donderdag 29 december 2011

Blog voor KAM

Eind december: Een goede tijd om mijn gedachten op een rijtje te zetten.Het laatste concert van het jaar zit er op. Een geweldig leuk Amstel Quartet concert met Dominee Gremdaat in Heerenveen. Ook achter de rug: een aantal spannende recitals met mijn goede vriend Hans Eijsackers aan de piano waar ik erg blij mee was.

Ties Mellema over écht luisteren en meer...

Ik kan tevreden terugkijken op december en eigenlijk op het hele begin van het seizoen. Het was zwaar maar gaf me veel voldoening. Vooral de laatste concerten met Hans in de Nieuwe Liefde, Hengelo en Nieuwkoop. Dat waren de concerten waar ik het allemaal voor doe, waar ik genoeg energie voor een jaar uit haal. Alles viel op zijn plek. Niet dat alles ging zoals gepland. Helemaal niet zelfs! Er kwam een soort vrijheid bij die eigenlijk niet te beschrijven is… Ik heb de laatste weken gestudeerd op luisteren, écht luisteren. En dat is nog moeilijk. Ik heb geprobeerd mijn eigen publiek te zijn. Dat is moeilijk met een blaasinstrument omdat er zoveel geluid binnenkort via botgeleiding door de tanden. Maar als ik heel langzaam speel en écht luister merk ik dat mijn lichaam zich aanpast. Mijn fysiek wordt rustiger, evenwichter en intuitiever. Alleen maar luisteren, ongelooflijk dat dat zoveel gevlogen heeft voor de uitvoering. Een belangrijk aspect hierbij is dat ik mezelf ook train niet te oordelen, ten goede of ten slechte. Ik merk dat veel leerlingen op het conservatorium tijdens hun studie zichzelf trainen om tijdens het spelen te luisteren naar wat er beter kan, of, in mindere mate, te luisteren naar wat er goed gaat. Als je dit doet dan ga je dat ook doen op het podium, en dat wil je eigenlijk niet. Er is altijd wel iets wat mis gaat het podium, maar als je echt leert luisteren, zoals je naar een concert luistert en je laat meevoeren zal je merken dat er meer dingen goed gaan. Rieten worden minder belangrijk, akoestiek doet minder ter zake. het is een wonderlijk proces.

Maar wat was er eerder, de kip of….?

Sinds september heb ik een hobby. Mijn vriendin noemt het soms een obsessie. Ik zoek al sinds 1995 (toen ik begon te studeren aan het conservatorium van Amsterdam) een hobby. Het is fotografie, of liever, lomography geworden. Ik loop sinds september altijd met een camera op zak (ik heb er inmiddels verschillende, elk met een eigen karakter) en ben veel meer aan het kijken en 'framen'. ik merk dat het veel met me doet. Ik weet al veel over zaken als compositie en balans maar ben sinds mijn negende vooral auditief ingesteld. Er gaat nu een hele andere wereld voor me open. Hierboven vertelde ik eigenlijk over afstand nemen. Afstand nemen van iets wat je zo dierbaar is, waar ik zelfs mijn vak van heb gemaakt. Het is een proces waar ik al een paar jaar mee bezig ben. Lomography is een belangrijke stap in deze ontwikkeling. De eerste stap was natuurlijk de geboorte van mijn zoon.

Later meer over lomography.

woensdag 23 november 2011

Chamber tips: "The Sponge"

In the serie 'Chamber tips', 'The Sponge'

It is hard to keep an ensemble together. But after 15 years I found out some things that turned out to be essential.

The ensemble should function like a sponge. It should absorb all input on whatever subject, be it musical or practical. Even if the input seems unmusical, ridiculous or unpractical to the other members, the ensemble should try it out and at least incorporate an essence of the idea. There is nothing more frustrating than having the feeling an idea is bouncing off on a wall while one might have the idea that he is bringing something beneficial to the ensemble.

That  means that sometimes the individual members of the ensemble should set aside their own preferences for the sake f the ensemble. The ensemble that is in the end, its own musical entity.

