Twente Guitar Festival 2006

The 26th, 27th and 28th of May 2006 were the days of a great weekend for the classical guitar in Theatre Concordia, a nice small theatre in the city of Enschede. Enschede is a medium size town in Twente, one of the eastern districts in The Netherlands, close to the German border.

This was the weekend of the Twente Guitar Festival. I was there as a participant and listener. Because I am a writer besides being an amateur classical guitarist, I could not leave writing a story and personal impression about this festival. It’s a bit of an addiction as André Manuel (he was one of the performers during the festival) described it as a junkie of the pen and addicted to the word…

A Long Time Ago...

Theatre Concordia has been the home of a number of guitar festivals in the past. In the early nineties, the members of the then Segovia Guitar Quartet organised a little festival for their students and guitar amateurs from the Twente region. The players were most fans and sympathizers of the Quartet, one of the rare classical ensembles with an own fan club!

I had just started studying with Ed Westerik, one of the members of the Segovia Guitar Quartet. I participated and succeeded to play Gerbe des Fleurs by Jose Fer­rer in a way, both myself and the audience liked. I still remember the happy and cheerful atmosphere in the dressing rooms in the catacombs under the stage. Every­one was preparing and looking forward to their performances on stage one way or another, players were supporting each other, either by explicit encouragement or simply by lending an ear at the rehearsals.

The festival became a place to see and hear others playing and to start musical relationships in ensembles. ;-) I guess it started some love relations as well, music can be quite fruitful when getting to know each other. At that occasion Gerda Meijer and I started the Granados Duo, an ensemble which unfortunately did not live thát long (just like its name giver Granados, who died at a relatively young age when his ship was torpedoed in the English Channel in 1916). Anyway, we did some nice recitals together!

In those days, the guitar concert life was much more vivid, the Guitar Series regu­larly visited Enschede in the Twentse Schouwburg theatre with well-known artists like Manuel Barrueco, Sharon Isbin, David Russell and the Assad brothers.

The Segovia Guitar Festival was organized three times: twice in Theatre Concordia and once in the School of Music in Hengelo, the neighbouring town of Enschede. After these, it became rather quiet in the field of large-scale guitar events.

In my mind, all memories of these sequels of the Segovia Guitar Festival had faded to more or less vague aquarelles with nice colours. It would have stayed that way, when all of a sudden, an opportunity arose to paint a new impression on the canvas of my mind.

The Organisation: Duo NIHZ, The Guitar Company and Robert Horna

November 2004, I read an announcement in the paper of a sequence of recitals by young musicians who had started ensembles in order to try to gain a foothold in the concert circuit. The concerts looked fun to me, so I bought a pass for my Love and myself, just to go out together and have fun.

The name Duo Niet In Het Zwart (also abbreviated to Duo NIHZ) translates as Duo ‘Not Dressed In Black’, because they do not wish to appear in the rather formal DJ and evening gown, as is customary in the classical concert world.

Duo NIHZ consists of Bobby Rootveld (stringed instruments with a focus on guitars, percussion and dramatic improvisation) and Sanna van Elst (all kinds of recorders, from deep bass until super-soprano), who extend their musical performances with theatre and cabaret. They play both classical/traditional music and modern/improvised music, performing it in many recitals. They were on the air a number of times and recorded a CD. Do take a look at their website.

The Guitar Company consists of Bobby Rootveld, Torsten Preut, Jaap Majoor and Niels Ottink. They present a sampling of classical ensemble music in various styles and different line-up, from solo to quartet. Amongst their music is a lot of self-arranged material.

I met both ensembles (;-) together with their enthusiastic supporters) for the first time in the Synagogue in Borne, a small picturesque village in the vicinity of Enschede. Since World War Two, this Synagogue is not in use any more for religious practice, so now it is used as a little concert hall for exhibitions and performance of chamber music.

The performance of Duo NIHZ and The Guitar Company was a well-balanced and enjoyable mix of music and theatre, all played with a great deal of verve.

Some of these people had the idea to start a great and ambitious project: The Twente Guitar Festival! Bobby Rootveld, Jaap Majoor, Niels Ottink and Robert Horna -who would give master classes himself and play a recital- established the Twente Guitar Festival Foundation and went to work!

The Festival

The Twente Guitar Festival would take place on the 26th, 27th and 28th of May 2006 in Theatre Concordia in Enschede. You could participate as a guitarist, or buy tickets for the recitals only. For the participants, besides the recitals, the festival included workshops, master classes and a guitar contest in various classes.

For the master classes, the organisers had invited quite a few well-known guitarists and guitar teachers. They were Yves Storm from Belgium, Marcin Dylla and Robert Horna from Poland and the Dutchman Jim ten Boske. Besides the master classes they played a recital each. Further the Dutch guitarist Enno Voorhorst and the singer/songwriter André Manuel made their appearance.

For me personally it was very appealing that the master classes were open to non-professional players as well. I used to have the idea that master classes were only for conservatory students and professional players, a Class for the Masters. For this occasion it appeared to be a Class by the Master, and thus accessible for the amateur player.

The guitar contests provided a bit of competitiveness which is quite nice for people who are inspired by the thought of matching themselves. The major sponsor for this contest was the Austrian Theo Scharpach, who is a guitar builder here in Holland. During the Scharpach Contest, the Dutch guitarist Enno Voorhorst played one of Scharpach’s designs of a classical guitar, an instrument with numerous practical innovations compared to the classical Torres build.

Fortunately, the contest was not compulsory for participation in the master classes. ;-) if it were, I had not been there! This did not mean, however, that non-contestants would completely lack to get some experience on stage, because the organisers fixed up an open stage, where everybody could play if he or she liked to.

The festival location Theatre Concordia is a very nice small theatre near the Grote Markt, the entertainment centre of Enschede. Concordia has a relatively large concert hall for about 160 people, a small auditorium and a hall which is used for theatrical and movie performances. It is a classical built theatre with those nice catacomb-like dressing rooms under the stage, with the narrow stairs up. When you are in the concert hall and raise your eyes (out of curiosity if you are in the audience or maybe out of despair if you are on stage), you will see a few nice classical ornaments and painting on the ceiling.

This spring I received an email from Bobby Rootveld with the announcement of the Twente Guitar Festival, plus the remark that it was fun to participate. A link brought me to the website of the Twente Guitar Festival which provided me with all necessary information.

I was a bit in doubt, would I participate, or not? I’m not such a contest player and I was not sure whether non-contestants and amateurs would be allowed to join in the master classes. My Love was much more resolute (;-) she exactly knows how to be a manager whenever necessary): I just had to subscribe, because it was many years ago since my last guitar event. Moreover, I had to get a bit of inspiration, because after almost two years without guitar instruction my musical passion got a bit waning.

So, I subscribed and waited eagerly...