum dei, Cumque, from the Montpellier Codex
Petrarca: Letter to Ciacomo Coronna concerning Laura, from Epistolae familiars II
Francesco Landini: Angelica biltá
Anonymous: Lucente stele, from the Codex Rossi
Petrarca: Che fai alma, che pensi? From Canzoniere CL
Landini : Che fai, che pensi, che cercando vai ; Gram plant’agli occhi ; Per seguir la speranza
Guillaume du Fay : Vergene bella, che di sol vestina
Petrarca : To Charles IV, from Ep[istolae familiares X
Philippus Royllaert: RexKarole Johannis genite, Latitie pacis, concordie