On the other hand, if the input does not work, and the ensemble functions uncomfortably, one should recognize this and accept it.

vrijdag 18 november 2011

Watch my photos on

Since September I found a new passion, and it seems to be staying!

I am doing analogue photography. It uses a different part of the brain than music, at least, I guess :-)

I am looking at things now. It opened my eyes. We are on tour with the Amstel Quartet and usually I spend my time in the hotel doing administration, studying, meditating, swimming and fitness. But now I get out, looking at things. Talking to people. It's great!

Take a look at some of my pictures here:

Review Vandoren BL3

Ever since I picked up the baritone in the '90's I wanted to play Vandoren, but it never worked for me.

The main problems were: Quacking sound when playing loud and squeaks! Every so many years I tried different types of Vandoren mouthpieces for baritone. I felt that there was something to gain from Vandoren. But the practical problems were always in the way. Vandoren came closer some years ago with the BL3 mouthpiece. The squeaks were gone for the largest part and the sound came closer to something that I liked. But of course, like on alto, the biggest gain I get from the BL3 is playing ease. Some eyars ago I decided playing ease was equally important as a 'good' sound when selecting material. The BL3 is fantastic in that sense that the legato, even in bigger jumps is so much easier. The sound is more consistent and 'cleaner'. I always have the feeling that the baritone is not a serious solo saxophone. It is too hard to play. The BL3 amkes the baritone come closer to a 'real' saxophone. When playing fast notes with register changes I can hear all the notes, whereas with my C* I just had to give up playing all the notes, some would fall out of the line, no matter how hard I tried.
In general, the mouthpiece is much easier to play than any other classical mouthpiece.

Disadvantages are still:
-There is a bigger chance of water on the reed, producing a strange effect to the sound.
-The squeaking is still there, but much less. I have not squeaked in the four concerts I gave in three days on our US tour. Gauvin's tip to put the reeds further over the tip worked, but also straighting out the reed with the Vandoren reed resurfacer seemed to work. And some reeds just squeak...
Also, I feel I have to take less mouthpiece in my mouth.
-The 'quacking' is still a risk. The Vandoren needs more containment, especially in the louder registers. On the Selmer I could open my embouchure and throat, and the sound would still be more or less focussed. On the Vandoren I have to focus the air more.
-The sound, even in legato, is a bit flat. You have to put a lot 'of yourself' into this mouthpiece to have personality and soul come into your sound.

maandag 14 november 2011

Amstel Quartet arrived in Platteville, WI

Ties' blog:
It is 8:12 AM in and I am drinking a great capuccino in Platteville Wisconsin. Is was up very early today. We just flew in from the Netherlands and the jet-lag is in effect. I am not sure where the rest of my quartet but I got up and went out to explore the neighbourhood with my beloved Diana cameras. Infortunately the lighting is not so good today.

In a few hours we will be rehearsing, doing a masterclass, a lecture concert and in the evening a concert at the Platteville uni.
And I am loving it so far. Platteville is a relatively small town, but very charming. Everything is walkable and people give me friendly smile everywhere. In the coffee shop where I am now they are playing jazz music!
Our US tours are milestones in my musical season. Although I miss my girlfriend and son, I get a chance to get back to myself. I meditate, make some photos of unknown territory, eat, drink, sleep, watch tv and think. These tours are commas in my life. Places to breath. In a holiday I have the feeling I have to do something. During these tours I only have to make music. It's great to only have to focus on that.

woensdag 9 november 2011

Ties Mellema is now endorsed by Vandoren. He plays Vandoren AL3, SL3 and BL3, Vandoren classic reeds and Vandoren ligatures (Optimum, M/O).

vrijdag 28 oktober 2011

Making a living

Many people told me that it is impossible to make a living out of playing chamber music on saxophone. Now I know it is hard, but certainly not impossible!

