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La douce France

Report from the concert journey to France (July 13-27, 2018) by Mathieu Daniël Polak 

In July 2018 I have been on a concert tour to France. Thanks to the hospitality of the organizers of the carillon concerts it was for Ruth and me not only a work trip but a true holiday as well.

The first concert was scheduled on July 15. On July 13 we left the Netherlands and spent the night in Orleans. This city is best known for Joan of Arc, a girl that has played a decisive role in the Hundred Year’s War between France and England.

On July 14 we traveled to the region of Occitania. In the evening we arrived in the village of Sainte Croix. It is a picturesque village in the mountains. There, we were warmly welcomed by Gabriel Birague and his wife Mireille. They grow their own fruit and vegetables. We were richly treated to food and drinks. Mireille speaks Spanish what was very pleasant for Ruth.

Gabriel took us to Villefranche de Rouergue on July 15. At the carillon of the Collégiale Notre-Dame in Villefranche de Rouergue I gave a concert. At this day the finale of the World Soccer Cup took place. After the concert we saw the soccer game at a house of a friend of Gabriel. Because France won the Cup, I went up the tower once more and played the National Anthem of France. Once home in Sainte Croix, Gabriel opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the concert.

The surroundings of Villefranche the Rouergue is magnificent. In the village of Villeneuve we made a stop to buy baguettes. Every Sunday a market takes place in Villeneuve where people sell products from the region. At July 16, Ruth and I said goodbye and went to the east side (Rhone area) of France.

Because the next concert was due July 20, we had a couple of days of leisure time. We decided to settle down in Roanne, a city nearby Charlieu. In Charlieu the second concert took place. From Roanne we made a trip to Mâcon, city of birth of the French soccer player Griezmann. In Vichy we went shopping. We expected to find a lot of stores with Vichy beauty products, yet we did not find any of those.

At July 20 I gave a carillon concert in Charlieu. It was a tiny carillon with a range of two octaves without pedals. Opposite of what one would expect, it played really heavily. During the concert I needed plasters to cover a wound at the little finger of my right hand.

In Charlieu we met Jean Bernard Lemoine (JB). After the concert he drove with us to the village of Nâves Parmelan where we would be stationed during the upcoming concerts.

Just at the foot of the mountain we stopped and JB went in his own car. He guided us to the village of Naves Parmelan. We stayed in a little hotel named Chez Panisset. In this pension time stood still. The residence was offered to us by the concert organization.

July 21, I gave a carillon concert in Annecy. Because Ruth and I wanted to see the town, we went to Annecy quite early in the morning. The lake of Annecy is beautiful. It is not deep and the water is very clear. JB told us that Annecy is nearby Genève (Switzerland). Comparible to the concert in Villefranche de Rouergue, the audience listened and observed the concert in the tower.

Therefore, it was important to tell something about the music and carillon in between the pieces. The program which I sent needn’t be followed too strictly. I let some children play music with me as well. I hope my presentation brought new sponsors to the carillon of Annecy.

After the concert we went with JB to the top of the mountain. The mountain has a height of 2000 meter. On the top it is much colder than in Naves Parmelan. We were offered a dinner. Next to the restaurant there was a meadow with cows. The cows had bells on their necks. JB called those cows a traveling carillon.

Sunday July 22, we were invited by the family Lemoine to have dinner at their house. They prepared a vegetarian meal for us. (Ruth and I are vegetarians). According to French tradition, we brought the dessert. Ruth and I became fans of the French. They are very charming and elegant people with interest in others. They don’t like so much to speak English. Fortunately, I had French in High School so could manage to communicate.

After lunch we went to Lyon. At the city hall of Lyon (Hôtel de Ville) I gave a carillon concert in the evening from 21.00 to 22.00 o’clock.  The City Hall is a true Palace. There was a square with blue chairs. Many visitors listened the concert. I posted photos on Facebook. From the reactions I felt it was a big honor to play a concert there.

The day after we went to Taninges. I told the audience about the music in English and JB translated it into French. In the tower there is a museum about harmoniums and carillons. I tried a harmonium and it was fun doing so. JB likes Lithuania a lot and went several times to Lithuania to give carillon concerts. There are some posters and photos about Lithuania in the museum.

