II. Every Journey has a First Step…
The road to October 24 has been a long one. My first proposal to anybody about the project that would become the Great Noise Ensemble performance of De Materie came in late 2006, when I approached the cultural liaison at the Dutch Consulate in New York (at the time a man named Cees de Bever, who has been an extremely supportive advocate for this project, but who has moved on from government work to take on a position in The Netherlands) about organizing a festival of events (I am nothing if not ambitious!) around the commemoration of Louis Andriessen’s 70th birthday in 2009. Obviously, a festival did not materialize (no pun intended—okay, maybe a little) but a seed had been planted. When, in 2008 the Music Center at Strathmore, a major performance venue in the D.C. suburbs announced a call for proposals for its 25th anniversary season, Great Noise Ensemble proposed a performance of De Materie. Unfortunately, because of the economic realities that hit while that contest was taking place, the Strathmore decided to go with a more commercially viable project, but they informed us that they liked our proposal very much and would like to keep it on file for a later season. We then explored the possibility of taking it on in 2010-11, but their projections for ticket sales for such an event were not encouraging and they, unfortunately, had to decline De Materie at this time, booking us instead to do a performance of music by Marc Mellits in their more intimate performance hall in January, 2011.
My dream of performing this piece sometime around Louis Andriessen’s big birthday year seemed to be slipping away from me. Then, I mentioned the project to the head of the Music Department at the National Gallery of Art, who has been a great supporter of Great Noise Ensemble for a number of years now, and who found that he had room in his schedule and his budget, given the pledged support from the Dutch consulate, for this project.
The road I’d embarked upon now had a clear destination.