Royal Ypriana Wind Band - Contrast & Connect


Our musical programme is centered around the concepts of contrast and musical connections. To the compulsory work ‘Fantasmagorie’ by Alexandre Kosmicki, we chose to add ‘A Brussels Requiem’ by Belgian composer Bert Appermont and ‘Angels in the Architecture’ by Frank J. Ticheli.

We can imagine the awe and horror, the excitement and the fear that early 19th-century spectators must have experienced when witnessing the seances of Belgian inventor Etienne-Gaspard Robert. Using his newly invented ‘Fantasmagorie’, he could bring images to life on a screen in ways that had never been possible before. Often using terrifying depictions of humans and fantastical creatures, he invoked very strong feelings and emotions with his audiences. One of the invention’s novelties was the possibility to make images grow bigger and bigger, giving spectators the illusion that the strangely transforming shapes on the screen were coming closer and closer, as if they would jump off the screen and enter the space.

In performing Kosmimcki’s Fantasmagorie, we experience how musical ideas are being transformed in contrasting ways all the time, growing and shrinking, being stretched in augmentation, turned upside down, … Many of these musical elements can be related to the repertoire of (French) classical music, but they are always seen (or heard) through the fantasmagoric imagination of the composer. The opening ‘crooked’ waltz makes clear from the outset that everything that is to come will be uncertain, ambivalent, keeping us on the edge of our seats. We embark on a journey along impressionist melodies, rhythmic accents, even a hint of an American Broadway musical (do we hear an echo of ‘An American in Paris’?). All these diverse influences and connections merge into a rollercoaster with exhilarating twists and turns, and many contrasts between the full orchestral sound and passages that are pure chamber music.

When the delightful melody of ‘Au Clair de la Lune’ is brutally overthrown by the gun-like trumpet signals near the beginning of ‘A Brussels Requiem’, the notion of contrast is transferred to another dimension. The juxtaposition of innocence and brutal violence runs through this spectacular composition which was created in response to the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016. With 35 people killed and more than 300 severely injured, this day left an everlasting impression on our country and the world. Throughout his composition, Appermont transforms and distorts the simple melody of the children’s song and combines it with newly composed material. A lyrical opening melody, an octatonic rising pattern in an irregular rhythm, a contemplative slow movement, and lots of virtuoso passages giving sound to the many emotions that were felt all over the world on and after this tragic day. Light (childlike innocence) and darkness (unjustifiable violence) are in a constant struggle.

We conclude our programme with a composition based on this stark opposition between light and darkness, and which also is connected to several other musical sources. Frank Ticheli found inspiration for his title in the famous opera building in Sydney: a building that, albeit very different from the Philharmonie in Luxemburg, shares a splendid white, curvy exterior architecture and a magnificent concert hall. Including a famous Jewish song, an ancient Shaker melody and a religious chorale, he composed an intriguing work in which the worldly darkness (expressed through rhythmically exciting original music) continuously tries to overpower the heavenly, angelic light. The composer indicates the precise dramaturgy for this battle in the foreword to his score. Musically, the contrast between different characters and the inventive integration of existing music makes this an exciting and appealing composition, in which the Angel of Light has the final say.

While listening to these three works full of contrast and musical references, we hope the audience will experience the same breadth and intensity of emotions as did the early spectators of the fantasmagorie. For this is the power of music: to blur the boundaries between reality and imagination, to combine opposing forces into one aesthetic experience, to turn horror into beauty, darkness into light, and above all: to connect.