Guitar Festival Nordhorn 2018


Such a hurry, every “completion” of a hardly finished job being a take-off for the next deadline. That chased me last year, both in my job and leisure time. From one job to the next, the word “priority” continuously frustrating my peace of mind and rattling my life.

I take a look at my speedometer. A bit too fast for the regional road of the Oldenzaalse Straat just beyond the famous truck stop Frans op den Bult. Let’s call it drive rather than hurry, so it is not obvious that I am stressed. I am on my way to the eighth edition of the Guitar Festival Nordhorn.

The roundabout near Avatarz is busy, I am driving in the middle of peak-hour. I’ll have to wait for an occasion to cross the outer circle for a leap towards the inner circle to proceed. An opportunity? Go! Shit, he takes the outer circle last minute! I hit the brakes. I was a bit too hasty, near miss! It would have been too bad indeed, if I had crashed right now.

Yes, my employed life has a “sporty” appearance nowadays. Strict deadlines, agile working, sprints of a few weeks only, stand-ups and scrums with continuous progress terrorism. Walls full of coloured post-its that indicate progress, delaying trouble spots and backlog work on unstable timelines. Continuous chasing people to “achieve the best”. Implicit distrust that you are not working efficiently. In the meantime, priorities are shifting and the stickered construction collapses, causing another series of stand-ups and scrums. It’s a restless disorder that paralyzes all activity in the end.

To add insult to injury, this unbalance crept into my leisure time as well.

No crash, fortunately, I take the turn to the N342. Straight towards the roundabout of the Denekamperstraat. The long straight road towards the ancient Viking camping place is quite familiar to me. At its sides, the landscape shows its springtime dress, fresh green, at times almost too green on the fields that have lost their bio-diversity due to human intervention (and pesticides).

What exactly is hurry? I experience it as the fear of being late. I have the impression that I am too late for everything. Why this fear? Hmmm.... possibly the urge to stay ahead of fate? While I am anticipating everything that is possible, yet possibly never occurs? The statistics of good and bad luck?

I got to pay attention to the traffic. A straight long road invites to wandering off in musing and increasing speed at the same time. That’s why the road builders included traffic islands with chicanes at certain distances.

Destination of this ride: The Guitar Festival Nordhorn. Even this time, I have a deadline as well, the pieces for the guitar ensemble workshop. The scores arrived -to use management chat- at a slightly challenging time, less than four days in advance. Too short for a proper preparation of the workshop. For an effective progress, I should at least have had a proper knowledge of my part, shouldn’t I?

Major drawback of deadlines and hurry is my loss of sense of time, in particular the time that I have left. “Gosh, so soon?” occurred to me regularly when the Future became Now sooner than I thought. The same applies to this guitar festival.

Well.... Actually not well... In this way I am missing out on excitement, joy and a pleasant mix of past and future. High time to catch up on this!

What does the Guitar Festival Nordhorn mean to me? Reunion in particular. Meeting people again that have become friends, even though I meet (and hug) them only once a year. Hugging? Yes, the Nordhorn Hug has become the trade mark of solidarity. Additionally it means contact with a world that surprizes and enchants me a few days, even though it is not mine.

I pass the border, the language and license plates become different. Most of them show the city code NOH. After a short drive I have found my trusted parking lot behind the school at the Rasenstrasse. With a case full of GFN-books, my knapsack and guitar I walk towards the Kulturhaus NIHZ.

Guitar Festival Nordhorn 2018 can start!

The Team

Every festival has a team behind the show that makes things happen. To start with, the organizers Bobby Rootveld en Sanna Rootveld-Van Elst. In 2011 they established Kulturhaus Niet In Het Zwart (NIHZ) in former shop-premises in the Mittelstrasse in Nordhorn. Ample room for a concert hall, practice rooms, recreation room, a guest dormitory and their own living space. In 2011, here the very first Guitar Festival Nordhorn took place, which would achieve reputation as GFN.

I was there all these editions, as a participant and a journalist. This resulted in the reports on the DOS Amigos Homepage and a book about the first years of this festival.  Feast on Six Strings, an entertaining story about concerts, competitions and  festival adventures. Plus a series of interesting interviews with artists - amongst them Roland Dyens - participants, organizers and supporters. The book has a lot of photographs from the first five years. You can order this book at Feast on Six Strings. It is a valuable addition to guitar history. Seize the opportunity before the next anniversary book writes history.

Organisation, that is the start. Then the hard work starts. Processing subscriptions, administration, catering, the bar, transfer of artists and all those other chores for smooth proceedings on the festival. With the main players Fred and Angie Rootveld, Martin and Henk Olden, Thomas Peperkamp and his girlfriend Marian, Samuel Klemke, Julian Restropo, Gergely Pázmándi, Alexei Belousov, Annette Kruisbrink, Arlette Ruelens, Jim and Ine ten Boske, Corine Binnekamp and undersigned.

All the work was done in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere, one of the trademarks of this festival. Lots of thanks to The Team.

As usual, I write the yearly report of this festival. This year I noticed that there were too many activities to write about them all in detail. Fortunately, a co-reporter was around. Corine, thanks for the additions.

In Memoriam: Karin

I have been visiting guitar festivals since 2006. Initially I attended the Twente Guitar Festivals in Enschede, later on I went to the Guitar Festival Nordhorn in the town of the same name just over the border near Denekamp.

At one of the Twente Guitar Festivals, I met Karin at master classes and concerts. It appeared that she had been a visitor of these festivals from the very beginning, just like me. The next year, well you see a familiar face, every time a starting point for a chat, just like I was a kind of landmark for her myself. In this way people become a part of the atmosphere.

After the establishment of Kulturhaus NIHZ in 2011 she visited the festivals in both Enschede and Nordhorn. Besides we met at many other happenings that were organized by Kulturhaus NIHZ. Thus she became part of the atmosphere, a person you chat with about music and well-being, someone that you miss if she is not there.

Gradually we got acquainted a bit. She described how she liked to get absorbed by a nice book with lots of good music on the background. She told about the pleasant experience of listening to a live musician with an attentive audience.

Just before the festival she passed away while she was doing what she liked best, getting absorbed by a lovely book on the sound of delightful music. A seamless transition from a dream at life time towards an eternal life in a dream.

Karin, we miss you!

The secret Competition: Composition

Cloak and Dagger, sharp and possibly poisonous notes on paper. The secret and obviously invisible competition of the composers. This time I did not even notice Annette, Thomas and Jim with mysterious sheet music in the premises, like last year. A tough job by the competition jury to judge the composition based on knowledge, experience and inner music as an extra to all other jury duties.

In some way I think that it is a pity that this competition is played in mysteriousness, because I guess that it is an interesting world in its own right. Unfortunately, the winning composition will not be played before the next festival. Up till now the wait was worth it, because the winning compositions presented interesting music.

At the Sunday evening, it appeared that the Russian (?) composer Constantin Blyoch had won the competition with his White Sonata. The piece will be published by the Louis Ignatius Gall Foundation and performed by one of the artists next year. This year we had fourteen competitors.