Astria Oboe Trio had already performed works of Ralph Vaughan Williams (Five Pieces on cd Variations) when Dimitri Mestdag discovered his vocal music. Dimitri had the idea to turn a selection into a production with a soprano. Erik Desimpelaere, who was contacted for the arrangement, pointed out the need for an additional instrument to introduce more colour and harmony. He set to work after Dimitri’s suggestion to go for a harp. This is how Love Bade Me Welcome was born. The harpist is Anouk Sturtewagen, who a.o. was a laureate of the Music Competition of Rotary Gent in 2005. The harmonious interplay of the feather light sounds of the harp with those of the melancholic ones of the oboes grant an extra dimension to the wonderful songs and folksongs performed by Lore Binon.
As early as in 2016 Dimitri Mestdag played with the idea to combine baroque and minimalistic music. He was convinced the confrontation of Bach’s oeuvre with that of Glass and Reich would generate a surprising added value; he made a selection and chose percussion in addition to the oboes for the performance of the music. The confrontation of the music on the one hand and the instruments on the other yields an unknown rhythm and enchanting richness of sound.
At the outset the percussionists were Dimitri’s collegues of Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; when they left Belgium, As One joined in, a Flemish percussion duo.
In the mean time the repertoire has matured and developed: work of Koetsier, Tabakova and Brossé have enriched this production.
The tessitura of the double bassoon, over the bassoon, the English horn, the oboe d’amore up to the oboe is comparable to that of the piano. The full spectrum of Astria Oboe Trio and HaftCraft is quite homogeneous because the instruments belong to the double reed family. This has been the fascinating basis for Arnold Kasar to arrange existing works for piano and adding new compositions. To do this, Arnold went to the Black Forest, his native region.
For his electronic music he almost exclusively falls back on sounds and software he has built himself. The result is alienating but establishes a link to the music of Henry Purcell, granting Shakespeare’s sonnets a astonishingly modern feeling, which makes them come captivatingly close.
Dowlands Lachrimae was perfectly suited for Astria Oboe Trio and HaftCraft, but how to turn it into a contemporary production? The Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits was chosen, having already composed for double reed instruments before. His creative work resulted in 7 Driftwoord Songs for a double reed quintet and archlute in the middle part. Along with the arrangements of Erik Desimpelaere, who introduced pauses for the 5 wind instruments in the old Dowland songs, it is an unforgettably colourful and rich palette for each instrument on its own. The music in combination with the video art of Mark Raidpere made it an international production and took Astria Oboe Trio up to Tallinn.
Thinking of music theatre Astria Oboe Trio asked Erik Desimpelaere to compose music for a children’s performance. Erik chose the fairy tales of Godfried Bomans as they also address adults because of their archaic style and the many double meanings. The combination of storytelling and music creates an atmosphere of “leit motives”, a filmic opera approach whereby the fairy tales are being translated into sound.
There are 6 self-contained fairy tales; too many for one performance, but they can be combined in a flexible way, depending on the target public.