Twente Guitar Festival 2013

It’s Nine ‘o Clock

It’s nine ‘o clock and I walk
through the empty streets,
thoughts fill my head,
but then still
no one speaks to me.
My mind takes me back
to the years that have passed me by

There I was, walking along the deserted Van Essengaarde in Enschede, an industrial town in the east of Holland. It was Ascension Day, just after nine ‘o clock. A mean cold wind blew against my face. A partially blinded American Guitar Store at the end of the street provided a gloomy view. The once thriving music shop was completely empty, all gear was gone, and the Spiderman on the façade had flown away.

I arrived at the entrance of the Artez Conservatory. The bronze violinist with his hat and instrument case was still there. For how long? The sign besides the door appeared to be an omen. Pop Academy, it read. Classical music is history in this building, “right-minded” Management Lords and calculating Excel sheet Knights had decided that classical music had a better chance with Artez in Zwolle, the capital of the Overijssel province. A policy and a signature were sufficient to cut the cultural link in Enschede.

Soon this grey Enschede fortress of culture will only provide screaming synths, biting e-guitars, pouncing drums, bouncing bass-lines, experimental vocals and the last trends with lighting effects for deejays. The classical students in this city will have to make a daily journey of two hours by train, or the will be forced to move to Zwolle.

Yes, in this case the violinist near the door should pack his bronze case and leave. Maybe he will be replaced by a statue of Michael Jackson. Bad!

Quite a difference with the time that this building was inaugurated indeed! Many years ago I visited this place on an open door day, just to find out if a part-time conservatory training was something for me. Well, it appeared that it was not. Anyway, the building was full of full-time students that made music in every nook and cranny.

Those were the memories from the past. My Love had just dropped me off with guitar case, bread bin and bag for the attributes. It still is cheaper to bring me here instead of going by car myself, because the parking fees in Enschede have been raised again!

I lingered a while in front of the door of Artez, and it was true, My mind takes me back to the years that have passed me by. It was not merely because of the nostalgia of these lyrics with a wink towards the seventies when Aphrodite’s Child was still young, Demis Roussos did not need a slimming strategy and Vangelis did not play the Moog yet.

My mind took me back. I have been making these walks through the Van Essengaarde since 2007, the second year of the then young Twenthe Guitar Festival. This thought caused a quick conclusion with me: I am at the start of the eight’ edition of the Twente Guitar Festival!

That proved a good reason to leave my dark mood behind, to go inside and to experience it!

The Festival

Despite all cultural crisis and budget cut actions in the past years, the Twente Guitar Festival Foundation succeeded in organizing the eight’ edition of this guitar event. That’s quite an organisational performance indeed! First you will have to contact and engage artists. Second you will have to compete with professional fund raisers because many cultural instances hire professionals to get hold of the little number of subsidies that are still there.

The board, consisting of Niels Ottink, Paul Driessen, Gerard Kroeze and Jaap Majoor, had worked hard to make a smooth performance of this festival.

Like last year, the Artez canteen provided room for a number of stands. The luthiers Jan Zonjee, Ramon Riemersma and Jeroen Hilhorst were there with their hand-manufactured instruments. Musikhaus Trekel from Hamburg was present with boxes full of guitar literature, CDs, guitar accessories and guitar gadgets. It was quite a search for Herr Trekel, but he knew that he had it in stock and found it, my little book of arrangements of French Chansons by Cees Hartog.

The Artez canteen also accommodated the board’s desk. Here we could see the achievements of the present information society, laptop, IPad and Smartphone appeared indispensable tools for amongst others registration of the participants.

Like every year, I noticed some improvements in the organisation. The personal introduction email gave you all significant scheduling information for master classes, workshops and concerts. More practical than the PDF of the Excel sheet that contained all in very small font size.

The announcements on the columns in the canteen hall now mentioned both the master classes and the competition schedules. The programmes that were handed out during the preliminaries made the journalist’s life more comfortable. It was too bad that there were no programmes for the finals.

This year the Artez Conservatory had a lockable safe for the instruments as well. It’s nice to store your precious instrument if you want to visit a concert on the Oude Markt outside.

Like every edition, the Twente Guitar Festival had an extensive equipe de volontaires. Folks, volunteers, thanks for your efforts, because behind the screen there is lots of work to be done.