G.S.M.G. Bragi (Groningen, Netherlands): 'Ouverture Royale' [Royal Overture] for symphony orchestra and concert choir [2006-2007]
Het Rijnlands Lyceum Oegstgeest (Netherlands): Antigone [2003-2004]
Overture for Strings.
Sometime around december 2016, I was asked by Zjoly Onrust, the lead singer of The Dudettes, to compose some music for the opening of their 4-day music festival "House of Dudettes" 2017. With just little over a month of time to go until January 11, 2017, I started composing a piece for strings. Primarily for string trio, but with the options to add other players. By the time it was finished, I had asked violinists Steve Bradshaw and Laura Iwema to join the newly formed "Charles Belfor Ensemble". Soon thereafter, the Jeugd Orkest Groningen (Youth Orchestra Groningen) from the local school of music, decided to join us after I had asked them to do so. The premiere for this piece was be held on January 11, 2017, during House of Dudettes.
Sense of Duty - Fries Symfonie Orkest.
Not too long ago, Rogier Meijer, a friend of mine, encouraged me to start writing more music for an actual orchestra again. As he was a violinist for the Fries Symfonie Orkest (Frisian Symphony Orchestra), it made sense to compose it for one of their concerts. Therefore, I started composing in earnest, starting July 2016 and finished the first version during the first weeks of September. After some tips from their conductor, Gerhart Drijvers, I completed the final version not long thereafter.
The core of the piece revolves that around the idea that the sense of duty is almost like a perpetuum mobile. Even if setbacks occur and someone is disillusioned by them briefly, the sense of duty may get that person back on track. It's the musical journey from a calling to a desired end-result. Considering the theme of the piece, I decided to dedicate it to my grandmother, who has become 95 years old, this year.
The Frisian Symphony Orchestra, an amateur orchestra from the Netherlands, tried their best to perform the sometimes rhythmically challenging piece. You can listen to their rendition by clicking on the video below.
Marjoram's EP: Closure
By the time we decided to record our first proper EP, Marjoram had changed a lot. Guitarist and singer Kerwin Pauptit and cajon player Frank Vleeshouwer replaced our previous guitarist Niels Keizer and cajon player Herman Kuis in 2015. Because of that, our sound had changed dramatically. In order to reflect that, we made sure our debut EP had al new songs on it. We started composing in earnest by the end of 2015 and finally recorded the EP in August 2016. The music became a bit more emotional and powerful, resulting in the 4 diverse song on the "Closure" EP.
Will be updated soon. Check out Marjoram.nl for more info.
Music for the Spoken Word.
Work in progress.
Additional music for the "Fantasierijk" project.
Work in progress.
In the year 2014, I decided to broaden my compositional palette by composing tracks with a more industrial or electronic sound to them. With very first track being "Urban Tragedy", I set out to display emotion through the means of harsh electronic and industrial sounds. I still believe it is possible to convey something so human through something seemingly devoid of humanity. To further my own development, I started brushing up my knowledge on electronic dance music (EDM), intelligent dance music (IDM), electro and synthetic pop music (synthpop). I've posted the end-result of my endeavours on SoundCloud and Youtube during most of 2014-2016.
Additional music for Sevak Preet's mantra songs.
Somewhere during the first quarter of 2014, mantra singer and yoga teacher Jennifer Ann Fritts (a.k.a. Sevak Preet Kaur) approached me and others to record some mantra music with her. She had already prepared a repertoire, but was looking for ways to make the music a little more vibrant. With the help of Baz Laarakkers (bass guitar), Gurbatschan Singh (tabla), Martyn Zij (guitar), Morris Weijers (caisa) and I, we did manage to do just that. Each of us contributed in our own way to the synergetic outcome, which has been recorded for the first CD, Ek Ong Kar.
Music & Recitations
Additional music for Armand Wijskamp's songs
Armand wijskamp initially asked me to compose and perform an additional cello part for his song "Ain't a sad song". Primarily, because he wished to perform with a cellist, during the quarter-finals of the "Grote Prijs van Nederland". We did not win, but our collaboration took flight ever since. In the beginning, I mostly improvised along with most of the songs, but as we performed more and more, most of the things I played took on their definitive form. I do still improvise certain parts during live performances, however. As our journey has taken us from Poppodium Metropool to Parkpop, the music continued to grow in intensity. Some fruits of our labour can be viewed below.
Music for Computer Games
After some careful consideration, I finally decided to compose some music for computer games. I decided to test the waters by offering my services to beginning game makers.
