MicroFest Amsterdam 2015

Festival | 29th of November 2015, 11.00-21.30 hours | Small Hall, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam

MicroFest Amsterdam 2015

In November of this year the Huygens-Fokker Foundation organizes for the second time a microtonal festival in The Netherlands, under the title MicroFest Amsterdam 2015. A festival for many enthusiastic listeners and people interested in music based on unconventional tunings and other divisions of the octave. Music that, like the famous American composer Charles Ives put it, consists of ‘the notes between the keys of the piano’. This edition of the festival will give mainly attention to 31-tone music (with the Italian composer and pioneer Nicola Vicentino, who lived during the Renaissance, as the thread running through the festival), but also to 96-tone music and music based on just intonation. These tunings or divisions of the octave are leading to completely new musical and tonal possibilities, a source of fresh sounds that forever expands the ear of the listener and the thinking about music. Enough reasons to visit this one-day festival for microtonal music.




Programma MicroFest

Concert 1 | 11.00 - 12.00 hours | SCALA’s Spectrum

During the opening concert of MicroFest Amsterdam 2015, a one-day festival for microtonal music, Ensemble SCALA kicks off with a program full of premieres. New works by Danny de Graan, Eric Verbugt and the German composer Joachim Schneider will frame a few short compositions. Also on the program is a reprise of Scala I by Peter Adriaansz. The wide sound spectrum of Ensemble SCALA, with the Fokker organ as a part of them, will be illuminated during the entire concert and in all its diversity. How do the overtones of a flute or a clarinet sound? Or microtones on a viola or a guitar? All these questions will be answered in a very adventurous and musical way.

Ensemble SCALA is an ensemble for microtonal music in the Netherlands initiated by the Huygens-Fokker Foundation (centre for microtonal music) in 2010. Remarkable is that the unique Fokker organ is part of this ensemble. The musicians are all specialists in the field of contemporary music, who jointly explore the colorful borders of microtonality. Over the past five years, the ensemble has built up a broad repertoire of works by composers from
The Netherlands and abroad, composed many different musical styles. With unconventional tunings as focal point, Ensemble SCALA focuses on the growing interest of composers worldwide in microtones as a new way to express themselves artistically.

Ensemble SCALA: Raymond Honing (flute), Michel Marang (clarinet), Manuel Visser (viola), Stefan Gerritsen (31-tone guitar), Anne Veinberg (keyboards), Ere Lievonen (Fokker organ) en Glenn Liebaut (percussion).



Danny de Graan (1973) - In the Blink of an Eye (2015)    premiere

Nicola Vicentino (1511-c.1576) - III. Dolce mio ben (1555)
                                             IV. Madonna, il poco dolce (1555)

Peter Adriaansz (1966) - Scala I (2012/2013)

Eric Verbugt (1966) - earth (2015)    premiere

Giovanni Battista Orazi (?-1804) - Grave & Allegro, from Trio I (1797)
                                              arr. Ere Lievonen (2015)

Joachim F.W. Schneider (1970) - Unruh (2015)   premiere


NB. The work of Peter Adriaansz and Danny de Graan were financially supported by the Performing Art Fund Netherlands (Fonds Podiumkunsten).



Lecture 1 | 13.30 - 14.15 hours | Agustín Castilla-Ávila  (free entrance)

Agustín Castilla-Ávila is a composer, guitarist and vice-president of the microtonal International Ekmelic Music Society in Salzburg, Austria. He has developed a sixth-of-a-tone system for classical guitar (on an ordinary guitar). He uses six equal strings tuned at sixths of a tone that allows any guitarist to play microtonal music without acquiring a special guitar of developing a special technique for it. The lecture is not only interesting for guitarists but also for composers who can get many new ideas about the possibilities of the guitar. During the lecture, he presents microtonal guitars and defend why he works with the sixth-of-a-tone system. Finally he will perform a brand new piece, named Cuestionart.


Concert 2 | 15.00 - 16.00 hours | Nicola Vicentino, a second life

The visionary 16th century composer and music theorist Nicola Vicentino is famous for his advocacy of an ancient Greek enharmonic mode and the microtonal Archicembalo that he designed for it. Only four of his madrigals survived, of which three are unfinished. The late Bob Gilmore, with Trio Scordatura, asked composers to complete/respond freely to them. The original madrigals will be performed in a Scordatura arrangement together with new compositions by Anne LaBerge, Linda Buckley, John Croft, Lucia D’Errico, Christopher Fox, Yannis Kyriakides, Scott McLaughlin, Hans W. Koch, Juan Felipe Waller and Harald Muenz.

Since its inception in spring 2006, Amsterdam-based new music ensemble trio scordatura has presented exploratory music by a range of contemporary composers and sound artists that looks toward new tuning systems and microtonality as a way of expanding the harmonic vocabulary of music. The basic soundworld of female voice, viola and MIDI keyboard is expanded by other sonorities depending on musical context. Their concerts feature “classics” from the worlds of microtonal and spectral music together with new commissions. Sometimes this crosses over into work in multimedia, involving text, video, dance, and light.

