Sef Thissen and Egbert Derix on a musical journey
In 2017 baritone Sef Thissen and composer-pianist Egbert Derix presented their song cycle ‘Wandern’, the first stage of a new musical collaboration. In early February, the complete cycle of fifteen songs was recorded in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam for a new album. In April the first concerts were held at Domani in Venlo and in Cambrinus Horst, both in The Netherlands. Thissen and Derix met in 2015 during a benefit concert for refugees.
Egbert Derix & Sef Thissen (foto compilatie Jan de Bruijn)
Both musicians are fascinated by the tradition of German song (Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, but also Falco and Grönemeyer) in which ‘wandern’ (walking, wandering, wandering) is a ‘leitmotif’. The choice of the German language and the acoustics of the Concertgebouw also fit “das Lied”. The cycle is largely based on poems by journalist / writer Jan Derix (1936-2009), the father of Egbert. Egbert Derix translated the texts into German and set them to music. It involves poems Jan Derix wrote in the period 1956-1958. Often written on a night shift on the editorial board of the newspaper where he worked. There are also German translations by Egbert of Dutch lyrics by singer-songwriters Ton Engels and Frans Pollux and also a poem by the Italian poet Mario Argante (whose family arrived in The Netherlands in the middle of last century) were translated Derix and put to music. Egbert also wrote new original poetry for the songcycle and a German poem of his brother, philosopher-writer Govert Derix, complete the project. ‘Wandern’ evolved into a nomadic adventure where many roads come together.
Jan Derix en Egbert Derix in 1969
Derix and Thissen experience it as an eclectic fusion of poetry, classical singing, piano, composition and improvisation. Both feel that ‘Wandern’ is one of the most inspiring and rewarding adventures they undertook so far. Thissen is known for his work with Opera 2.0 , appearances with the Vienna Chamber Symphony and the highly successful Viva Classic Live concerts. Derix is known for musical collaborations with, among others, Iain Matthews, John Helliwell (Supertramp), Eric Vloeimans, Renée van Wegberg, Marillion and Fish. Together with Gerard van Maasakkers he received the Annie M. G. 2012 Schmidt Prize for best theatrical song. His latest CD, Falco received unanimous rave reviews and was compared by the leading magazine Music Maker with the Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett.
Wandern receives raving reviews by the music press and public. There are plans to perform the songcycle outside The Netherlands. Sef and Egbert also are talking about collaborations with orchestras and choirs.
Filmmaker Ruud Lenssen made a documentary about the making of Wandern.
Wandern in einem verschneiten Wald