A Closed-in Bomb: Available on Gamejolt, but still a work-in-progress. Completed the first track, Calamity, in November 2013. This track can also be looped infinitely.
Will be updated properly, soon enough. :)
Marjoram - Additional Music & songs
During one of the sessions of the Groningen Songwriters Guild, singer-songwriter Marike van der Meij asked me to accompany her while she performed one of her songs. During the impromptu concert, both of us noticed that her type of voice seemed to match perfectly with the timbre and range of a cello. Therefore, it made much sense to both of us, to start collaborating for a prolonged period, thereafter. And so we set out to do just that.
My initial, primary task was to come up with cello parts for several of her songs. After a brief analysis of her songs and style, I set out to compose a mostly, melancholically mellow, rather than melodramatic, accompaniment. The difference may not be apparent at first glance, but the point was to support the sound of her voice, without trying to overshadow her performance in any way. The end result became a mixture of a “second voice” and soloistic interludes. During the solos, I was given some space to express my own inner musical voice through improvisation.
After some time, Marike decided to expand the ensemble with additional instrumentalists. The guitarist Niels Keizer was asked to enrich the sound of her songs with more virtuosic passages and richer harmonic structures. Another addition to the team was cajon-player Harm-Jan Westra, who uses his insight in rhythmical patterns and structures to give the songs a steady pulse. During most of the band existence up until now, we struggled to find a suitable band name for the new ensemble. After some consideration, we finally adopted the name "Marjoram" as a band name, on November 6, 2012.
In order to give you and idea of what this combination sounds like, I'd like to direct you to the videos and music player below.
During a brief meeting in March 2012 with Aline de Jonge and Anneleen Hulshof, we discussed the possibility of me writing a 15-minute long piece for short film. As the talks progressed, the concept took shape, and we decided to tackle the endeavour in a slightly unusual fashion. The curious aspect of this endeavour was that the film did not exist, at first. The images/imagery is to be based on my music instead of the other way around. Aline and Anneleen will work on the imagery. Considering that I do not know the outcome, it will be a surprise for me as well.
In total, I had about 2 weeks to compose any meaningful music. However, against all odds, I managed to complete the score within 1 week. The entire score is a little over 15 minutes in length and has been written for a solo cellist and a string orchestra. During the premiere on April 26, 2012, I performed the solo cello part of an 8-minute long abridged version of "Cycles". The string orchestra consisted out of digital instrument or VSTi's.
The first 4 performances/viewing sessions were held in a private setting during Idiofest. In order to give you and idea of what it sounds like I have uploaded a full VSTi version of it.
Eric Bates & Charles Belfor - Images and Inspiration
Considering the fact that Eric and I have been acquainted for quite a few years now, it is very surprising that we've never attempted a collaborative endeavour before. Therefore, we put our heads together and figured that I could use his pictures for inspiration for a certain range of compositions. This is particularly interesting, because of the fact that he lives on the other side of the world and it would also be interesting to see the world as he knows it. The plan was to extract the essence of each of the selected pictures, so I could make a kind of musical paintings out of them. I tried doing so for almost 2 years. As all good things come to an end, this project has been laid to rest on May 1, 2013, with its last addition, Yggdrasil.
The following compositions have been created in this manner:
While discussing Eric Kondo's passion for motorcycle races, we came across the topic of making racing videos. Eric (a.k.a. Kazman) has acquired special cameras, which enable him to film the action from different viewpoints. They are attached to certain points on his motorcycle, in order to ensure a spectacular perspective. Anyway, in order to make those videos a little more special, Eric was looking for some intro music, which could go along with the videos and his personality. After some consideration, I came up with a theme he liked and worked it out to a first draft. Even though I intended to flesh it out a little, it started to grow on me in its original form. Especially when Eric included an introduction video to go along with it.
For obvious reasons, I decided to name the piece "The Condor". You can take a look at the intro video, by clicking on the link below.
"The Condor", Music for Brass and Percussion - Duration: 22s[MP3, VSTi] (May 2011)
Dusk - additional music
On May 5, 2011, I was contacted by Sven Jurgens, the drummer of Dusk, for another musical endeavour. He asked me if I could compose some additional music, which was supposed to go along with at least one of their songs. The instrument of choice was the cello, so we quickly decided that I should perform it myself.
I primarily used the flow of the songs to find the best melodic support. Considering that the cello would be one of the instruments accompanying the lead singer, I tried my best to find the balance between being a soloist and an accompanying instrumentalist.
