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INTERVIEW: André De Ridder
Alex Weston-Noond , December 4th, 2017 17:59

As he curates this year's Spitalfield Music Festival, André De Ridder speaks to Alex Weston-Noond about his selections, including Nik Void and politics with Monteverdi and Fugazi

This week's Spitafields Music Festival has esteemed composer and arrange André de Ridder as artistic curator. Under a brief to expand the festival's remit, De Ridder has commissioned work that straddles his interest in the orchestral and electronic music traditions, as memorably heard in his collaborations with These New Puritans. We're particularly excited by de Ridder's orchestral collective s t a r g a z e working with Nick Void on a new electroacoustic composition, while Daniel Brandt, of Brandt Brauer Frick, will premiere an orchestral realisation of Brandt's solo album Eternal Something. The night will be closed with a new piece from Quasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi), especially written for s t a r g a z e.

Elsewhere, on the 4th of December, Classic Album Sundays (CAS) presents an evening with composer Max Richter and André de Ridder discussing, Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons. CAS founder and BBC broadcaster will be speaking with the two about the landmark LP, an album which brought contemporary classical and hybrid electronic genres into the mainstream. Following the talk, there will be an uninterrupted vinyl playback of the album using CAS and Audio Note UK's audiophile hi-fi, allowing listeners to experience the album in a way they haven't been able to. We spoke to De Ridder to find out more.

What was the reasoning behind the acts you chose?

André De Ridder: “In most cases, the reason was that these are musicians whose work I have admired for a while, and who I really wanted to see create/perform in this slightly different context. First of all, in the classic band set-up they are known for (Factory Floor, Dawn of Midi, Brandt-Brauer-Frick) in our Renegade Classics evening on 6th Dec. Or reinterpreting romantic-classical songs (Lisa Hannigan, Sam Amdidon) in the Schumann Street weekend 9/10th Dec.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir on the other hand is on the way to becoming an established composer, but has not been heard so much in London. I feel her music will resonate beyond classical music audiences, and especially in context with our other composer: Claudio Monteverdi. Her already cult or signature work “In The Light of Air” will receive its UK premiere and also suits the London Contemporary Orchestra's approach very well: they will transform Shoreditch Church into a meditative deep-listening space via two attendance-restricted intimate performances, one a late-night show at 1am on 8th December.”

How does it feel to be the artistic curator for Spiltafields Music during its 40th anniversary?

ADR: Absolutely great! there's a feel of building on its history of presenting old and new commissioned work in an equal setting, as well as a new departure, with new groups and emerging talent being included and showcased.

There is a definite interest in fusing the worlds of classical with electronic in this year's festival, why is this? To challenge the expectations of classical?

ADR: I'm in a way less interested to 'fuse', even though that may sound slightly surprising, but to - and I use that phrase again - to present different work in an equal setting, to build a sort of accessibility bridge in both directions. I am not interested in 'challenging' anyone really, just in facilitating the creation of new work that would have maybe not happened otherwise. Collaboration is a better term, or to have different performers taken similar or the same themes!

On the Spitalfields Music website it states the festival considers "raising questions about the ownership of creativity and art". What questions do you think need to be raised about ownership?

ADR: This relates to our touching on the legacy of the band Fugazi, and their ethos which will resonate through the collaboration with visual artist Mark Titchner highlighted on Thursday 7th but visible throughout the festival, and therefore also filtering into the Monteverdi Marathon and this Renaissance composer's Book of Love and War being performed.

The way I put it has more to with questions of artistic and creative independence which in the classical music sector do not get asked anywhere near as often. Ownership is much more clear-cut in classical music, but it's an interesting comparison, and Fugazi's rigorous approach to all these questions has really inspired me (and Mark) in how we want to do things.

Classical musicians aren't expected to take a political position, know what potent voice they have and sometimes are even told to better stick with what they do best, 'music' for the sake of it. We'll have Greg Saunier of Deerhoof join us who has recently been very courageous and vociferous about both the political situation as well as questions of ownership and justice in the music business and I am looking forward to throw his voice in the mix of our festival and discussions! His new compositions for solo instruments, based on Fugazi songs, will be premiered on 7th December as well...

For more information please visit the Spitalfields Festival website

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