Program Jörgen van Rijen: ‘Only dead fish drift with the stream’

June 15
13.30 - Grote zaal

Only dead fish drift with the stream

Dániel Bolba – percussion

Martin van Hees  –  electric guitar

Jörgen van Rijen  –  trombone

New Trombone Collective

Alexander Verbeek  –  trombone

Koen Kaptijn  –  trombone

Mark Boonstra  –  bass trombone

Remko de Jager  –  trombone

A concert program around the video art of Miguel Angel Ríos and the music of JacobTV.


Video ‘On the edge’  –  Miguel Angel Rios

Slide – Daniel Kidane

Siracuse Blues  –  Jacob TV

Video ‘Crudo’  – Miguel Angel Rios

Crudo  –  Florian Magnus Maier

ALARM  –  Jacob TV

Video ‘Landlocked’  –  Miguel Angel Rios

Agua  –  Angélica Negròn

Miguel Angel Ríos is an Argentinian artist who primarily lives and works in Mexico and New York. His work is exhibited in major museums worldwide. Ríos creates symbolic narratives about the human experience, focusing on themes of violence and mortality. Power dynamics and social (in)justice are central to his art. I was deeply impressed by one of Ríos’s videos at the National Art Gallery in Washington a few years ago. I found myself sitting on a bench for a while reflecting and processing the video. That inspired me to ask composers to create new music inspired by his videos, forming a concert program where the music allows time and space to reflect on the themes presented.

JacobTV, a Dutch self-proclaimed ‘avant pop’ composer, has gained international acclaim with his Boombox repertoire, which combines live instruments with grooving soundtracks based on speech melody. With around 1,000 performances annually worldwide, JacobTV is one of the most performed European composers today. The motto ‘Only dead fish drift with the stream’ applies to both Miguel Angel Ríos and JacobTV. Neither artist follows the mainstream; instead, they boldly critique and pose questions about socio-political issues through their art, reflecting on contemporary societal problems.

On the Edge – video by Miguel Angel Ríos

This video involves a large number of spinning tops distinguished by color. The random interaction between the spinning tops is choreographed to insinuate the struggle for power in society. White spinning tops are dominant and take the central stage preventing the access of “others” that are subordinate to them by patrolling their territory by spinning back and forth. Meanwhile, the subordinate black spinning tops come from a lower level and attempt to access the higher ground controlled by the white ones. On the Edge stages a dangerous game as a metaphor of the battle for social supremacy.

Slide – Daniel Kidane

Inspired by ‘On the Edge’, this piece will be performed immediately after the video. Daniel Kidane, of Russian-Eritrean descent and based in London, draws inspiration from various contemporary musical styles. His orchestral work ‘Woke’ opened the last night of the 2019 BBC Proms. Kidane states, “Responding to Ríos’s video ‘On the Edge,’ the new work ‘Slide’ echoes the mesmerizing visuals, incorporating spinning tops to explore themes of racism. The captivating simplicity of the visuals is reflected in the music.”

Syracuse Blues – JacobTV

JacobTV: ‘September 2008 I visited Sicily. On the fishing market of Syracuse I recorded a couple of stallholders selling their fish, in a loud and beautiful, melancholic way, singing like sirenes, with huge glissandi. The melody of these sound bytes are the leitmotif for the composition. Fishermen probably have advertised their fish like this for thousands of years. The language is a mixture of Sicilian dialect, mixed with Greek and Arab words. Now that the world’s seas and oceans are poisoned and overfished, the piece is also a lament.’

Crudo – video by Miguel Angel Ríos music by Florian Magnus Maier

‘Crudo’ features a man dancing and twirling ‘boleadoras’ (balls on ropes used in northern Argentina to catch cattle) covered with raw meat, surrounded by hungry dogs. This improvisational dance, with its percussive steps, creates a dangerous situation. The video explores themes of rhythm, hunger, danger, and imbalance of power in the world. The tensions dramatized include life/death, mind/body, human/animal, control/chance, representation/abstraction, story/structure, anecdote/ theory, vernacular/(post)modernism, North/South America, film/video art, and politics/form.

Florian Magnus Maier is not only a composer but also a flamenco guitarist. His virtuosic style and his love for flamenco make him well-suited for the film ‘Crudo’, which features a flamenco dancer as the central figure.

Maier: “Crudo has a tense, quite explosive atmosphere. I took this sound from the film as a musical starting point; it provides a rhythmic layer that I place in a written context. The ensemble becomes an extension of this. It takes over the firm staccatos of the dogs’ barking and the tapping of the dancer’s feet, and portrays them in developed musical material. The struggle between the dancer and the dogs determines the role distribution in the score. The three musicians continuously switch roles between the sharp rhythmic accents and their accompaniment, and in a way, they also play against each other. It is a battle that takes place simultaneously in both layers, film and music.

ALARM (in the age of fools) – JacobTV

JacobTV: ‘ALARM is a dialogue for trombone and emergency sirens from all over the world, with an accompaniment of either string quartet or trombone quartet. The sudden sound of simultaneous alarm sirens is not uncommon in cities, making people wonder what’s going on… It happened to me lately in NYC. To me, this cacophony of alarm sirens is a metaphor for current crises in our world, where so much is at stake right now: freedom, democracy, peace and perhaps most importantly: the future of our planet. While writing the score, I read an alarming article in the Guardian by Damian Carrington. He asked 400 scientists about the future of the planet and what they said shocked him’. Excerpts: Damian asked 400 of the world’s top climate experts about the current situation. Many appeared to have increasingly little faith in the world’s ability to keep global heating to 1.5C. It was not just how high they expect global temperatures to rise, but the deep level of personal anguish they felt as well. The scientists pointed overwhelmingly to one barrier: lack of political will. That mirrored their thoughts on the most effective action people can take – voting for politicians backing climate action. “Scientists are human: we are also people living on this Earth, who are also experiencing the impacts of climate change, who also have children, and who also have worries about the future,” said one. “I expect a semi-dystopian future with substantial pain and suffering for the people of the global south,” said another. “The world’s response to date is reprehensible – we live in an age of fools.”

Landlocked – video by Miguel Angel Ríos

Bolivia has suffered a denial of access to the Pacific Ocean for several centuries. The video ‘Landlocked’ is a metaphor for desire. Dogs from the mountains of the Andes, trained to dig and work, create the illusion of finding a way that leads to the ocean.

Agua – Angélica Negrón Agua is inspired by ‘Landlocked’. Angélica Negrón has previously written for Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kronos Quartet, and Sō Percussion. Negrón, who is from Puerto Rico, composes extensively for film and is inspired by current themes such as borders, colonialism, and freedom. Negrón: ‘I was immediately drawn to this video as it connects to themes of desire, limits, borders, control, access and freedom which I often think about in relation to Puerto Rico’s colonial status and complicated relationship with the US and how this impacts the people that live on the island. The piece is driven by a sense of desire, exploration and wonder. Through interlocking rhythms, flourishing textures and playful patterns, I wanted to explore how deep longing and resilience play into these dogs’ lives from what I imagine their perspective feels and sounds like.’

‘What a beautiful project, I feel very happy and flattered to have caused such a powerful reaction on you to create special music on my videos. Thank you for the initiative and proposal to convince other great musicians to reach the consummation of such a beautiful project.’

Miguel Angel Ríos Courtesy Miguel Angel Rios and AKINCI.

For more info about Miguel Angel Rios, scan QR code.