Domtoren Tour de France Concert

Domplein Tour de France Trees
In about an hour, at 12:30, there will be a special cycling/France-themed Domtoren concert. With the Tour de France ready to start tomorrow, the theme is obvious. Carillonneur, Malgosia Fiebig, will be performing a fantastic set list that includes Tom Waits, Queen, and Kraftwerk. You can find the full set list here. As always, you’ve got to love it when a bell tower dating back to 1382, and a carillon dating to the 17th century, performs modern music. Kraftwerk! On a carillon! Brilliant!

I hope all of the visitors who have begun to arrive take notice and enjoy the concert. That moment when you’re wandering through the city and realize what you’re hearing is bound to put a smile on your face.

The Domplein and other squares throughout the city are set up with large screens for viewing the events this week, and of course, there are lots of decorations, including the tree trunks wrapped in Tour de France jersey-themed colors. The white with red polka dots is kind of funny, since it’s for the King of the Mountain and, well, this is a very flat country. There is that one slight hill over by Park Lepelenburg where they had the team presentations last night …
Domplein Tour de France TreesDomplein Tour de France Trees
I wonder if the Domtoren made of bicycle parts is on display anywhere. I saw it this past December and thought it was brilliant.

Maybe a King’s Not So Bad …

Koningsnacht 2014I’m far from being a monarchist, but having a monarchy has its moments. Like this weekend. Queen’s Day has always been fun — and nowadays is more about having a good time than celebrating a monarch — and now the first King’s Day has also gone over well. We celebrated King’s Night a bit more than the Day, but we still got out and wandered around the city a bit during the day, although we skipped the heavy crowds of the vrijmarkt this year.

Our house is close to one of the multiple stage areas around the city, so as soon as the live music started up, we could hear it all clearly from home. We enjoyed some from our terrace, as we grilled out, and then after dinner, we decided to go out and see it in person. The sounds of the salsa band playing were particularly enticing. As it turned out, I even knew the trumpeter. It’s Robert from the Kat in de Stad books! We weren’t the only ones enjoying the music. There was a growing crowd, but still enough space for dancing.Koningsnacht 2014After listening for a while, we decided to wander around, checking out more of the festivities. The streets were blocked off from auto traffic, so the streets were a free-for-all of people and bikes. Mainly people. Lots and lots of friendly people. It was a really positive vibe, as it is every year. We decided to head over to Neude, where another of the big stages was set up, but not before stopping for a glass of prosecco along the way. Wine, beer, coffee, soft drinks, and food … all of it was available from a variety of stalls and restaurants. It was a bit like my New Orleans days; open containers allowed! The first place we got our prosecco from even had fluted plastic glasses for it!Koningsnacht (Neude)Koningsnacht 2014By the time we got to Neude, it was getting darker and the crowds were getting bigger, but still everyone was having a great time. We stopped for another glass of prosecco before heading over to Janskerkhof where another big party was getting under way.

There was a big stage with live music and lots of lights and colors. The music wasn’t my favorite, but visually the area looked amazing!Koningsnacht 2014Koningsnacht 2014Koningsnacht 2014Koningsnacht 2014Koningsnacht 2014After taking in the sights, we finally finished the loop and headed back to our own neighborhood to enjoy more of the party. We watched some of the music for a while and then decided to head home. That didn’t mean we were done for the night, though. The weather was so fantastic that we decided to do what many a Dutch person does and set our chairs out on the sidewalk in front of our house. That way, we could enjoy the music and do a bit of people watching. We stayed out there until the music ended at one in the morning, exchanging greetings with lots of passers-by. We had a truly gezellig evening!Koningsnacht 2014For King’s Day, we had a leisurely start to the day and watched a bit of the royal family taking part in their own festivities on TV. We then headed out around noon — while things were still quiet — and enjoyed the sunshine and the friendly atmosphere. When we got to the Oudegracht, we even saw a band that we’d seen last year that we really liked. I wish I knew their name, because I’d love to see them perform again. They have a super cool, blues-y, Morphine-ish sound that is fantastic.Koningsdag 2014We were feeling pretty mellow ourselves, so after a walk to Mariaplaats — before the crowds arrived — we headed back to enjoy some more of the bands playing in our neighborhood, finishing the day relaxed and happy.Koningsdag 2014Koningsdag 2014

Perfect Day on a Not So Perfect Day

Perfect DayAs I’ve surely said countless times before, one of the things I love so much about Utrecht is that it’s a perfect blend of historic and modern. Buildings that are hundreds of years old are still used as homes, businesses, and more, rather than being turned solely into museum pieces. Even the Domtoren manages to keep up with the times through its music choices. Although many pieces played every 15 minutes are classical, you’re just as likely to hear more modern songs, from Toto to Lady Gaga.

