‘it shimmers in the air’ at the Muziekgebouw


'it shimmer in the air' by David Collier at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
Last Saturday was the first performance of a piece I’d written since arriving in Amsterdam… and it happened in the Muziekgebouw! The piece called it shimmers in the air and was written for the Conservatorium van Amsterdam‘s newest ensemble Score Collective. It’s only the ensemble’s second performance and it’s an honour to have been asked to write for them.

As a first concert I couldn’t have wished for much more, the whole night was a really welcoming experience and I was pleasantly surprised by people coming up to me after the concert to offer their congratulations and thoughts about the music. I got to be on a programme that featured Gyorgy Ligeti, Toru Takemistu and Ton de Leeuw in an amazing venue, a real fortress for music which is being written in our life time. As well as that it was a total joy to work with the ensemble and their commitment and professionalism was exemplary. Ed Spanjaard, the conductor, was also very supportive and I felt like he really got what I was trying to achieve with the music and he really helped me to make the most of it.

This piece also feels like a new departure for me. It’s not very different in feel from my older pieces, but I feel much more confident about the material and how I’ve used it. It’s been great working with Richard Ayres over the last few months and he’s really pushed me to listen to the music and follow where it wants to go. Willem Jeths my other teacher has been helping me to see the nitty gritty of work from a sound and performer point of view. To really think about the details of my ideas and to communicate that as clearly as possible using the score.

I wasn’t the only person making a big showing on the night, soprano Heather Hudyma took centre stage for the performance of de Leeuw’s Three Shakespeare Songs. It was nice to able to share that big performance feeling with another person. Unlike Heather my showbiz chops aren’t really up to scratch. I was informed afterwards that you shouldn’t look up while bowing as you, apparently, look like a penguin. And while I was up on stage to take a bow I didn’t notice a lady coming from side stage to give me a bouquet and promptly walked off the other side. I went back to apologies to her after the show but she had already left, presumably in tears. I suppose that makes me some kind of rude penguin…  ah well, we live and learn. Still a tremendous night all round.

This coming Saturday Julia Nielsen is performing In your own time for cello and tape at 1pm in the Haitinkzaal at Conservatorium van Amsterdam.