Dutch performers on a musical voyage from Beethoven to modern
Tjeerd Top & Mariken Zandvliet in concert on
October 10 at 7 p.m. at the Golden Ballroom of The Colombo Plaza
"Technical competence and pure expression characterise the performance of the young Dutch performers", enthused a review of Tjeerd Top and Mariken Zandvliet's concert in San Jose (Costa Rica).

"Anybody capable of rendering every note with such clarity may rightfully call himself a full fledged soloist", were the words used by the Dutch press to describe Tjeerd Top's playing. Tjeerd Top started playing the violin at the age of eight. In 2000, he graduated with honours from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (Netherlands) after studying with Qui van Woerdekom and Jaring Walta. For his Master’s Degree he continued his studies with Alexander Kerr at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where again he graduated with honours.

Tjeerd Top was the first prize winner of the Dutch National Violin Competition- 'Oskar Back' in 2001. As a soloist Tjeerd Top has performed with several leading orchestras and conductors (Hans Vonk, Vassily Sinaisky and Peter Oundjian among them) in the key concert halls of Europe. He has made concert tours to Japan, South America and the Middle East. From January 2005, Tjeerd will be working as the First Assistant Concertmaster of the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.

French-born Mariken Zandvliet made her debut as a soloist at the age of 14, with the "Gewestelijk Orkest" of South Holland. In Utrecht, Mariken studied with Herman Ulhorn and obtained with honours her diploma of "Performing Musician". Later she studied chamber music and lieder, accompanying Norman Shetler at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Besides appearances as a soloist she has performed with various orchestras and chamber music ensembles and has toured Scandinavia, France, England, Germany, Morocco and China. She is also a member of the Bonnard Trio, the Trio Damase and the Basho Ensemble. Mariken Zandvliet teaches at the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam.

Tjeerd Top and Mariken Zandvliet have made successful tours to Indonesia, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Antilles and Argentina. The duo's repertoire varies from classical to contemporary music. They won a prize for their interpretation of a contemporary work written by the Dutch/Argentinean composer Carlos Michans. In February 2002 a CD was released with music of Carlos Michans, performed by Tjeerd Top and Mariken Zandvliet.

Their programme for the evening will include Beethoven's 'Spring Sonata', works of Fritz Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Schubert as well as some contemporary pieces.

Tickets priced at Rs. 750 inclusive of refreshments are available at the Sunera Foundation Office, 65, Rosmead Place, Colombo 7 from 9 a.m to 5 a.m. The main sponsors for the event are The Royal Netherlands Embassy and The Colombo Plaza. Electronic Media Sponsors are MTV, Yes FM and Classic Radio. Proceeds will be in aid of the Sunera Foundation.

They did reach the sky
'Turtles Will Never Fly', Sunera Foundation's latest
production went on stage on September 17,18 and 19
'Piyaambaa No-yethi Ibboh' may be translated as 'Turtles Will Never Fly'; and the phrase could well register as a hyperbolic figure of speech but, in the context of the performance by The Butterflies Theatre Company-Second Wing, this was possibly an interpretation and demonstration of 'the tyranny of empire being replaced by the illegitimacy of parliamentary democracy!'

The opening night of their recent stage-production under the aegis of the Sunera Foundation was on September 17 at the Bishop's College auditorium in Colombo. Their previous presentations such as 'Butterflies are Free' from 2000 onward were blatantly anti-war in sentiment, but this play was an attempt at taking a more inward perspective from a social point of view, which curiously reminded me of the title of one of composer Thelonious Monk's works from the late 1940s, 'Ugly Beauty' which was written during the 'reckoning period' following the conflagration of World War II.

'Turtles' was broad in scope and generous in depth (occasionally laboured in depiction), with the use of vibrant mime and urgent changes in wardrobe, employing stark choreography as creative responses ranged through pathos and comedy. Juxtaposed with sound effects, corny Tin Pan Alley tunes and serious musical fragments, this evocative satire lampooned the overarching paradoxes, the rampant commercialism of our times, bathetic trends, overweening media and the stunning failure of leadership.

The evening was episodic in its presentation; yet one could detect an intensive thread that linked much of the action, until in the final stages of the production, when with a frank, brutal and carnal gesture lay 'exposed' the sad and naked deception which is this much vaunted, gilded human ideal of democracy. The 'broken promises' and the edging out from pledges, the hideous imagery and choreography of crossings over the floor and hooliganism among 'elected representatives', societal fragmentation, bogus flirtations, suppressive tactics, commercial sponsorships and its weak sop of crass entertainment, endless parades of bloated personalities, wanton militarism and the tendency toward violence and even media-overload were scorned and caricatured with abandon.

All this and yet some in variously colourful and melancholic, fractured and whole, fluid and erratic and even ecstatic portrayal by young people courageous enough to overcome their limitation in size, shape, articulation, mental acumen, or vision. It was they who wished that the 'truth be told'- not their mentors working with Sunera! Thankfully no cloying sentimentality or irksome gimmickry was pressed on the audience to generate sympathy, but there were times when hardly a dry eye might have prevailed when all was done (and little actually said).

In determining whether this is therapeutic for the participants, one comes closer to the point that it must well serve as therapy for us. One young wheel-chaired performer speaking his eager mind afterward said: 'Uncle, we are on the outside of your world, we are hoping to have been able to communicate a small message. This message may have been heard by the few; but that is sufficient for us, for we are counted as outside the fringe. This evening, we have seen so many of the diplomatic and overseas community present. But where are our leaders?" Indeed- where?

Much of what is commented on above could account for mere rhetoric, except were one to know (appreciate) the background of the players, that would constitute the potent reality of the 'drama'; That these young minds and hearts are among the least fortunate in what could well be marginalized communities. Theirs is a permanent encounter with disappointment and despair.

Happily, they also possess an indomitable spirit that must be recognized. The other fact is that they would scarcely ever have had a chance to express themselves in any context save for this venture. It is therein and with this success that their aesthetic challenge offers its greatest meaning and exhibits a most persuasive triumph.

-Arun Dias Bandaranaike

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.