This Residentie was organized together with Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University, Cultural Sundays, HKU and RASA.
That migration has an influence on the character of music, and vice versa, is not difficult to comprehend. We can appreciate and enjoy the music that Syrian refugees, for example, bring with them to the Netherlands. And refugees who don’t speak a word of Dutch come into contact with the local population when they make music together. But the mutual influence goes much further, says musicologist and musician, Rebekah Ahrendt.
Rebekah Ahrendt is per January 2016 Utrecht Early Music Festival Fellow and Scholar-in-Residence at the Centre for the Humanities (CfH) of Utrecht University. She was in Utrecht for a Residentie at the invitation of the Centre of the Humanities from January 18th through 24th, 2016. She lectured for the Centre for the Humanities, the Huizinga Institute and for the Music Sciences program (all Utrecht University). And she did more.
January 20th: City Symposium
During the City Symposium, ‘Cultures of Migration and the City,’ held in Utrecht’s City Hall and organized by the Centre for the Humanities and Residenties in Utrecht, Ahrendt discussed the ways in which migration can change the identity of a city. She examined the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) as an example.
The symposium was opened by Councilman Kees Diepeveen (Culture and Social Development) and moderated by Professor Rosi Braidotti (Centre for the Humanities). Ernst van den Hemel (Religion and Comparative Literature, UU) addressed how migration challenges existing forms of education. The symposium was concluded by Geert van Boxtel and Ruben van Gogh, director and librettist of the City Opera ‘Onderweg’ (‘On the way’). This opera is based on interviews of refugees and will premiere on May 1, 2016 on the Cultural Sunday ‘Bestemming Bereikt’ (‘You have reached your destination’).
All photos ©Wineke van Muiswinkel.
Two examples of interesting passages from Rebekah Ahrendt’s lecture:
“Migration is currently a highly charged subject. This has actually always been the case. When the French King Louis XIV in 1685 banned the Protestant religion in his country, for example, an unprecedented refugee movement was set adrift. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Huguenots fled to countries in the north, with all of the problems that ensued – to the fury of heads of state. But there were also advantages. In the stream of refugees were also talented musicians and they took the French music with them to Northern Europe.”
“Music can also play a role in international diplomacy. Music can have an influence on the end result of peace negotiations. Take the international peace negotiations in Utrecht (1711-1713). European countries wanted to end the bloody Spanish wars of succession. Countries sent their ambassadors and secretaries of state to Utrecht, and in their wake followed prostitutes and musicians. Utrecht’s musical life flourished, also because the ambassadors organized evenings of entertainment. Professional musicians provided the music to which the ambassadors and their wives danced, allowing peace talks to continue informally.”
— Judith van der Goes (@judithgoesutreg) 20 januari 2016
Het is vreemd om een opera te maken over een thema dat élke dag in t nieuws is. Maakt t onmogelijk om actueel te zijn, gek genoeg. #onderweg
— Geert van Boxtel (@GeertvanBoxtel) 20 januari 2016
January 22nd: Concert evening, ‘Utrecht and the Diaspora’
Because Rebekah Ahrendt is a trained musician in addition to being a scholar, she was offered the opportunity to curate an evening for RASA. The theme of the evening was migration and music. Ahrendt opened the evening herself with her viola da gamba. The program consisted of three parts.
Part I: Migration and Music on Dutch Podia
In the past we drew musicians and theater makers from afar in order to be able to experience the cultures of other countries. Now the makers live around the corner and a new mix of musical sorts is developing. Rebekah Ahrendt interviewed Jeanneke den Boer, former director of RASA and owner of Culture Connection, about the history of RASA. They also discussed how world music is changing now that musicians have immigrated to the Netherlands. The Mohammed Ahaddaf Quartet played music to accompany the discussion.
Part II: Stadsopera ‘Onderweg’: Makers about migration and collaboration
The City Opera ‘Onderweg’ (‘On the way’) will premiere on May 1, 2016 in Utrecht on the Cultural Sunday ‘Bestemming Bereikt’ (‘You have reached your destination’). The libretto for this opera was written by Baban Kirkuki and Ruben van Gogh, based on interviews of refugees. Kirkuki and Van Gogh were interviewed by Rebekah Ahrendt and they read from their own work.
Part III: Helene Kalisvaart & Hamid Reza Behzadian
Helene Kalisvaart (soprano) heard Hamid Reza Behzadian (harmonica, guitar) playing on the street and asked him to form a duo with her. They play music from Iran, primarily love songs, in which the Dutch soprano sings in Farsi and Arabic.
January 18th – 29th: Workshop ‘Oudenoord en de Buitenwereld’ at the HKU
Students of the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht were invited to attend the workshop ‘Wil je een lift? Need a Ride?’ that had migration as its theme. De workshop revolved around the perception of refugees in Europe.
Wednesday, January 20th, Dutch radio channel Concertzender broadcast an interview with Rebekah Ahrendt about her stay in Utrecht and her scientific topics (presentation: Gerard Meulenberg, in English). About Rebekah Ahrendt
As a scholar Rebekah Ahrendt is a specialist of the 17th and 18th centuries. Her work is interdisciplinary, and using archival sources she takes approaches from history, sociology, language sciences, anthropology and theater sciences. For her PhD research, Rebekah Ahrendt studied the changes in French opera at the time of the mass exodus of the Huguenots from France. In her study, The Republic of Music: Transposed Lives at the Crossroads of Europe, 1669-1713, she treated the subject of ‘national style’ in music. She is also interested in other periods of time, genres and subjects. She is especially interested, for example, in the relationship between early music and modern genres such as gothic, industrial and metal. Her current work concentrates on the role of music in diplomacy.