At July 24 we said goodbye to Jean Bernard Lemoine. From Nâves Parmelan to Perpignan is a half a day drive. In the evening I called carillonneur Laurent Pie and made an appointment to try out the carillon of Perpignan at the morning of July 25. I gave Laurent and assistant Marie a copy of my book Viva el Perú. Viva el Perúis a book with arrangements of Peruvian music. It is my tradition giving hosts books as a present for their hospitality. Head carillonneur Elizabeth Vitu was in Belgium so I gave Laurent one extra copy to hand to Elizabeth.

The concert ended with a piece which I composed especially for the carillon of Perpignan. My piece ‘Et je danse’ is inspired by a poem of Arthur Rimbaud. Thanks to Elizabeth, Et je danse will be published at ACME (American Carillon Music Editions).

After the concert we went to dinner. At the way back to the hotel we saw people dancing in the street. This dance is familiar to what I have seen in Barcelona. Indeed, Perpignan is nearby Barcelona and both are part of Catalonia.

July 26 Ruth and I headed for Germany to start a new adventure. France is a huge country. We drove 800 kilometers yet realized we had to find a place to stay the night even before leaving the border of France. We chose Metz which turned out a beautiful city at the border of France and Luxembourg; a worthy finale of our journey to France.

PDF of the Article: La douce France Article in English

PDF Article (Dutch): La douce France

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Concerts Aschaffenburg & Bonn

At June 3 I was invited by mister Wilhelm Ritter to give a carillon concert at the Johannesburg Castle of Aschaffenburg. The day before I visited my German students Georg Wagner and Ariane Toffel in Bonn who arranged a recital for me.  These two concerts are the opening of a summer of bells. Photos: A Summer of Bells, the carillon of Bonn Beutel and Aschaffenburg:

Summer Bells 2018

 

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K’doshim

Dabeir el-kol-adat b’nei-yisraeil v’amarta aleihem k’doshim tih’yu

ki kadosh ani Adonai Eloheichem

Drasha by Mathieu Daniël Polak

Parasha: K’doshim

Vayikra 19 & 20

Uilenburger Synagoge Amsterdam

Friday April 27, 2018

The meaning of the Hebrew word Kadosh, set apart, becomes especially clear in Vayikra 20:26: ” because I, the Eternal, am holy and have distinguished you from the other peoples to be my people. ”

The text of K’doshim in my opinion consists of three components namely: Vayikra 19: 1-2, Vayikra 19: 3 – 20:25, Vayikra 20: 26-27.

Component 1: HaShem states that the people of Yisraeil must be holy.” Be holy because I, the Eternal, your God is holy ” is an assignment. At that moment it is not entirely clear what sacred means.

Component 2: HaShem gives content factors that make up that holiness, such as respecting the Shabbat, not stealing, not deceiving, respect for older people and loving strangers like yourself. With these rules the concept of holiness is described.

Component 3: it becomes clear what these rules lead to is the distinction between the people of Yisraeil and the other peoples. The literal meaning of Kadosh, ‘set apart’, has become clear.

The idea of ​​setting apart plays a major role in Judaism. Immediately in the second chapter of the Torah is spoken about the seventh day (Shabbat) that is separate from the other six days. HaShem did not speak to the whole people but took Moshe apart and gave him an assignment to bring the people to the promised land. Even in the sentence in K’doshim ‘Be holy because I am holy’ makes a distinction between you (the people) and I (HaShem).

The Dutch word heilig (holy) seems to mean something completely different from the Hebrew word. Holy refers to healing, making a whole, perfection. Then in my opinion the assignment would be: ” Be in balance, pay attention to everything, take care of yourself and the other person, be complete because I your God is everything and give the example to follow. ”Healing the broken world, the Tikkun Olam, is a Jewish mission. In that sense, the Dutch meaning of Kadosh is also very beautiful. The content factors of component 2 are universal. I assume that the obligations that are mentioned apply to all people around the world. Everyone probably agrees that stealing and cheating is wrong.

