KVN is an orchestra based in the Northern Netherlands founded by 3 passionate classical musician students from the Prince Clause Conservatory in Groningen. The orchestra has 14 international string musicians who are from all around the world as Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada and many others. The following interview is meant to inspire international students in Groningen to follow their passion and dreams because everything is possible.
What's the name of your orchestra? How did you come up with this name?
The name of the orchestra is Kamerorkest van het Noorden. After trying many different ideas, some of them a bit (too) poetic, abstract or funny, in the end we realised that the simpler the better. This names explains what do we do, we are a chamber orchestra, and where are we based, in the North of the Netherlands.
Could you tell us more about the founders of the orchestra and your idea behind it?What inspired you to make music together?
We were all students in the Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen and shared the need of building up something new in the region. We wanted to create a new structure for ourselves but also for our friends and future colleagues. This project was meant, from the beginning, as a professional, young and dynamic group of people sharing the passion for playing chamber music together and the will of creating new approaches to reach the audience of our time.
When did you form your ensemble?
The debut concert of the orchestra took part on the 12th of June 2016 in the Kleine Zaal of the Oosterpoort in Groningen, but of course there was almost one year of hard work behind this date in order to make the seed of the project grow.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
This varies a lot, some of us know each other for more than 6 years, some of us just met for the first project. However, what we all had in common is that in one way or another we have a connection with the Northern provinces of the Netherlands.
How would you describe the music you play? Who are your major influences?
We all have been trained as classical musicians. However, our idea about classical music is quite broader compared to the “traditional” concept we are used to. We strongly believe in the communicative power of music, therefore we always create our programs as a story where the audience is taken to a musical journey. As an example we can give you our last concert program “Diction-Contradiction” where we wanted to show the role of arts in human conflicts in different moments of history. This particular concept we wanted to explore, led us to the commission of a new piece in order to show our/ contemporary perspective. This piece dedicated to our orchestra was written by our friend and a great composer Jordi Nus, based in New York and specialized in film scoring. The title is “Uncertain times” for strings and electronics (you can hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-417893643/sets/jordi-nus-uncertain-times). Some of the greatest examples for us are ensembles like Kremerata Baltica, Camerata Nordica or Amsterdam Simfonietta.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming concerts?
As an ensemble we aim to perform in the main concert halls in the country (and abroad), but we have also played in several churches in the region. Nevertheless, one of our goals is to bring our music closer to the people, therefore we are also working on developing projects in unconventional venues as outdoors locations or shopping malls, for instance.
Our next concert will be at the Grand Theatre in Groningen on the 8th of June, which will be the opening of our first workshop with younger musicians, “Teaching and Learning by sharing the stage”.
What are your rehearsals generally like?
We like to work as democratically as possible as a group. We think that building up a performance together means creating a common idea combining everyone’s inputs. Like this all of us feel engaged and committed to the interpretation. Since we work without conductor, we find this to be the best approach to the working process.
This choice takes quite some extra rehearsing time, but in the end it leads to a more personal and precious experience for both the musicians and the audience.
What's your ultimate direction for your orchestra? What is your mission and vision?
The mission of the Kamerorkest van het Noorden is to contribute to the cultural development of the North Netherlands. We firmly believe in investing in today's young people, who are the audience of the future. Therefore it is a high priority for the KvN to collaborate regularly with schools and youth organisations in order to expose the next generation to classical music. In doing this, we hope to initiate a domino effect: the young people whom we reach with our music will bring their friends and family members to our concerts, thereby expanding our audience; in this way we intend to build an audience which breaks the barriers of all generations.
Moreover, the north of the Netherlands is an important source of musical talent. Not only counting the musicians that were born here, but also the ones that developed themselves during their studies here. This is a huge potential and it is a pity that this talent needs to go somewhere else in order to have a carrier. We also want that this project works as a new platform for those young talented musicians connected to the Northern provinces to introduce them in the professional world. The more the KvN establishes as a new professional orchestra, the more opportunities we will be able to give, and the more tools we will have to work on the culture of this region.
In addition, we also want to embrace the rich amateur musical activity in the region. By offering chamber music courses, orchestra workshops and collaborative projects, the KvN will also support all these ensembles, musicians and organisations that, even though do not have professional aspiration, have an important role in the cultural scene.
What has been your biggest challenge as an orchestra? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
The biggest challenge was actually the very first step. We had the ideas and the courage, but bringing them to action was already a tough journey. On the other hand, every new step after that one was not less complicated, so we learnt that the only way is to keep on walking and never give up on following your dreams.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands, orchestras?
They should always go for it, there is nothing to lose when you believe in your ideas and the process itself is the biggest learning for your own future.
Check out the orchestra website here: www.kamerorkestvanhetnoorden.nl
Keep tuned with their FB page where they post their events: https://www.facebook.com/kamerorkestvanhetnoorden/
Listen to more of their music: https://soundcloud.com/user-417893643/sets/debut-concert