Dutch composer Chiel Meijering grew up with both Classical and Rock music (among other things, like playing piano in a Salsa band). Many guitarists know his music as a composer for the Amsterdam Guitar Trio in the 1980's. In addition to writing operas and music for the theater in the last few years, Chiel has written more than 50 pieces for American guitarist Keith Calmes and Chiel's own musical sequences. This is the first collaborative album of Chiel Meijering and Keith Calmes.
Thanks to the baby-boom generation that grew up in the 50's and 60's a world revolution took place. For me the sixties were a first encounter with pop music. My older brother had bought a transistor radio from the money he earned with his 1st vacation job and we listened to the pirate stations, broadcasting from ships lying outside the territorial waters in the North Sea (Radio Caroline, Radio Veronica, Radio North Sea International)
The Amsterdam Guitar Trio performed Chiel Meijering's “Miss Garcia Doesn't Ring Anymore” at my university in Los Angeles during the mid-1980's. My jaw dropped. The musicians frantically strummed Rock power chords with perfectly executed Stravinsky-esque rhythms, flew through an array of special effects, and even stomped their feet and yelled at the top of their lungs! Finally, I had discovered a composer who got it! “Miss Garcia Doesn't Ring Anymore” embraced the best of Classical music and Rock, and wrote "art music" that sounded as intense as I felt. The trio's recording of Meijering's music, Two Men and a Lady, cemented my adoration of Meijering's music.
It took more than 20 years to get brave enough to ask my favorite composer to write something for me. When first approached, in August of 2010, Chiel said that he was on vacation in France and was not interested in writing for guitar anymore. I assumed that this his polite way of declining my invitation. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later, when Chiel sent an email which included an mp3 file and guitar part to a new virtuostic masterpiece for electric guitar and tape called “Where is John McL?” (written as an homage to guitarist John McLaughlin). As if that wasn't enough, a second movement arrived a week or two later. A third movement arrived a few days later. The pieces keep coming; I'm just struggling to keep up with this incredibly prolific and imaginative composer who speaks so vividly of these times.
Chiel Meijering was born on June 15, 1954 in Amsterdam. He studied composition with Ton de Leeuw, percussion under Jan Labordus and Jan Pustjens and piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. Meijering has an enormous output of works. He has written over 700 compositions so far, for almost any instrumentation imaginable. A main focus has been on various small ensemble settings. Many of these pieces are performed regularly in the Netherlands and abroad and were written for renowned chamber music ensembles, such as the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, the Mondriaan String Quartet, the Matangi String Quartet, the Sinfonietta Amsterdam (a concerto with celloplayer Pieter Wispelwey), the Amsterdam Guitar Trio, the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble and the new German ensemble Spark. Since the 2000s, Meijering has developed a growing interest in opera. The overwhelming success of his Alzheimer Opera, which was premiered in January 2006 at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ marked his breakthrough with a larger theater audience. "Alzheimer" was quickly followed by several productions, such as "Styx", "De keizer is knetter" (The emperor is Beserk), "Grenspost Zinnenwald"(Borderpost Zinnwald) and "Blauwbaard"(Bluebeard). Furthermore he has received a commission by the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble in cooperation with Concertgebouw Amsterdam for a short opera for children, which will be performed in front of about 5000 children within four days in 2012. Some of the songs in the opera will also be sung by the children as part of an educational project. A double celloconcerto for the Cellobiennale 2011 in Muziek Gebouw aan het Y conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, with famous cellists Anssi Karttunen and Doris Hochscheid. A very strong characteristic of Meijering's works is a large variety of styles. Without any difficulty, he seems to move between different musical worlds and genres, and thus creates a different texture for each of his works. Some of them remind the listener of pop, jazz or world music; others are written in a classical tradition or show avant-garde elements. Meijering is driven by spontaneity. All kinds of emotions and experiences that arise during a day, may directly flow into the composition he is working on. Meijerings works always have programmatic titles, sometimes funny or provocative or fooling around with toilet or sex humour. Examples include "I Hate Mozart" (for flute, alto saxophone, harp and violin), "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana" (for alto saxophone, marimba, piano, harp, and violin), "If the Camels Don't Get You, the Fatimas Must!" (for solo violin), "When the Cock Crowed His Warning" (for two recorders, viola, cello and piano), "GangBang" (for large orchestra and electric guitar) and "Background-Music for Non-Entertainment Use in Order to Cover Unwanted Noise" (for four saxophones). This philosophy goes back to the 1970s, when he tried to separate himself from the all to pragmatic and dry practice of most of his colleaugues, naming their pieces "Sonata No. 33" or "Symphonie No. 15". Now that he has reached the middle of his fifties, Meijering's titles - as well as his music - are experiencing a shift to the more romantic and poetic side: "NightbeastCry" (for toy piano), "The house with paper walls" (for viola and harp) or "Blue shadows flower into light" (for saxophone orchestra and two pianos). Meijering has found a large public not only in the Netherlands, but also on international stages. His music shows high artistry and still remains catchy and accessible for a broad audience. This is a very rare combination in the contemporary music scene and has helped Meijering to establish himself not only within the serious music circle, but also and foremost in the international classical music scene. Even Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands outed herself as a huge lover of Meijering's music, when she ordered one of his compositions for a festive concert on the occasion of her 60th birthday. Without any doubt, Meijering can be described as one of the most popular and famous voices of contemporary Dutch music.
Called a “master musician” by Guitar for the Practicing Musician Magazine, Keith Calmes earned degrees in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California, California State University Northridge and The Juilliard School. As winner of the Artists International competition, Keith gave his Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1992. Mel Bay Publications has published several of his books, including “Guitar Music of the 16th Century” and “Gospel Favorites for Classical Guitar”. During the last few years, Keith's performances have included lecture-recitals at the national conventions of the American String Teachers Association and the Guitar Foundation of America, concerts of the complete solo guitar works of Heitor Villa-Lobos, concertos with Monmouth Symphony, and the premieres of many solo works. Recently presented with an Outstanding Educator award from The College of New Jersey, Keith teaches guitar at Wall High School in New Jersey. Keith plays Reverend electric guitars, Godin electric classical guitars and an acoustic classical guitar designed in collaboration with luthier Kris Barnett.
Vagabond Steve was the inspiration for the piece Happy Smiley Faces, and his voice is featured on the track. Vagabond Steve is a brilliant philosopher of the internet age. You can experience his work on his Youtube channel, just search for Vagbond Steve.