Is the emphasis on sacred in the sense of whole or is the emphasis on setting apart? Or could it be that it does not exclude the other? Can you also find ‘kadoshitty’ (setting it apart) within the frame of holiness (thinking from the whole)?

I find the answer in music. All content factors of music must be represented in a composition. By content factors I mean: melody, chords, counter lines (counterpoint), rhythm, play movement, form and tone color.In all the compositions of the great masters you can immediately point out how the melody lines run, what happens rhythmically and what form a piece has. Often one of the content factors stands out. For example, in a piece of music that can be danced, the melody will usually be measured. Of course, you do not want to stand still during the dance to listen to the melody. All content factors are in balance with each other and ensure that the composition as a whole is convincing.

For me as a composer it is very important that a work forms a whole. During composing, I check permanently whether the content factors are represented and related. In any case, it produces a ‘good’ piece that carries a certain form of uniformity because I adhere to rules and laws that apply to all composers. Still, I hope that my music differs from other composers. If all goes well, you will hear who made the piece. Even if you have composed something in the style of someone else, you can still hear that not one, but the other has composed the piece.How is that possible? How can you compose a whole, based on existing rules that is still different from other documents?Or: how is it possible that one baker makes very different tasting sufganot than the other,even if they use the same ingredients? The key word seems to me to be Neshomme (Hebrew Nefesh: living being). It is the inspiration that is needed to come to a unique piece. Everyone is unique because everyone has a unique and irreplaceable soul. In Genesis 2: 7 man becomes a living being because God gave him breath of life). Breath, soul and life seem to be connected to each other. In Kedoshim, however, it is not so much about the individual person, how they set themselves apart from the other person, but about how a group distinguishes itself from another group.

The Mishnah (book in which views on Biblical texts are included, part of the rabbinic literature) tells us that an owner of a vineyard is not allowed to place a bucket under the vine in order to catch the fallen fruit (peret). Vayikra 19:10 teaches us that the fruit that falls is destined for the poor. Placing a bucket under the vine would mean stealing from the poor. This approach to the concept of ownership and how ownership can lead to theft, but above all the responsibility that ownership brings to fellow human beings seems to me even more important than the assignment ‘you will not steal.’ The point I want to make with the above example is that how much the rules of holiness may be universal, its framing, the way the rules are interpreted, makes the distinction between one and the other people. Rabbi Norman Lamm writes in his book Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – ” sefer Torah is not sacred in and of itself, but only because of what we get from it and the attitude we take towards it.’’ I subscribe Lamm’s opinion that the Torah itself is only sacred when you know how to read and apply it in your own life. Everybody gets something different from the Torah. For one the Torah is a law book, for the other a history book and again for the other a music book.

The parasha K’doshim can also be read in many ways and how you read, understand and apply the text makes every person unique.

In addition to reading the Torah, thinking, fantasizing, interpreting and reading explanatory writings is indispensable to get a grip on the concept of holiness. During the writing of my drasha, in a fantasy I saw a laughing sun several times.It was a bit of a childish image of the sun and with some imagination you would be able to see a Magein David with tzitzit attached to it. In itself it is strange that I saw this. Tonight, just before holding this drasha I suddenly understood why I saw this image. To be holy, you as a Jew must fulfill mitzvot (commandments). In k’doshim we read that fulfilling mitzvot leads to holiness. The command ‘Be holy’ means: ‘Fulfill the Mitzvot.’ Yet, the sun shines and warms us already, man has already obtained heat, life, light and holiness from HaShem. You could therefore see the mitzvot as paying with your credit card. You get the product (holiness), the bank (HaShem) pays for it, after some time you will pay back HaShem with mitzvot (good deeds).

