About my compositions

In addition to my own projects (you can hear them elsewhere on this site), I also compose for other groups and projects. Audio of my last much-acclaimed opera Hildegard is unfortunately not yet available, but listen in the meanwhile to my piece ‘The more you see, the less you speak’ , for voice and the New European Ensemble (2017). Or scenes from the opera ‘Roodhapje’ (Little red riding hood, winner of YAMAward ‘Best Opera’ 2016), my string trio ‘Cells’ for Prisma Trio (2015).

When I was about 25, I discovered Turkish folk music. This was an important moment in my musical development: it clarified a special love I had always had for modal music (with melodies based on modal scales, rather than on harmonic movements). The same modal approach I already loved in medieval music, and for instance modal jazz of the ’60. This sense of melody and rhythm plays an important part in my work.

In recent years my approach to composition has taken a chromatic approach, by juxtaposing different modes, mixing different colours as it were. I like to explore the region where modes meet contrasting elements. Sometimes I work with a precisely defined structure (as for instance in The more you see, the less you speak), but depending on the project, I might decide to work from a motivistic, freer approach.

Another thread in my work is a theatrical approach to music. I love composing opera and music theatre, both for adults and children. And even if it is not downright music for theatre or silent film, I always like to add a theatrical component to the performance of my pieces.

Hope you enjoy the music!

Familie van Nielie

The Familie van Nielie is a theatre production for youth by Kwatta and Oorkaan, december 2018 – march 2019. The story is about a family who magically gets transported to a camping side in the summer time. The son receives a surprising birthday present: a mansize robot. With the robot he is the man to hang out with, but the robot is soon broken, and the boy feels very lonely. He decides to crawl into the robot, and act as if it is fixed again. Philosophical questions about what is real form the main thread of the performance. Musically, the bass clarinet and marimba that accompany the robot transform into two cheap shaky casio’s with the same sounds.

Wie ben jij nou helemaal?

The more you see, the less you speak

This is a composition I wrote as an assignment for the Oriental landscapes Festival in 2017. The arab lyrics are by Al-Niffari, a 10th century mystic, who in fact was not too fond of words. Thus the phrase for which he is perhaps most known: ‘The more you see, the less you speak’.

Al Niffari believed that the mystic voyage kept you in certain stages for a while. In my piece, the listener travels through seven stages, starting with bitonality, going to various stages of  even three tonalities/modalities, finally ending in a unisono melody in the arab maqam of Bayati, touching on silence.

The recording has been made live at the Bimhuis Amsterdam in june 2017, by the New European Ensemble with special guest the Syrian/American soprano Dima Orsho.

Roodhapje

60 min youth opera performed by Holland Opera, december 2015. Leonie van de Wal (Roodkapje), Madieke Marjon (Mother/Grandmother), Niek van Idelenburg (Wolf), children’s choir, Jurgen Burdorf (guitar), Christiaan Saris (vibrafone, marimba, glockenspiel, drums)

NRC **** ‘De eclectische muziek van Steven Kamperman rockt stevig maar bezit ook mooie, raadselachtige cantilenes’

Volkskrant **** ‘De voorstelling is allerminst kinderachtig (…) De composities van Steven Kamperman klinken behoorlijk grimmig’

Theaterkrant **** ‘Eenzelfde gelaagdheid vinden we ook terug in de muziek van Steven Kamperman. Die schiet van klassiek (de moeder) naar rock (Roodkapje) en blues (de wolf), maar voegt daar ‘rare’ maatsoorten en toonladders aan toe. Het is uiterst effectief, ook voor kinderen. Is een aria van de wolf melodisch, dan volgt meteen een dissonant akkoord als de wolf zich voor de zoveelste maal verspreekt en Roodkapje Roodhapje noemt.’

Look here for a trailer


 

From scene 1 – Word has it that the Wolf is around; Roodkapje and Mother panic; aria of Mother regretting that her daughter grows up too fast.

From scene 2 – Wolf talks to his imagined friend ‘Waterwolf’ in the mirroring lake; Wolf meets Roodkapje

From scene 3 – Wolf is angry and sad because his friend ‘Waterwolf’ never actually joins him to go back North.

From scene 5 – the escaped Grandmother and Roodkapje (pretending to be sisters of Waterwolf) have lured Wolf back to the lake again, to make him visit Waterwolf’s family beneath the water – and make him drown with his heavy bag in which he supposes Roodkapje and Grandmother still are.

Cells, String Trio in three parts, 20 min, 2014

Live recording, premiere 16th of december 2015 by Prisma Trio at Splendor Amsterdam.

‘Cells’ is the 20 min sequel of the string trio ‘DNA’. In Cells, a tiny flexible melodic cell of five notes is born and starts to develop into different forms and configurations, synthesizing organically in part 3.

Gagarin knows (the blues is everywhere)

Commissioned by Fonds Scheppende Toonkunst for Bigband Tetzepi, performed live at the Bimhuis, EBU Jazznight december 2005