Composer Bernardo van Bemmelen at the Summer Concert

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bernardo van bemmelen

The Prince Claus Conservatoire closes this season with a showcase concert which will take you on a musical journey through all departments of the Conservatoire. Bernardo van Bemmelen composed Lightsong, a piece of music for five string instruments. It will be performed on Friday 5 July at the Summer Concert of the Prince Claus Conservatoire, in the Main Hall of Spot/De Oosterpoort.

Bernardo van Bemmelen is studying Composition and Music Production. The half-Spanish, half-Dutch second-year student moved from Mallorca, where he grew up, to the Netherlands five years ago to study Physics. After graduating from the University of Groningen, he followed his other passion: music. For the Summer Concert of the Prince Claus Conservatoire, he composed Lightsong, a contemporary classical piece for five strings. "Lightsong started with a musical idea about the perception of time," Van Bemmelen explains. "I wanted to investigate what happens when the pulse goes a little faster at a higher pace, but with long notes. The piece is about experience, you follow something that goes through extremes, from very slow to very fast, until it bursts. It's an abstract idea about something that continues even though it's not processed. Think of emotions or pain. With the fast passages, the pain is hidden, but in the slow ones you can hear more and more clearly what is happening inside. The abstract ensures that it can be applied in all kinds of areas. The world that is suffering, the climate, but you can also interpret it as psychological suffering. That's the beauty of an abstract concept, everyone can fill it in for themselves."

Theory of relativity

Even though the composition is called Lightsong, it was not Bernardo's intention to compose an easy listening experience. "Lightsong is meant to be a bit ironic. It was born from the idea of time, of light. With my background in physics, I am of course familiar with Einstein's theory of relativity, which describes how time and space are dynamic and inextricably linked into a single whole. In Lightsong creates a difference between you and time. You’re going from one perception to another," explains Van Bemmelen.

Beauty in knowledge

Bernardo doesn't call his physics studies a direct source of inspiration, but it has enriched him as a person. "You can see beauty in that knowledge. I can use that knowledge as a breeding ground for my contemporary classical compositions. I get my inspiration mainly from my own life, other art and other music. There is always music at the Conservatoire and there are fantastic musicians who want to play my compositions."

Contemporary composers

Bernardo composed Lightsong for a string quintet: two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass. It is a classical piece, but a contemporary one. "We live in a time where classical music can be influenced by any type of music because we have full access to the entire world catalogue. You can compose within any historical, cultural or artistic context. For me, classical music is largely about art with sound as its basis. It's not so much about a waltz or a mazurka anymore, but how far you can stretch sound and express new contemporary experiences. That is why this tradition produces such experimental music. Anything goes!"

Comfort, hope and recognition

Bernardo wants to create his own voice, his own language, his own musical outlook with his music. "I feel that I still have to work hard to find my place in contemporary classical music, but also as a songwriter and musician. I want to make projects that are bigger than myself, together with others. I want that more than commercial success. I hope that people will benefit from my compositions and projects. That it offers comfort, hope or recognition," concludes Van Bemmelen.


All departments of the Conservatoire contribute to the Summer Concert: Classical, Jazz, Music in Education and Composition & Music Production. Curious about Lightsong by Bernardo van Bemmelen and other summery sounds with which the Prince Claus Conservatoire closes this season? There are still a small number of tickets available.

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  • Arts and Culture