The end result was finally performed on June 3, 2011, during the final round of the PopGroningen Talent Award contest. You can listen to the recording we made prior to that concert, by using the music player below.
Violin and cello part for Anna Ternheim's "A French Love"
The singer of the local band "Mary Jane" asked me to arrange a violin part to go along with Anna Ternheim's "A French Love". I was able to compose the violin part within a few days, thanks to
a good recording of the original song. The violin part consists out of musical ideas from the original, as well as those of my own. I also composed a cello part during the first rehearsal of the song, while composer/guitarist Eric Leenes provided a guitar arrangement based on the original song.
This arrangement would've been performed on March 5, 2010, but the first concert was cancelled due to circumstances. Not long after the cancellation, we decided to make a decent recording of the arrangement, so that others would be able
to enjoy it. You can listen to the recording by clicking on the link below.
"Anna Ternheim's 'A French Love'", arranged for Pop Ensemble- Duration: 4m 04s[MP3] (April 2010)
Performers/musicians: Marije Hijlkema (singer), Eric Leenes (guitar), Rogier Meijer (violin) and Charles Belfor (cello).
Joint project - Arjen Schippers & Charles Belfor
Ever since we started exchanging musical ideas, Arjen Schippers and I felt that we should organise some sort of joint project or effort. After some consideration, we decided it
was time to make those ideas reality in December 2009 and onwards. The main idea is to compose works for piano and cello, in which the cello part will be composed by one of us, while the other one
focusses on composing the piano part. We have recorded our first attempts at creating a coherent composition most recently. You can listen to them by clicking on the links below:
"Kite", Music for Cello and Piano- Duration: 4m 21s[MP3] (March 2010, edited June 2010) "Raindrops", Music for Cello and Piano- Duration: 2m 52s[MP3] (December 2010)
This synergetic project may become an ongoing endeavour. I'll try my best to keep you up-to-date on its overall progress.
More information about Arjen Schippers' music can be found at the following websites:
Even though I have worked with individual band members here and there, I never (formally) joined a band as an actual member. In November 2008, I actually decided to join an 'experimental and acoustic' band named Septæder (Septaeder), after listening to some of their songs.
I was drawn towards the music's extraordinary form and sound and I felt that I could contribute something to the songs as well. I was given the freedom to write my own parts for each of the existing songs; a sense of freedom I appreciated a lot.
After our first performance on February 22, 2009, we realised that the band and our music held great potential. The crowd seemed to like the music and reacted rather enthusiastically to it, regardless of the unorthodox instrumentation and the music's overall length.
Most recently, on September 11, 2010, we decided to end our co-operation. I must add that this project was quite a learning experience on a musical and interpersonal level.
In order to get an idea of what we sound(ed) like, you can click on the link below:
"Excircle" by Septæder - Duration: 3m 50s[MP3] (performed January 7, 2010).
While having a chat with Daniel Melton, the cellist of a newly formed piano trio, he informed me about a retirement ceremony in September 2008.
He subsequently asked me if I could write a piece for that particular ceremony, as they are going to play several pieces for it. I was given a carte blanche, which enabled me
to freely choose what I would see fit for such an occasion. I decided on trying to grasp the overall feeling of reminiscing. Looking at all the good memories and, of course, the memories we'd like to forget.
The Passage of Time depicts a fairly old person, sitting in a rocking chair on a porch, while looking at the horizon during sunset. The person thinks about life and all he/she has been through up until now.
In order to get the effect I wanted, I mainly used the piano mainly for moving through time periods, slowly reflecting on how things went and how life was back then.
On the other hand, the violin and cello were used for the manifestation of the person's feelings. The listener might notice that each of the melodic or accompanying lines
are intertwined, indicating that certain events have had an influence on the person in question.
I will try my best to provide you with a decent live-recording. I am still trying to optimise the sound of the recording I have now, but
it will be difficult to get it right. I will probably record it once more when the piece is performed in the future. I will also try my best to get this particular piece
published, so that more piano trios and audiences can enjoy the sound of it. Note: This piece was performed
for the first time on September 6, 2008 in Oegstgeest (The Netherlands).
One of my latest orchestral works is an overture for full symphony orchestra and concert choir. It is called "Ouverture Royale" (O.R.) and it was completed in May 2006. I did, however, revise it multiple times; I've done that in August 2006, September 2006, November 2006 and January/February 2007. I personally consider August's version to be the first. The one from May was the ground work for the piece, in my opinion. Anyway, I've composed this piece for the 125th (Quasquicentennial) anniversary of G.S.M.G. Bragi, a Dutch student music club.