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Concerts 2018

June 3, 2018: Aschaffenburg (Germany): Carillon Concert Aschaffenburg

June 30, 2018: Woerden (Netherlands): Carillon Concert Woerden 30 juni

July 6, 2018: Kopenhagen (Denmark): Carillon Concert Kopenhagen

July 15, 2018 Villefranche (France): Concert Villefranche

July 20, 2018 Charlieu (France): Concert Charlieu

July 21, 2018 Annecy (France): Concert Annecy

July 22, 2018 Lyon (France): Carillon Concert Lyon

July 23, 2018 Taninges (France): Carillon Concert Taninges

July 25, 2018 Perpignan (France): Carillon Concert Perpignan

July 28, Emmerich (Germany): Program Emmerich

July 29, 2018 Nivelles (Belgium): Carillon Concert Nivelles

August 25, 2018 Geldrop (Netherlands): Carillon Concert Geldrop

Biography Mathieu Daniel Polak

La biographie en francais

Program Notes on et je danse

Toelichting Programma Geldrop

Curriculum Mathieu Polak

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Brochure finale (ENG)

Brochure finale (FRAN)

Summer Bells 2018

Laurenstoren Weesp

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Spreekbeurt Carillon Laurenstoren Weesp 

 

1 Kennismaking met de beiaardier

Het is mij een eer en genoegen vandaag voor u een beiaardconcert te geven en iets te vertellen over het carillon van Weesp. Mijn naam is Mathieu Daniel Polak. Sinds 2008 ben ik de beiaardier van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Bovendien ben ik de beiaardier van de Markttoren in Spakenburg en ben als beiaarddocent verbonden aan Beiaard Centrum Nederland te Amersfoort. Een paar keer per jaar vervang ik de vaste beiaardier van Weesp, Bauke Reitsma. Het is inmiddels een traditie geworden dat ik op de Open Monumentendag een beiaardconcert in Weesp verzorg.

2 Het beklimmen van de toren

Voor mij is de beklimming van de toren een van de dingen die het bespelen van de beiaard zo bijzonder maakt. Sowieso kom je als beiaardier op plekken waar een ander nooit komt en iedere toren heeft zijn eigenaardigheden. In Misono (Japan) ging het er sjiek aan toe. Daar kon ik met de lift naar de speelcabine. Aldaar gaf ik een beiaardconcert in het kader van jongeren die de leeftijd van 20 jaar hadden bereikt. Voor hun wordt een feest georganiseerd dat Seijin no hi (meerderjarigheidsdag) genoemd.
Het beklimmen kan soms ook een avontuur zijn. In Goes mocht ik als beginnende beiaardier rond 1993 zelf ’s avonds de toren op om op het carillon te spelen. Ik was als pianist van balletexamens dat weekend in Goes en het leek mij geweldig om met de beiaardier mee te gaan. De beiaardier was zelf die avond verhinderd maar ik kon de sleutels ophalen. In de donkere toren kwam er plotseling een duif op mij afgevlogen waardoor ik de schrik van mijn leven kreeg.
Op de Erasmus Universiteit trek ik wekelijks een vlizotrap naar beneden om de speelcabine te bereiken. Op campus Woudestein bevindt zich een beiaard en een oefenklavier. Ik geef beiaardlessen aan studenten en medewerkers van de universiteit en geef iedere week een bespeling op woensdag van 12.30 tot 13.00 uur.
Het beklimmen van de Sint Laurenstoren in Weesp mag ook een avontuur genoemd worden. De metalen ladders zijn steil. Op Open Monumentendag bespeel ik jaarlijks het carillon van Weesp. Juist door die steile ladders is de toren niet geschikt om door groepen beklommen te worden. Gelukkig biedt een videoverbinding uitkomst. Zo kunnen bezoekers op de Open Monumentendag toch de bespeling van ‘dichtbij’ meemaken.

3 De cabine en klavier

In de speelcabine in de Sint Laurenstoren is ruimte voor de beiaardier en eventueel twee of drie gasten. De kleine vensters kunnen geopend worden. Die vensters maken bij mij een fantasie los dat er uit ieder raam een Middeleeuwse trompet zou steken. Deze instrumenten zouden dan samen met de beiaardier kunnen musiceren. Van de vaste beiaardier van Weesp, Bauke Reitsma, heb ik begrepen dat er in de toekomst een keer een samenspel van beiaard met andere instrumenten zal plaatsvinden.

