April 21, 2013, was the last day of a great festival on one of the most beautiful spots of Rotterdam, the Wilhelminapier.

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The festival – biannually organized and lasting three days – is called Red Ear. Festival with Daring Music .

Red Ear Festival Poster

It has a beautiful and challenging mix of jazz, modern classical music, sound art, improvised music, multi media installations, avant-garde music, electronic music, etc.

Here is a short impression of the last day of the festival, far from complete as there were over 16 performances scheduled, next to several sound installations and multi-media events.

12.00-13.00: Cloud of Identity Michel Banabila (sounds) and Geert Mul (images)
One of the most perfect combinations of visual and audio materials I have ever visited. The three big videoscreens and the impressive soundscapes gave comfortable as well as uncanny experiences of immersion. Cloud of Identity is based on the use of vowels and consonants in various linguistic systems.

13:00-14:00 Piano Concert in the Dark Untitled #275 Reinier van Houdt (piano) and Francisco Lopez (composition)
Listen to the repetitive, percussive, hammering sounds of the lowest parts of the piano. Prepared sounds, like in a Cage composition. Later on the mood changes and Van Houdt starts playing slow and soft chord progressions which reminded me of Morton Feldman.

In the second part of the piece, electronics take over and the piano remains silent. Are we listening to the same hammering sounds of the piano with which Lopez’composition opened? It seems like he has recorded and processed them, a bit like Alvin Lucier’s Nothing is Real, although without a teapot. As usual with Lopez’ pieces, it has to be experienced in the dark.

14:30-15:30 Bodurov Trio & Theodosii Spassov
Combining jazz with Balkan sounds and rhythms is not something new: Dusko Gojkovic, Bojan Zulfikarpasic, Ivo Papasov, and Slobodan Trkulja are but a few examples of succesfull musicians who have preceded the Bulgarian pianist Dimitar Bodurov, bass player Mihail Ivanov and drummer Jens Düppe. Nevertheless, the technical capacities of the musicians, the many tempo and mood changes in each tune, and the use of sound recordings, add something extra to this music in which East and West meet. Here the trio is complemented with kaval player Theodosii Spassov.

15:30-16:30 Stian Westerhus Solo
Electric guitar, computer, amplifiers, and an impressive amount of effect equipment – that’s the instrument with which Westerhus is interacting. The results consist of layers of sound, sometimes dreamy and tonal, at other moments rough, raw, and noisy.

16:30-18:00 The David Kweksilber Big Band
This is a piece by Ned McGowan, especially composed for this Big Band, for this Festival, and for the biggest building on the Wilhelminapier, Rem Koolhaas’ The Rotterdam.

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The piece is loosely based on Ligeti’s Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes. Here, each big band member has its own meter. Perhaps this corresponds with the (a)synchronisity of the building itself.

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