The various bells throughout town become background noise on a daily basis, but every once in a while, especially during some of the midday Domtoren concerts, a certain song will jump out at you. As I was working today, I found myself humming Lou Reed’s song Perfect Day. At first I didn’t think much of it, since that and other songs of his have been in my head this week after the sad news of his passing. But then I realized that the song was in my head because I was hearing it played on the Domtoren carillon.

Sadly, today isn’t as perfect a day as last Thursday when I managed to salvage these photos from my camera. That was a glorious day, crisp and bright, without a cloud in the deep blue sky. Unfortunately, today is cold, grey, damp, and miserable, but hearing Perfect Day played on the Domtoren carillon brought a bit of sunshine into my day.
Perfect Day

A Day in the Park

Day in the Park 2013
Look! It’s a big school bus in its natural habitat! After seeing a couple of the big yellow buses in Utrecht, it’s almost entertaining to see them actually on the streets here in the US. They come in all sizes and colors here, although the yellow remains the most typical for actual daily school runs. White ones, such as the one seen here, are more commonly used for extra activities, such as transporting students and athletes to sporting events, or in this case, transporting the members of the Andrews High School marching band.
Andrews Marching Band
Here in the US, most schools have a marching band that performs at sporting events, as well as local parades and festivals. The Andrews marching band performs each year at the annual Day in the Park in Jamestown. They started off marching through some of the park, before finishing at the stage area where the band played a few songs and the dance squad performed.
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band
Andrews Marching Band

The Day in the Park has been going on for years and is a mix of music, games, food, crafts, and stalls where people show off their skills, sell their wares, or simply spread the word about their organization. I’ve attended quite frequently over the years, in part because my father is a regular exhibitor.
Day in the Park 2013
This year, he could be found in the Folk Life display, where people exhibited basket weaving, yarn making, quilts, and, in my dad’s case, ships in a bottle. He’s been making them for years and attends the festival to tell people about the hobby and explain a bit about how it’s done.
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
Day in the Park 2013
If you’re ever in Jamestown around the 20th of September, give or take a day or so, do check out the Day in the Park. It’s a fun, friendly event in a beautiful setting (more of the actual park to come in another post). In all, you could say it’s gezellig.

A Night of Lights and Music at VJ op de Dom with Kypski

DSC03396 DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
Last night I was awake and up late enough to finally make it to this year’s edition of VJ op de Dom, an annual mix of light art and music. Each year a variety of musicians/DJs perform, while light, art, video, and graphics are beamed onto the walls of the Domtoren. The whole square in front of the Domtoren is packed with people enjoying the music, lights, and hanging out with friends. It’s all very casual and gezellig.
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
For whatever reason, I’ve missed it in the past couple of years, but I was determined to finally go this year, in part because DJ Kypski, who was performing the last set, lives in my neighborhood. Got to support your buurman! He’s a nice guy who does some fantastic work on his own and with artists like Caro Emerald and the Matangi String Quartet. In fact, his work with the Matangi String Quartet may have been great prep for last night’s show, known as Beats Barok. The artists combined Baroque music with their own modern sounds, as a nod to both the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht and the Oude Muziek Festival currently going on in town.

My pictures might not be the best, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I figured it would be too crowded for the tripod, so I made do. Bobbing DJs and moving lights in a dark setting were a bit of a challenge, but some of the blurry bits still look kind of cool. This is a cool shot of the Domtoren announcing Kypski and here’s a photo from Kypski with the view from the stage, looking out on the crowd. For some proper photos, check out annafotographie. It was a fun night; I’m glad I finally made it!
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
DJ Kypski | VJ op de Dom
Full photo set on Flickr.

