The association between Michael Torke and Orkest de Volharding is a long one and goes back to their 1989 recording of Rust and its performance at the Huddersfield Festival. I am pleased to announce that this association continues in 1997 with the commissioning, recording and subsequent World Premiere performance of Overnight Mail in Amsterdam in September 1997.
In the spring of 1972 the composer Louis Andriessen assembled a group of musicians from widely differing backgrounds to work together on a new work called "De Volharding" (which translates as "perserverance"). Some came from the classical tradition and others from the worlds of jazz and improvisation. Everything came together at the first performance on May 12th 1972, during a memorable and noisy " Inklusief Concert" in Amsterdam. The official founding of the Orkest De Volharding followed in the autumn of that year. The 13-member ensemble has since played a central role in the unique development of music making in The Netherlands.
In the 1970's the inflexibilities of traditional music - making began to be challenged, and during their first decade Orkest de Volharding became, in a broad sense, the orchestra of Dutch Protest. They combined the Protest Music of the time with contemporary composed music. Their main emphasis lay on the ideological side of making music, and their principal aim was to bring uncomplicated and topical music to a public which did not often go to concerts, and to places where such music was rarely heard.
This stubborn opposition to established musical practice bore fruit in the 1980's, when more opportunities for alternative music - making became available and Orkest De Volharding were able to set about building a concert repertoire. The ensemble's special sound and working method seemed to hold a great attraction for Dutch composers, and by the end of their second decade they had also won the interest of numerous foreign composers. The flow of new works written especially for them was enormous. There could be no better testimony to their twenty years of unbending commitment than the 150 works either written or arranged for the orchestra during these years.
Today Orkest De Volharding remains true to its original aims. It is largely due to their influence that New Music has enjoyed such great expansion in The Netherlands. The policy of taking contemporary music beyond the routine concert circuit has taken them into the unfashionable parts of the big cities and out to the small towns and villages. They have in many cases created concert venues, and then returned to them to ensure that interest remains alive.
After more than twenty years Orkest De Volharding remains a unique ensemble, playing a more active part in the international music scene than ever before. They continue to sustain an identity quite distinct from all other groups. A number of factors contribute to this. The unchanging line-up of three saxophones, three trumpets, three trombones, flute, French horn, piano and bass is unlike any other. Whatever the circumstances, they refuse to employ stand-ins. The musicians continue to be drawn from both classical and jazz backgrounds, and are put under no pressure to merge into a unified sound (their individual tastes and ideas are precisely what the group exploits). Then there is the fact that the musicians do not sit down, but play standing on their feet, part of their legacy from jazz. Much of their musical demands such physical commitment that they have very little choice anyway! Finally, there is the policy of collective artistic responsibility, which ensures that they do not lose their edge. All these factors combine to create the wholly original sound of Orkest De Volharding, and to ensure that the group plays a pivotal role on the borders between contemporary composed, improvised and pop music.
In their repertoire, in their line - up, in their audience, and in their approach, Orkest De Volharding has won for itself a unique place within contemporary chamber music.
Text courtesy of Marianne Berenschot: Producer: Orkest De Volharding
Contact details for the orchestra are as follows:
Orkest de Volharding
Cooperatieve Vereniging u.a.
1091 EC Amsterdam
Telephone(+31) - 20 - 6948187
Fax(+31) - 20 - 69456607
Orkest de Volharding Website
If you have any comments, additions or questions I would be really pleased to hear from you!
Last Updated by David Charlton on Saturday, 6 February, 1999
Copyright © David Charlton, 1997-2000.