2010 Composition, Improvisation and Performance workshop by Marc van Vugt (eng)

Marc van Vugt Workshop

photograph Jacopo Mezzanotti

29 january 2009, 10PM: Beneath the lights of the main stage of the new Centrum Muziek XXI in Utrecht the curtain closes on the curious and fascinating work conducted by Marc van Vugt as part of the workshop at the Utrecht Conservatory.
A two hours' concert in which the audience encountered a wide variety of sounds, notes and noises, grouped in a program of twenty original compositions produced by students of the course. In their compositions, the students are referring to the most contrasting and different musical styles of history. Imagination and creativity are the keywords for this incredible work that Marc van Vugt initiated in just two weeks.

Twenty students from the classical and jazz departments of the Conservatory of Utrecht and from the Music Technology department in Hilversum, found themselves working together in the fascinating laboratory of composer and musician Marc van Vugt. The participants, who differed from cultural background, amount of experience and musical tradition, confronted themselves during 12 days, from morning till night without a pause, facing all the challenges that arise when someone tries to do his best without having an adequate preparation time. Each day the students were given the task of creating a new band (duo or trio) with which they had to work for the rest of the day, and with which they had to prepare a new song that they had to present the day after. Each performance was then followed by a critical evaluation by their fellow musicians and the teacher. Then, at the end of the day, everything started all over again when the musicians agreed to form new groups for next day's performance.

"It has been a constant challenge, twenty-four hours a day, waking up early to work on the new track, rehearsing at 9.00 AM and going to a lesson at 10.00 AM. Often skipping lunch without even noticing it. In a situation like this there is no free time, no separation between working or personal time. Every spare moment becomes important in trying to create or refine the piece that you are working on. Because you want people be surprised, and perhaps to try to surprise yourself as well. "

During the lessons, students were facing problems regarding improvisation and composition, analyzing the materials taken directly from the individual student. In this way it has been possible to keep a close focus on the real problems that every musician has to confront everyday.

An interesting experience was the "Improviser Orchestra" conducted by the teacher himself; This piece was performed in front of the audience as the closing piece of the concert. During the project the famous John Zorn composition 'Cobra' was also used. This piece involves the use of visual symbols with which the musicians can interact with the conductor.

In the end it turned into a workshop made by the students themselves, supported and encouraged by the brilliant and creative mediatic figure of Maestro van Vugt.
Appreciations finally for the support of the conservatory in providing everything necessary to ensure that the project could be developed successfully, and for the Centrum Muziek XXI that welcomed the musicians and the audience with great professionalism in the new beautiful building.

Jacopo Mezzanotti

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