Flemish composer and musician Wim Henderickx trusts his intuition. It is through this intuition he has become successful at his craft with releasing albums, collaborating with different musical groups, and creating beautiful works of art. He is also a professor at the Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp and at the Conservatoire in Amsterdam.
Above all his work, he hopes that people remember him for trying to “bring people together through music, even if conflicting religions or philosophies were involved.”
Many of his works are influenced by oriental music and philosophy. He has written works for opera, music theatre, orchestra, choirs, wind band, and chamber music, adding steadily to the construction of his musical oeuvre.
Henderickx’s latest album, Nostalgia
The new album Nostalgia with Belgian ensemble Boho Strings and David Ramael showcases the composer’s versatility, whose repertoire ranges from experiments in modernism to nearly silent transcendent soundscapes.
Through revisions of earlier work as well as new works specifically for this project, it captures the progress in a career that spans three decades. Wim thinks it is important to offer digestible yet high quality new music, so working with a young and dynamic string orchestra was important for this project.
“The fact that there is very little attention in many schools and also in most (Flemish and Dutch) media to high quality art experience gives me the drive to try and help turn the tide,” Wim said.
Pulses of the Earth, Harp Concertino
For the debut of Youth Orchestra Flanders in February, Wim made a version of Pulses of the Earth for the line-up with premiere in Flagey in Brussels in February. Pulses of the Earth is about the elusive and the supernatural. Rhythmic pulsations and an enormous drive are the characteristics of this work. It is an up-tempo composition that explodes in a huge climax in the final part, in which the orchestral musicians also shout out rhythmically. The climax can be seen as a volcanic eruption.
This obsessive and direct music represents a kind of ritual in which Mother Earth and the forces of nature elements have a central role. The work is full of contrast in the orchestration, but always searching for power and color.
Pulses of the Earth is also the second part of Wim's larger work Symphony No. 2 (Aquarius' Dream) for soprano, orchestra, electronics and lighting design, which was commissioned by the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra.
A few days after this world premiere, Wim will be making another big release. At the moment, he is finishing his work Harp Concertino for the Symphonic Orchestra of La Monnaie/de Munt in Brussels. This work will premiere in February. It is inspired by the book of Revelation by the Apostle John, which is the final book of the Christian Bible, and by Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, which will both be performed alongside this world premiere.
The first part of Harp Concertino begins with doubt, introvert and searching, based on the main theme of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. The second part is a fervent allegro with rhythmic basic cells, referring to the concise motif from Beethoven's Fifth. The harp is used as a protagonist, as a connection between the spiritual and intellectual worlds.
“The harp is not only a coloristic, dreamy instrument as is often the case, but also is an enormously powerful instrument, with many expressive and virtuoso possibilities,” Wim said.
Wim Henderickx’s other upcoming projects
At the request of the International Opera Academy in Ghent, he is reworking two of his earlier stage works to develop a new and challenging concept. Titled A Matter of Triumph and Void, this project brings together two of the main stage works of Henderickx. Serial techniques and modality are used in Triumph of Spirit over Matter. Eastern Music and philosophy are a source of inspiration for Void. The combination is a very interesting mix of music, words, and sounds. This event will take place in May.
Furthermore, Wim is creating a biennial collaboration with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra regarding the annual summer composition course SoundMine. He will conduct the ASO with a selection of works by these young composers at deSingel in Antwerp. Then in July, it will be the 20th edition of SoundMine.
Not to be slowed down by world premieres and projects, Wim also is working on a large-scale opera commissioned by Opera Ballet Flanders.
Improving classical music
Wim thinks that the format has to change in order to improve growth of classical music audiences. The concert halls should be more flexible and adapted to the current time, with adding loudspeakers, the possibility of variable setups, and use of video, as examples.
Also, orchestras and ensembles often play recurring and “safe” programs, and programs should be more challenging.
“Give people a fascinating explanation at the beginning of a concert and some personal insights— with of course a nice joke—and they will be more inclined to understand and enjoy the music,” he said.
The encouragement doesn’t just extend to adults, as children should be encouraged and helped in their musical and artistic needs from an early age. There should be more possibilities in schools to make music together, and for this, we need enthusiastic and highly educated musicians and pedagogues.
“This requires an investment, but research has already shown that other school performances improve when children sing and make music daily,” he added.