The most highly anticipated concert of this year so far, by me personally, was without a shadow of a doubt the cooperation of three creative forces in alternative pop/rock and contemporary classical music: Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens. Together with the Navarra String Quartet and the New Trombone Collective they performed three compositions at the Muziekgebouw in Eindhoven. This all accounted for a breathtaking evening which, for me, even exceeded the high anticipations!
First up was Bryce Dessner, who made his return to Eindhoven after last year’s amazing Cross-Linx festival (which he had curated with his brother Aaron and has since called one of the best festivals in the world, and I can only agree). Together with the Navarra String Quartet he performed his composition ‘Quintets’. Whilst the combination of an electric guitar with a cello and three violins might seem unusual, it certainly worked and you could hear a pin drop during the performance, that’s how captivated everybody in the sold out venue was.
The Navarra String Quartet had a busy night as they were on stage for all three compositions.
Nico Muhly made it especially to the stage to applaud them up close after a wonderful performance by them of his composition ‘Diacritical Marks’. Such a cool gesture!
It was a pleasure anyway to see how dedicated Nico Muhly (but basically everybody involved in the project) was on the night. I spent most of my time photographing from behind the mixing desk and Nico was also there, supporting the sound engineer, making sure the sound was absolutely perfect.
After the break is was time for everybody to return to the stage (and for the New Trombone Collective to finally make their appearance) for the official world premiere of ‘Planetarium’, a joined composition / song cycle by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens. And what can I say but ‘wow!’… It wasn’t just a pleasure for the ears, but also for the eyes, as impressions of planets and space were projected onto the big black ball which had already been hanging above the stage the entire night. Well… Erm… Yes, wow!
It will come as no surprise that ‘Planetarium’ is based upon our solar system, but I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the setlist, to show you just that, with the performance going on in the distance… The diversity of the songs was great too, ranging from very melodic, to ‘strange’ (they even called ‘Mars’ a crazy song themselves during the introduction on stage, as Mars was a crazy planet anyway, so it just had to be a crazy song). The Nature of the songs was reflected beautifully in the amazing visuals projected onto the ‘planet’ above the stage…
Standing ovations after the final song ‘Mercury’ and lots of happy faces on stage too… Happy of course about the success of the performance and the reactions of the audience. But Bryce Dessner made sure to express his gratitude and joy that they were given the opportunity to perform this wonderful project in Eindhoven and the Netherlands…. Well, what can I say, except: come back soon for more amazing music!
Full photo gallery (with of course also lots of photos from the ball) after the break…
Enjoy the photos!