Scordatura: Alfrun Schmid (voice), Elisabeth Smalt (viola), Reinier van Houdt (keyboard), Benjamin Marquise Gilmore (violin), Lucas van Helsdingen (bass clarinet, coffee grinder).



Nicola Vicentino (1511-1576) - Dolce mio ben (1555)

Yannis Kyriakides (1969) - poco dolce, molto amaro (2014)

Juan Felipe Waller (1971) - Eidolonian dream (phishing scales) (2015) *

John Croft (1971) - Soave dolc’ardore (2015) *

Nicola Vicentino - Soave dolc’ardore (1555)

Anne La Berge (1955) - Languid Sighs (2014)

Lucia d’Errico (1982) - Madonna il poco dolce (2014) **

Hans Koch (1962) - Il poco dolce (2015) *

Nicola Vicentino - Madonna il poco dolce (1555)

Harald Muenz (1965) - Allo studio con Nicola (2014) **

Scott McLaughlin (1975) - Untitled (for Bob) (2015) *

Christopher Fox (1955) - dolce…pianto (2014)

Linda Buckley (1979) - musica prisca caput (2015) *

Nicola Vicentino - Musica prisca caput (1555)

* premiere / ** NL premiere


Lecture 2 | 16.30 - 17.15 hours | Christopher Fox  (free entrance)

The second lecture of the day is a tribute to the recently deceased musicologist Bob Gilmore. The British composer Christopher Fox, also Professor of Music at Brunel University London, will discuss what Gilmore did for microtonal music, the projects he has worked on and the special instruments which he built. Several composers who have inspired Gilmore will be discussed, such as the American composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, about whom Gilmore wrote a biography.


Concert 3 | 20.15 - 21.30 hours | New & old harmonies in 31-tone system

The evening concert of the MicroFest Amsterdam 2015 will end with a special 31-tone project. At the request of the Berlin-based conductor and composer Fabio Costa, the Huygens-Fokker Foundation (organizer of the MicroFest) formed the Vokalprojekt 31, especially for this festival. A small ensemble of four singers will be accompanied by the unique Fokker organ. Together they will perform fascinating music in meantone temperament and 31-tone temperament in a unique way.

On the program are brand new compositions by Fabio Costa (modern madrigal and a prelude) and Sander Germanus (an opera in four minutes), some madrigals from the Renaissance and early Baroque and various pieces from different periods, arranged for 31-tone organ. An example of this are the two works by Karg-Elert, now provided with the magical 7th overtone in the score. Fabio Costa about the project: "I am convinced that 31-EDO will gain ever more space, once it is better understood - and heard! It is very exciting to explore this fascinating new territory, with a new tonal, harmonic language right in the 21st century. And I believe the Fokker-Stichting has a great oportunity and a leading role in agglutinating in Amsterdam what is going on in this field worldwide."

Vokalprojekt 31: Valeria Mignaco (soprano), Alfrun Schmid (alto), Edward Leach (tenor) en Arnout Lems (baritone).

The accompaniment of this special project will be done by the regular Fokker organist Ere Lievonen.



Fabio Costa (1971) - Prelude-Meditation (2006/2015)    premiere

Nicola Vicentino (1511-c.1576) - Musica prisca caput (1555)

Cipriano De Rore (c.1515-1565) - Ancor che col partire (1547)

Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) - Blasse Blume, op.102 no.1 (1914)
                                           Profumo sottile del fiore magico, op.101 no.33 (1923)

Sigismondo d’India (1582-1629) - Piangono al pianger mio (1609)

Sander Germanus (1972) - L’ultimo minuto di Donna Maria (2015)   premiere

Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) - Canzon francese

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599) - Madonna, sua mercè, pur una sera (1585)

Nicola Vicentino (1511-1576) - ‘Musica prisca caput’ (1555)   premiere

                                          transcriptie door Ere Lievonen

Fabio Costa (1971) - Aphoristic Madrigal (2015)   premiere


NB. Between the programmed works pianist Anne Veinberg will improvise on the Carrillo-piano, which has 97 keys, so 96 tones can be distinguished in one octave (C' to C'').




Single concerts are 12,50 euros, a passe-partout for the entire festival costs 30 euros. >>>

Reduction tickets (Stadspas, CJP, 65+) for single concerts are 10 euros.

Tickets can be reserved at the Muziekgebouw.


Tip: restaurants in the neighborhood

There are several restaurants in the neighborhood of the Muziekgebouw to eat lunch or have diner. At the Oosterdokskade in the public library (OBA) there are two restaurants, La Place on the top floor and Vapiano on the ground floor.







Financial support

This concert is made possible by the support of:

Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Amsterdam Community (District East), Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Dioraphte, Van den Berch van Heemstede Stichting,  Stichting Fonds voor de Geld- en Effectenhandel.

Also the SNS REAAL Fonds (renovation Fokker organ) and the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ.

A donation of the Nederlands Akoestisch Genootschap and a shared contribution of six reputable consultancy offices, namely Cauberg-Huygen, DGMR, LBP|SIGHT, M+P, Peutz and Wijnia-Noorman-Partners (WNP) made it possible for Huygens-Fokker to purchase the Carrillo-piano