Bauke bespeelt wekelijks op dinsdag van 11.00 tot 12.00 uur het carillon in Weesp. Onder zijn voorgangers bevinden zich beiaardiers als Gijsbert Kok en Wim Franken. Van Wim Franken zal ik vandaag een compositie op het carillon voor u spelen.
Ieder klavier is anders om te bespelen. Op de Erasmus Universiteit speel ik op een vier- octaafs instrument. De Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren in Amersfoort heeft naast een vijf-octaafs instrument ook een replica van een zeventiende eeuws klavier met pedalen die heel lang zijn en doen denken aan de pedalen van een orgel.

Een klavier bestaat doorgaans uit stokken die met de vuisten aangeslagen worden en pedalen voor de voeten.
De traditie van het spelen met de vuisten zal komen door het feit dat klepels, die bij de grote klokken behoorlijk zwaar kunnen zijn, door de beiaardier in beweging gebracht moeten worden.
In Weesp is er een klavier volgens de Waalrese variant. Dat betekent dat een drie-octaafs carillon de pedaalligging heeft van een vier-octaafs instrument. Omdat er betrekkelijk weinig carillons een Waalrese speeltafel hebben, begin ik mijn concert in Weesp over het algemeen met een eenvoudig stuk. Immers, inspelen zoals bij piano of orgel kan wegens het publieke karakter van het carillon niet.
In de speelcabine in Weesp is de ruimte ondanks de vensters toch tamelijk afgesloten. Om goed te horen wat je speelt, is het belangrijk om het venster in het plafond te openen. De klokken hangen pal boven de speelcabine.

4 De klokken

Het carillon van Weesp is samengesteld uit klokken van Hemony en Eijsbouts. Het laagste anderhalf octaaf wordt in hoofdzaak gevormd door klokken uit het jaar 1671 van Pieter Hemony. Pieter Hemony (1619-1680) en zijn broer Francois Hemony (1609-1667) waren de belangrijkste klokkengieters uit de 17e eeuw. Zij waren de eersten ter wereld die een zuiver gestemd klokkenspel produceerden.

Eijsbouts is de klokkengieter uit Asten die niet zo lang geleden wereldnieuws maakte door luidklokken voor de Notre Dame in Parijs te gieten.
Het carillon van Weesp is transponerend. Met andere woorden, je speelt een B maar hoort een C. Voor mensen zonder absoluut gehoor is dat geen probleem. Stel dat je als beiaardier samen zou willen musiceren met koperblazers dan moet je de partituur van de beiaardier of de partituur van de blazers zo transponeren dat de toonaard overeenkomt.

Ik vind het leuk om te vermelden dat er bij een restauratie in 1962 dertien oude klokken weliswaar buiten gebruik werden gesteld maar tien hiervan als sieraad bij het carillon werden gehangen. Deze sieraad is van buiten te bewonderen. Immers, de klokken van Weesp hangen in een open lantaarn.

Klokken uit de Gouden Eeuw staan in de middentoonstemming. In deze stemming wordt gestreefd naar zo natuurzuiver mogelijke grote tertsen. In deze stemming maakt het, anders dan in onze huidige stemming, een groot verschil in klank en sfeer of je in de ene toonsoort of de andere speelt. Nadeel van de middentoonstemming is dat er ook toonsoorten bijzitten die akelig klinken. Deze toonsoorten ga ik uiteraard tijdens mijn concert vermijden.

Naast de wekelijkse bespeling op dinsdag wordt het carillon ook op de Koningsdag bespeeld. In de zomermaanden worden gastbeiaardiers uitgenodigd om concerten te verzorgen.
Het bekend en hopelijk ook geliefd maken van het carillon kan niet zonder interactie tussen muzikant en luisteraar. Daarom is het fijn dat wij allen samen middels deze dag het nieuwe jaar inluiden.

