IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS

IVY

IVY started life as an orchestral soundtrack project called The Sea, The Sea, after Iris Murdoch's 1978 novel of the same title. Having read it some 20 years ago it made a huge impression on me, and I always felt that I wanted to do something with the book. As I was working on this project, new ideas developed, and the focus of the album started shifting away from Murdoch's book. I started thinking more about the protagonist in Kate Chopin's 1899 novel The Awakening (another wonderful novel set by the sea).

At the same time, the orchestral arrangements that I had made for some of the pieces were stripped away, until all that remained was the voice of the piano. Though some of the pieces on IVY were inspired by both books mentioned before, I felt that as a collection, they belonged to a third, untold story: IVY. 

I feel that IVY is a story set during 24 hours near the seaside. I see the names that I have given to these pieces as chapter titles of IVY's story. But who or what IVY is, and what that story is, I will leave to the imagination of the listener.

"If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty."
- Junichirō Tanizaki

ABOUT IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS

I grew up in the rural north of the Netherlands - a landscape dominated by lakes, fields and forests. The small community I lived in had its own fanfare orchestra, which I joined. After playing several years in the brass section (flugelhorn, euphonium and even bass) I taught myself to play the baritone saxophone.

It was around this time that I also started showing an interest in writing my own music, thanks to the support of our wonderful conductor. I played in a small sax group for which I wrote many of the arrangements, and we performed anything we liked from Bach to Björk.

After graduating from the School of Fine Arts in Kampen, the Netherlands, I ran an art gallery in my home town, where I started selling my first forays into electronic music. Little conceptual records were produced and packaged completely in house, featuring original compositions and artwork. It was on the back of one of those albums that my music was used in the documentary Drona & Ik by Catherine van Campen. Another track formed the basis of a single release with the wonderful Indian classical singer Shubha Mudgal, leading to a further commission by a New York based dance company.

Since 2006 I have made the beautiful city of York my home. It is from my home studio that I now write and record my music - music which is, in part, inspired by my earlier musical memories, and the landscape I grew up in.

On a visit to the Netherlands some years ago I stumbled upon Junichirō Tanizaki's wonderful essay In Praise of Shadows, first published in 1933. A lot of the sentiments towards light and dark seemed to resonate with my own ideas about art, beauty, and music. "If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty" Tanizaki writes. In music, this darkness is not only the more literal sound of bassoons and basses, but to me, it is also related to the absence of music. "The sounds are there to surround the silence" Arvo Pärt once told a conductor during a rehearsal of one of his pieces. The name In  Praise of Shadows is a reminder to me to embrace both light and dark, and see the beauty in both.