Veldhuis, Jacob ter
Born in 1951, Jacob ter Veldhuis has become one of Holland's most frequently commissioned and performed composers, and he has done so by going his own way, bucking the prevailing European style. Ter Veldhuis was awarded the composition prize at the Conservatory of Music in Groningen, where his training included flute, French horn, and electronic music. All the while, he continued playing in various rock and roll bands. Having grown up amid this plurality of musical styles, he is equally comfortable referencing "high" and "low" culture in his works, and he finds provocative ways to do so.
Fed up with the "doom and damnation" that he perceived in so much contemporary art, ter Veldhuis had an epiphany in the 1990s. He wrote: "From Euripides onward, conflict has been seen as a precondition for a work of art. . . Art became progressively more conceptual and harder to swallow. Artists sometimes behaved like preachers, shouting hell and damnation from the pulpit. Art is supposedly able to transform suffering into beauty. But what is beauty? The lust for dissonance in contemporary music is hardly what I would call 'aesthetically pleasing'; dissonance has, in my opinion, been totally devalued as a manner of expression."
Ter Veldhuis's works are concerned with the quest for beauty, often described in visual terms. The music of the Rainbow Concerto for cello and orchestra is, in the words of musicologist Michael Arntz, like "an intangible bridge between heaven and earth." The composer himself describes the Tallahatchie Concerto as a journey down a river of rocks (the Native American meaning of "Tallahatchie"); and the Goldrush Concerto incorporates the world of film into its depiction of the all-consuming search for gold.
The largest embodiment of this tonal and visual aesthetic is Paradiso (2001), a 13-movement, multimedia video oratorio based on sections from the third book of Dante's "Divine Comedy," boldly juxtaposed to imagery from modern life. The score calls for soprano and tenor soloists, female chorus, full orchestra and electronic sampler, all performed in tandem with a striking video by the innovative video graphics team Pulsatu. After much soul searching, Paradiso had its premiere, as scheduled, on September 12, 2001 with its two American solo vocalists. "An essential aspect of Paradiso was mankind's inability to reach paradise. Under these new circumstances, it could perhaps offer some solace in these dark and confusing days."
The overwhelming response to Paradiso echoed the sell-out crowds at a four-day Jacob ter Veldhuis Festival held earlier that year in Rotterdam. Highlights of the festival included the dynamic Goldrush Concerto and the String Quartet No. 3, "There must be some way out of here," from which the string orchestra work of the same name is arranged.
Works for Percussion
Animal Mass - Gamelan (12 players); Voice (4)
Cannibal Mess - Gamelan (8)
Goldrush Concerto - Percussion Duo; Orchestra
Insonnia - Multiple Percussion; Voice; Accordion; Bass Clarinet
Jungle Heart - Percussion Duo; Flute
Postnuclear Winterscenario No. 8 - Percussion Ensemble (6 - 8); Piano
Symphony No. 1 - Percussion Quintet; Orchestra
The Laws of Science II - Percussion Duo (Timpani); Orchestra
Triangolo (Veldhuis) - Percussion Trio