Mathieu Daniel Polak, zondag 14 januari 2018

Weesp 14 januari 2018

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Music and Social Action

BLOEMEN NA HET CONCERT EN DE LEZING:

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FOTO TIJDENS HET CONCERT ZOALS BEZOEKERS HET ZAGEN OP EEN VIDEOSCHERM IN HET MUSEUM:

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Workshops Carillon elementary schools

To interest children for the carillon Stichting Beiaard Woerden organises workshops for elementary schools. The workshops are given by the principle carillonneur of Woerden Henk Verhoef and me. In quite some songs I let the children join by playing two notes. They also like to listen and guess which melody is played. Some play an instrument and are invited to play a little melody all by themselves. In 2018 at least ten schools will visit.

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Programma Basisscholen op de Beiaardschool

Children’s Songs for Carillon

Recently I am arranging Children’s Songs for carillon. One of them I already performed at the carillon of the Market Tower in Spakenburg. Do you like me to arrange a song you choose? I can prepare an arrangement, dedicate it to you, play it at a Dutch carillon and make a recording of it. Visiting the recital where I will premiere your song is also possible. You can already purchase an arrangement for 95 euro: mathieudpolak@hotmail.com or: danielmathieupolak@gmail.com

Examples of the arrangements:

Onder moeders paraplu

The muffin Man

Op een klein stationnetje

Zie Ginds komt de Stoomboot

 

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Onderzoekend Componeren

LEES HET ARTIKEL ALS PDF HIER: Onderzoekend Componeren eindversie

DE COMPOSITIE BEHORENDE BIJ HET ARTIKEL VINDT U HIER: Bagatelle

Concert Kaunas 

It is a great opportunity to give a concert in Lithuania. When Austeja Staniunaityte invited me to give a carillon concert, we spoke about the interaction between paintings and music. I told her I composed a carillon piece named Golden Clouds which I made for painter Joost de Jonge. He gave me a painting in return. The Golden Clouds composition could be regarded as the key work in the Kaunas program. I am happy that people will paint or draw during my concert and hope to see the new works of art after the carillon concert! If you do not draw or paint I still sincerely hope you will visit the carillon concert. It takes place at September 3 at the carillon of Kaunas. The program contains Dutch original carillon pieces, Lithuanian traditional songs arranged for bells, music from Israel and Greek music. Due to the countries of which music will be played, the title of the concert is Rhythms of the World. It starts at 12.00 o’ clock. Also recommendable are the other carillon concerts which take place at Saturday September 2 and Sunday 3 by carillonneurs from Belgium, Great Britain and Lithuania.

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A Summer of Bells

This summer led me to Spain and Germany where I could play the carillon. Special too was the chance to play the carillon of the Westertoren in Amsterdam. I entered a course by the Yale University to think about the role and function of the carillonneur in modern society. In September I will play a carillon concert in Kaunas – Lithuania. In this blog I selected some photos of this wonderful musical summer

Barcelona (Spain), mobile carillon, June 30, 2017 during the World Carillon Congress:

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Amsterdam – Westertoren (the Netherlands), July 18, 2017 where I played a program built from French chansons and Italian Opera music:

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Yale University – certificate course, July 22, 2017. I wanted to know more about the role and function of the carillon in modern society:

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Svendborg Denmark, August 2, 2017. First Ruth and I went to Kopenhagen, after that I gave a carillon concert in Svendborg at the Vor Frue Kirke:

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Wiesbaden (Germany), August 12, 2017. Ruth and I passed by the world’s biggest cuckoo-clock on our way to the Marktkirche Wiesbaden:

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Hannover (Germany), August 13, 2017. It was a pleasure the meet Wilhelm Ritter & Frau Anke Muller who were leading workshops of carillon playing in Hannover:

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Wurzburg (Germany), August 16, 2017. Wurzburg equals cities like Paris and London in beauty. I have a concert at the Neubaukirche der Universitat Wurzburg:

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Hahnenklee (Germany), August 17, 2017, a wonderful village in the mountains of the Harz region:

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Eppingen (Germany), August 27, 2017:

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Kaunas (Lithuania), September 3, 2017, during the World Carillon Congress 2017     I was invited to give a concert in Kaunas in September:

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Concert Kaunas

Many thanks to all Dutch, Spanish, German, Danish and Lithuanian collegeagues who invited me to give concerts at their carillons!