Utrecht Te Deum

Vrede van Utrecht/Treaty of Utrecht
Perhaps not surprisingly, Utrecht isn’t the only city to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Vrede van Utrecht (Treaty of Utrecht) this year. Although our celebrations are the most extensive and ongoing, other cities and countries have also commemorated the historic peace agreement. The method most other cities have chosen has been a concert performance of George Frideric Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate.

Although born and raised in Germany, Handel had settled permanently in England by 1712. He composed his Baroque choral piece for Britain’s Queen Anne in 1713, to celebrate the end of the War of Spanish Succession. The musical piece was first performed publicly at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on 13 July 1713, just a few short months after the signing of the treaty.

Now, 300 years later, this important choral piece has once again been performed in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was part of the City of London Festival and was conducted by Jos Vermont and performed by The Toonkunstkoor Utrecht and English Chamber Choir.

In addition, the Accademia Bizantina, based in Ravenna, Italy, has been travelling in Europe, performing the Utrecht Te Deum in various cities this year. They will be performing once more in France on 28 August.

You can see a copy of the Utrecht Te Deum at the Centraal Museum, which has an extensive Vrede van Utrecht exhibit exploring both the conflict and the ground-breaking resolution. I’ll have more about the exhibit later this week.

For now, here is a sampling of Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate:

The Darkness of Summer

Gothic CathedralOn a dark night when the moon hovers behind red-tinged clouds and the only sound is the a pair of footsteps ringing out behind you on the brick streets, it’s not hard to believe that the cathedral’s gargoyles may come to life to serve some dark figure that haunts Utrecht. The city is a Gothic paradise.

Not surprisingly then, it’s been the home of the annual Summer Darkness festival that swarms the city every July/August. Goths, Lolitas, Steampunks, and other inhabitants of the underworld arrive from across Europe to connect, find new fashions, and listen to lots of music.

If you’re out and about in Utrecht this weekend and it all seems a bit darker and yet more colorful than usual, that’s because the Summer Darkness festival is back this weekend.
Patat Met Goth [Day 224/365]
Strike a Pose

There will be events around the city, as well as the usual market and stages at the Domplein. If you have an interest in portrait photography, it’s not hard to find willing subjects and the Pandhof offers a great setting. Plus, there are numerous fashion shows in the Domplein, with a crowd that’s often as interesting as the models.

Summer Darkness 2012

I would have loved this festival back in my teens/early 20s, and to be honest, I still get a thrill from it all, even if I don’t recognize the names of most of the bands nowadays. That said, I do recognize a lot of the vinyl on sale in the market. Corrosion of Conformity, Christian Death, Tones on Tail, The Damned, TSOL, and so on.

Insanely hot weather be damned, I’m sure I’ll be back in the Domplein at some point this weekend with camera in hand and old memories in mind, and perhaps cash in pocket to buy some purple hair dye once again.

My Favorite

Summer Evening Concerts in Utrecht

The summer Domtoren concerts (zomeravondconcerten) start up again tomorrow evening. Every Monday at 20:00, guest carilloneurs and other musicians, as well as Utrecht’s resident carilloneur, Malgosia Fiebig, will perform a variety of musical pieces.

The music can be heard throughout the old city center without much trouble, but for a particularly good listening spot, you can head to the cathedral’s Pandhof. Each week has a different musical theme, with tomorrow’s inaugural concert featuring operatic pieces by Verdi and Mozart.

You may remember that last year they performed Tubular Bells for the closing concert of the series. This year’s finale will be no less spectacular, as the musicians perform an adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Per the official city website, here is the schedule of performers:
1 july 20.00 Malgosia Fiebig (city carilloneur) and the opera klass of Studio 32
8 july 20.00 Margaret Pen (USA)
15 july 20.00 Jeremy Chesman (USA)
22 july 20.00 Paul Maasen: Jazz op de Dom with bass guitar and percussion
29 july 20.00 Twan Bearda (Belgium)
5 aug. 20.00 Eddy Mariën (Belgium)
12 aug. 20.00 Duo Anne Maria Reverté and Koen van Assche (Spain)
19 aug. 20.00 Malgosia Fiebig, Jeroen van Veen, Sandra Mol with an arrangement of ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd