7 & 14 April 2024
Sur la Terre … Comme au Ciel

Poster Sur la terre comme au ciel. Design: Lisette Schenkels

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’ (Hamlet)

This spring Photonen brings you a new, fresh, exciting a cappella programme in French and English. Visions, desires, ambition and the pursuit of rapture and fulfillment expand in Sur la terre… comme au ciel our horizons.

Trancendence and Beauty

In intriguing choral music from the late 20th and early 21st century, classical compositional tradition and groundbreaking, sometimes transcendent ideas enter into an inspiring symbiosis.

“… a breathtaking account of a royal writer from Sumer who, against a background of war, expresses his love for a priestess…”

Composer Ton de Leeuw on À cette heure du jour

In Eric Whitacre’s Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, you can hear how Leonardo da Vinci is challenged in a dream to break free from the earth. The text occasionally cites from Da Vinci’s diaries, and does one hear a touch of Monteverdi there?

Renowned Dutch composer and musicologist Ton de Leeuw strove for a balance between Western compositional techniques and oriental philosophy, which resulted in À cette heure du jour (1992). According to his own words the text is “a breathtaking account of a royal writer from Sumer who, against a background of war, expresses his love for a priestess. After an introductory fragment depicting the heat of a summer’s day, a long invocation of the gods follows in order to implore their favors. The song, which resembles a litany, alternates with two slow and lyrical passages, in which his feelings for his beloved gain the upper hand.”

There are fresh and rythmic pieces like a hymn by Sisask, who was inspired by astronomy and created his own pentonic scale, based on the orbits of the planets, and Horizons (1995) by Peter Louis van Dijk. The latter was commissioned by the King’s Singers to write a piece for their South African tour. A glorious energetic hymn is Howells’ Regina caeli (1915), whereas Ils dorment by the young Dutch Utrecht based composer Diederik van der Laag renders total contemplation. He composed Ils dorment to a poem dating from 1915, by a French ‘war poet’.

In addition, you will hear beloved late Romantic choral works by the French composers Poulenc, Saint-Säens and Maurice Duruflé.

Playfulness, inspiration, beauty, nature, prayer, dance, love and poetry lift us up and add comfort and color to our lives.

The full programme can be found here.

Sunday 7 april 2024 – 3.15 pm – HAARLEM
Waalse Kerk, Begijnhof 28, 2011 HE Haarlem

Sunday 14 april 2024 – 3.15 pm – AMSTERDAM
Oranjekerk, Tweede van der Helststraat 1-3, 1073 AE Amsterdam
(crossing Van der Helststraat/Van Ostadestraat)

Presale € 18 / € 15,50
At the venue € 19,50 / € 17
Child up to 12 years € 10 (both online and at the venue)

Kindly note: We do not charge any administration fees. The discounted rate applies to student/CJP/Haarlempas/Amsterdamse Stadspas with green dot. Both city passes are valid for both concerts. The presale rate is valid until 11:59 pm on the day before the concert. You can purchase tickets online until 3 pm on the day of the concert. After that at the cash register at the venue, either by debit card, in cash or with your phone.

We are looking forward to your visit!

5 & 19 November 2023
Denn das Schöne…

Denn das Schöne – Design: Lisette Schenkels

The Amsterdam based chamber choir Photonen Vocaal Ensemble is preparing the concert programme Denn das Schöne… [For Beauty…] a quintessential German Romantic programme. Weltschmerz and lyricism, beauty, sadness and lighter feelings and wit resonate in breathtaking harmonies in compositions dating mostly from the 19th, some from the 20th century.

This a capella programme entails the wonderful Fünf Gesänge by Brahms, Wandrers Nachtlied by Diepenbrock and Nachtlied by Reger. Furthermore, compositions by Schubert and Schumann, Grab und Mond and Die Kapelle, for men and women seperately. Also the female singers join in the angelic terzetto Hebe deine Augen auf (Lift thine Eyes), from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, based on Psalm 121. A lighter touch is to be found in tongue in cheek choir songs about nature, that are full of schwung, that Mendelssohn wrote ’to be sung in the open air’ and Estonian cradle and work songs composed in the 20th century by Veljo Tormis. The latter are based on folk music, something that inspired many composers in the 19th century Romantic era as well.

Unsettling beauty
An exciting creation and Pièce the Résistance of the programme is Die erste Elegie by the renowned Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. This impressive, introverted yet expressive piece from 1993 is composed in a sonorous romantic style, and echoes elements from his earlier twelve-tone adventure. The German texts from the Duino Elegies by poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) ponders on the nature and essence of the angel, and therefore on that of man. ‘For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so, because it serenely disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible.’ The angel, making no distinction between the living and the deceased, unsettles and overwhelms us. Rilke refers to Greek mythology.

Photonen also reprises two works by Jeroen Spitteler: Kennst Du das Land wo die Zitronen blühn? a setting of a text by Goethe, and Wenn es nur einmal so ganz stille wäre, an intimate love poem by Rilke. In addition, Verborgenheit, a brand new piece by Spitteler on a poem by Mörike will premiere, thus completing his cycle of Drei Gesänge.

Conductor: Jeroen Spitteler

Sunday 5 november 2023 – 3.15 pm – HAARLEM – Waalse Kerk
Begijnhof 28, 2011 HE Haarlem

Sunday 19 november 2023 – 3.15 pm – AMSTERDAM – Oranjekerk
Tweede van der Helststraat 1-3, 1073 AE Amsterdam

CHOIR VACANCIES: We are looking for several good tenors, a bass/baritone and alto

Photonen wants to expand, but just a little. Are you a tenor, a bass/baritone or a low alto and a seasoned choir singer and do you have a working knowledge of the Dutch language? Then why don’t you take a look at our Zangers page, for you just might be one of the singers that we are looking for! If you are not this singer yourself, kindly consider if you happen to know one. We would be delighted to get acquinted. Weekly rehearsals in Amsterdam (near Station Zuid) on Thursday Nights.

Saturday 22 April 2023 –
From the Heart of Joy

Poster From the Heart of Joy. Design: Lisette Schenkels

Take a look at the flyer and our latest Newsletter (this time with a possibility to win an authentic Photonen tote) as well (Dutch).

Photonen presented From the Heart of Joy, a fine new progamme, featuring works by mostly English and some American composers. At the core of the programme are Benjamin Britten’s Five Flower Songs.

Photonen Vocaal Ensemble is definitely going for poetry this spring, presenting a balanced and wonderful a cappella programme with English poetry, in varying musical styles, from early music, to (late) romanticism and contemporary settings.

The Silver Swan by Orlando Gibbons and Weep, O mine eyes by John Bennet are two beautifully melancholic little renaissance madrigals, we would like to share with you.

Benjamin Britten’s sparkling Five Flower Songs bring a wide range of styles, emotions, and rhythms. Britten wrote these songs on the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of friends of his, a botanist couple. The predominanty centuries old poetry in these varied flower songs is about nature, yet a deeper layer comments on life itself and on various aspects of marriage, sometimes in a witty way.

Our audience can expect various settings of Shakespeare texts, by contemporary Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, like Come Away Death (Twelfth Night) and the excitingly intense Double, Double Toil and Trouble (Macbeth), but also Shakespeare settings by renowned English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in late romantic style. He, too wrote a choir setting of Come Away Death, and of more texts by Shakespeare (The Tempest, Midsummer Night’s Dream) that Photonen will perform. Vaughan Williams also is the author of the intimate choral song Silence and Music, of which the phrase  ‘… voices of grief and from the heart of joy’ rendered inspiration for the concert’s programme title.

The purest of beauty is to be enjoyed in The Bluebird by Charles Villiers Stanford, who happened to be a composition teacher to Vaughan Williams. Furthermore there are part songs by Edward Elgar and E.C. Bairstow, another piece by Benjamin Britten: Rosa Mystica, and some contemporary choral music from the United States, such as Good Night, Dear Heart by Dan Forrest and Heart, not so heavy as Mine by Elliott Carter, the latter to a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Saturday 22 April 2023 – 8.15 pm 
Waalse Kerk, Walenpleintje 159, 1012 JZ – Amsterdam