It was an astonishing performance. An hour of texts and music which influenced Bob Dylan, as well as his own lyrics and versions. The words, meanings, messages mainly written during the 1950s and 1960s were eye-openers. Last chance to attend: 28th of March 2017 – in Amsterdam.
Before I went, I presumed both the music and poetry might be totally not my thing. I worried if this would also be true for the friends I’d invited along. Of course, as usual, this Salon Branoul literary event was another pleasant revelation.
And let’s face it: if you’re not open to challenges and adventures, you might forever be waiting for revelations and other wonderful things to happen in your life. It is unlikely though, you might turn into the “I” of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I am Waiting”. It was one of the Beat Generation poems, recited during this event.
Members of the New European Ensemble had selected music which belonged to the same era. Emlyn Stam and Wim Vos played compositions by Tigran Mansurian and Michael Colgrass (Variations for Viola and Drums). Tigran Mansurian’s Tagh 3 slightly reminded me of Indonesian Gamelan music. So though Michael Colgrass’ variations surprised me, Tigran Mansurian excerpt pleased better.
After the performance, my friends and I wondered what kind of musical score had been used. For one doesn’t have to be musical or a musician, to understand that playing this kind of music is taxing and demanding. It certainly illustrated the professionalism, high standards, talents, skills and experience that NEUE members always bring to their musical performances.
As for the Beat poems: studying the poets and their poetry is totally different from attending a recital. They had not left any impression upon me, while studying English and American literature. But then: there had been nobody like Kyle Timon Dukes, reading out this poetry during lectures.
Or rather: perform and live this poetry. It was impressive to watch him not just recite but interpret the emotions captured in each poem: wrath, disgust, anger, pain, love and many more. It must have taken him a while, to get rid of all the energy generated during his acting and reciting. A day later, friends still talked about his fabulous, mesmerizing performance.
Of course, Allen Ginsberg was represented by an excerpt of “Howl”, as well as by “In Back of the Real”, “Sunflower Sutra” and “Song”. Jack Kerouac’s “American Haikus” made the audience snigger, laugh, or remain silently moved. As mentioned above, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I am Waiting” was recited, as well as Kenneth Rexroth’s “Gic to Har”.
Of these poems, it was especially the reciting and performing of “I am Waiting” which impressed and touched me most. Though “Howl” and “Song” and all the other poems made a far deeper impact than they ever did, being read from the printed page.
It’s really a shame, that these poets and the contemporary music seem not to attract more admirers. This evening definitely did not attract the crowds which previous ones had. Yet the poetry is not that difficult. Its images, ideas and emotions, can be seen as a link between and criticism of an earlier romantic poetry and our present-day reality and awareness of pollution and materialism.
As usual, at the end of the performance, there was a very warm applause – followed by much laughter. For the audience was kindly reminded that they had entered for free, but were not expected to leave without donating money for the performance. Which caused one of my friends to remark, she didn’t mind being taken hostage, as long as the recital of poetry continued. Like me and others, she’s hooked on these “Pay what you Want” events and one of many, brave enough to get out of their comfort zone.
The people behind Theatre Branoul and the New European Ensemble are already planning the Salon Branoul Season 2015-2016, though this season’s last evening has yet to take place. Free tickets are still available for this last 2014-2015 last performance, which takes place Tuesday 16th of June. However: this will be a recital in German.
Salon Branoul starts its 2015-2016 season in September 2015. You won’t have to wait that long for good music: as usual, the NEUE will give free garden concerts during the summer months.