Music that gentler on the spirit lies

Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes

(Alfred Tennyson)

 

Stephen Westra, a Dutch composer and writer on music, lives in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He was born at Voorburg, near The Hague, and lived in Leiden, Basel and Freiburg (Germany). He studied composition at Utrecht Conservatory (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten) with Ed de Boer and Henk Alkema as well as history and musicology at Utrecht University.


C o m p o s e r 

Among his compositions are songs on German, Spanish, yiddish and ladino texts like  Berliner Nachrichten, Drei Inseln and Canciones del éxtasis; orchestral works (Pumps & Circumstances and Picasso Polka - the last of which was performed May 2010 at the Berliner Philharmonie); music for the piano (Sonata, Variations and various shorter works), chamber music (e.g. Oktett mit Singstimme) and theatre music. In the winter of 2005/06 he finished a cycle of 24 preludes through all keys for the piano which was premiered in October 2006 (arranged 2009 for violin/piano duet as well). It was followed 2008 by a second series. September 2006 his Variations for string orchestra were performed by the Hafnia Chamber Orchestra in Copenhagen and Esbjerg (DK). January 2011 in Amsterdam a theatreprogram, 'Geleidelijk verliest de mens zijn gedaante...' (Gradually a man looses his shape), was premiered with music by among others Westra (texts Daniil Charms). Recently premiered were Three Pieces for Flute, Clarinet & Piano op.31 (October 2011) and Small Pieces for Big Instruments for 2 and 4 cello's op.34 (April 2012).

Westra's music has been performed in some great halls in The Netherlands (Muziekcentrum Vredenburg Utrecht, Congresgebouw Den Haag, Muziekcentrum Frits Philips Eindhoven) and outside his native country (e.g. Japan, Ireland, Denmark and Germany). Names of the musicians and ensembles who performed his music are Fokel Bax, José Biermans, Gemma Jansen, Irene Maessen, Machteld van de Putte, Fanny de Ruiter, Josefien and Charlotte Stppelenburg (singers); Lisanne Soeterbroek (violin); René Berman, Marike Tuin and Frank Wakelkamp (baroque cello); Jaap Brackman, Isabelle van Dooren, Josje Goudswaard, Jan Paul Grijpink, Wijnand van Klaveren, Jan van Maanen, Charlie Bo Meijering, Bobby Mitchell, Irina Osetskaya, Maria Sobrino, Else Sterk, Willem Stoppelenburg, Naomi Tamura, Ariadne Verstegen, Marcel Worms (pianists); Rolf Buijs, Simon Casali-Krzentowsky, Bruno de Greeve, Jussi Jaatinen,  Alexandru Lascae, Jan van Maanen,  Bas Pollard, Otto Tausk and Mikhail Zemtsov (conductors); the Apeldoorns Symfonie Orkest, Arion Ensemble, Consonanti kamerorkest, Hafnia Chamber Orchestra, Heemsteeds Kamerorkest, Pulcinella Chamber Orchestra, Koninklijke Marinierskapel, Ricciotti Ensemble and the Utrechtsch Studenten Concert. 

Westra's works were broadcasted and put several times on CD. 


W r i t e r   o n   m u s i c   e t c.

As a freelance writer on music Westra publishes articles, interviews, program notes and CD-reviews in a diversity of periodicals and made contributions to some books. He writes on (classical) music as diverse as Bach and Britten, Zemlinsky and Johannes Verhulst, Mendelssohn and Chick Corea. He wrote for e.g. Het Brabants Orkest, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, concerthall De Doelen, the Gelderse Muziek Zomer, Het Gelders Orkest, MuziekGroep Nederland, Combattimento Consort, the Nijmeegse Stichting voor Kamermuziek, Storioni Festival, Klassieke Zaken and Carnegie Hall. He contributed to 'XYZ van de Klassieke Muziek' (Katja Reichenfeld, ed.). 

He has a column in 'deKlank. Tijdschrift van Philharmonie Zuidnederland' on subjects related - sometimes quite remote - to classical music as 'Brahms on the highway', 'Filmmusic and its tragic', 'Never become a member of the jury'. In 2009 he also wrote his columns for De Doelen, Rotterdam (collected under the title 'Maar niet voor Haydn' (But not fot Haydn)); since october 2011 he has a blog/column for Music Center Eindhoven (www.muziekgebouweindhoven.nl: extra). Apart from publishing on music, he at times writes about literature as well .

Westra works as an editor at the Frits Philips Music Center in Eindhoven (NL).