Bragi was founded on the 26th of April, 1882 in Groningen, The Netherlands. At first, it wasn't exactly my intention to compose a piece for both a symphony orchestra and a concert choir, but the lustrum committee thought it would be nice to make use of the lyrics
of an old 'club song', which was written somewhere around the 1890s. As the melody had disappeared somewhere along the 20th century, I decided to adapt the lyrics and tried to fit them on top of the melody which I had composed.
Bragi rehearsed the first version on the January 15, 2007. I conducted it myself and tried to assess whether or not the first version would be suitable for a concert. The main issue
during that rehearsal was, in fact, the lack of brass; the trumpets had a very prominent role in the piece, but were undermanned at the time. The woodwinds seemed to have trouble being heard, as they weren't orchestrated so densely.
As I discussed the problems with one of the conductors at a later date, he presented me with the same problems, but he also felt that the piece was too long and tended to get a little bit boring at some point. I carefully took his comments into account
and decided to rework the first version. I replaced the intro with a more 'regal' one and I attempted to create an atmosphere of something moving forward through time, like Bragi has done over the past years. This led me towards the completion of O.R. version 6a; the latest version.
The file below represents the latest version of 'Ouverture Royale'. Please keep in mind that not all of the instruments may sound as they are supposed to, as it is in fact a glorified Midi-file.
The orchestration for O.R. is as follows: 1 piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 B flat clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 F horns, 3 B flat trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 tuba, concert choir, timpani, percussion, strings.
I've conducted both the orchestra and the concert choir during the second rehearsal, in order to make sure everything fitted together. Unlike during the previous rehearsal, the brass section was completely present. Sadly, the woodwinds section was missing at that time, but it didn't really matter in the end. We got to hear how it sounds and I was able to evaluate whether or not the concert choir was able to sing their part.
"Ouverture Royale" would have been performed on the 26th of May, 2007 in Groningen (The Netherlands) during a festival which celebrated 180 years of student concerts. Sadly, this project has been cancelled due to artistic differences between the executive committee of G.S.M.G. Bragi and I. This is, of course, the worst case scenario for any composer, regardless of being professional or an amateur.
Even though 'Ouverture Royale' will not be performed any time soon, I have had fun by learning more
about the capabilities of a concert choir and a symphony orchestra. I will take the experiences with me as I obtain more knowledge about composing music.
During the school year of 2003-2004, The Rijnlands Lyceum (Oegstgeest) -my former high school- performed yet another school play
at its auditorium. It was a play called 'Antigone' that year and it was the fifth play in which I joined the orchestra as a cellist.
I've participated in the orchestras for Oedipus (2000), West Side Story (2001), MacBeth (2002), Hair (2003), Antigone (2004) and Saturday Night Fever (2005).
The play of the year 2004 was slightly different for me, because I wanted to test my musical composition skills.
After some consideration, I asked the lead composer and orchestrater, Gerwin van der Werf,
if I could write a musical piece for 'Antigone'. He approved after listening to my compositions in MIDI format and after examining the compositions which
I had printed out for him.
Antigone, a play named after the main character, mainly revolves around the final days of Antigone's life. She opposed the law, by burying her brother, who was in fact considered a traitor in Thebes.
My assignment was to capture the moment in which she held her last monologue to the world. She held her monologue before she was led away to be imprisoned inside of a cave.
Before I got to the version above, I made 3 other versions in order to find out what could work with such a scene. Each of them have similar orchestrations, but the structure of the first 2 was entirely different.
I decided to rewrite the pieces entirely, as they didn't quite match the scene that was assigned to me. In that particular scene, Antigone
tells everyone that she is ready to die for what she has done and she alone is responsible for her acts. She knew from the very beginning that
she would be killed or banned if she decided to bury her brother, who was considered as a traitor by Creon. That is why I decided to go from simply narrating the scene, to actually making the music the embodiment of Antigone's personality and opposition.
I tried to use most of the Antigone theme at the end of ALM #1 & #2, as I felt it suited her character.
I began reworking it and, eventually, I ended up with ALM #3 (November 2003) & #4 (January 2004). In the end, The Rijnlands Lyceum Ensemble performed the 4th version.
(** = This file is a sample in MP3 format of the final version of "Antigone's Last Monologue"; recorded during one of the performances in 2004. You can hear both "Antigone" and "Creon" talking during the performance; everything was spoken in Dutch.)