The road is long and difficult, I admit. At least, it was for me. But I am doing it. And loving it. I make a living out of playing classical saxophone and more specifically, chamber music on the saxophone. I play with my quartet and do solo gigs, recitals with my pianist, Hans Eijsackers and solo performances with Bach and stuff with electronics. I worked hard to get here. But it does take sacrifice. Hard work, not only on the saxophone, but also communicating and creativity (in that order in practice, yes!). We are saxophone players and our goal to astonish people and show that this is music as well. Our instrument does not know boundaries and this is how we should approach our practice. We are no violins, clarinets, there are no orchestras waiting for us. Thank God we get to do our own thing! Develop repertoire, arrangements, even compose and improvise ourselves. That is saxophone today.
When people tell you it is not possible to live off chamber music it is only partly true. It does take some adaptations in life style. Maybe not such a big house in not such a top location, reduce your expenses to a minimum while maximizing them for taxes. It's a fine line. But the reward could be making music for a living. If the circumstances are right. What circumstances? If I knew that I wouldn't be writing this blog and working out factors to create those circumstances….

Amstel Quartet finishes diverse recording sessions: their own CD, Amstel Tracks II and Ruud van Eeten's debute CD on which they play his 'Punctus Einz'.

Great learning session with Erik Bosgraaf

Today Erik Bosgraaf enlightened my about how to play van Eyck's 'Floten Lusthof', a recorder standard repertoire colleciton of pieces.

It was a very inspriing session. Time after time I come to the conclusion that in spite of all the knowledge one has, it is the musical intuition that plays the biggest part. Perhaps the frame is the knwloedge, but the actual picture itself is the way the player wants to convey the composer's message. Which is sometimes as prozaic as showing off technique!

A lomo photo to close off :-)

My view on a masters study

I have been teaching conservatory level saxophone level now for about 6 years. About once every so many years I write down my current vision on teaching and especially, learning to play the saxophone.

I have had some experience with master students in the last three years. This is what I worked on with them.
When they the students came to me, they knew very well how they played, what they had to learn and they had ears. They did not need me to tell them how to play, but rather to find their own way with the technique they already possessed. It can be relatively easy to tell someone how to play, but the challenge for me was to help my students find their own way.
Of course this is not black and white. I did have to 'correct' them every now and then. And share my own views on a certain passage or 'correct' their technique. Intonation, finger technique are quite absolute for me…
In the first couple of months I like them work on technique, technique and technique. I want them to really dive into the saxophone, like there's nothing else. As a master student this is your last chance to do so. After the master studies, they will start teaching, gigging, start a family, etcetera. Which is all great of course. But studying for hours and hours will become harder. This is their last chance to perfect their basis.
In the mean time we will work on repertoire, and if the technique is already very good, there's no need to focus on technique. But in my experience, also remembering my own studies, it is a good idea to work on etudes, long tones and scales. And do them in the lesson, with me, and work out the last flaws that might be in the way.
The focus on technique lasts for a couple of months, then we continue with etudes and scales, etc, but the focus becomes repertoire, and more general artisticity. I found that my students usually have a hard time realizing that it is them who should do the work and make the decisions. I can tell them what works (for me…), but they should do the work. I find it very important that my students know how to take their own decisions after they leave school and trust their choices.
Which is hard. I do realize that students are looking for my opinion. And when it concerns intonation, rhythm, I can help them clearly, but when it comes to interpretation, or even choosing repertoire, I think it really important that they find out what it is to look for possibilities, and, more importantly, also make mistakes!
In all cases, I felt my masters students developed their own artisticity, their own opinion, and went on their journey. A journey that will last the rest of their lives. It is my mission to put them on the train.

donderdag 29 september 2011

Shop Paypal payment system back online. Order your CD's now!

Recording week

Amstel Quartet recording week, Amstel Tracks II

After the success of Amstel Tracks I early 2000 we decided to make another one for 2012, our 15th anniversary. Works that we and our audience feel very strongly about. And preferably  written for or aaranged by us. With works by Brahms, Bach, Lago, Nyman, Mozart, Rivier and many others.

We are recording this album this week. And it's going well. But it's hard work. Tomorrow is the last day, just 15 more minutes to go: Barber Adagio and two more Nyman String Quartet movements.

It's hard work, that's one. Apparantly I forgot one thing about recording, although I recorded about 9 albums so far.

Reeds: I need more than 4 recording reeds. My last one crashed today earlier, I needed to open a new box and I recorded one piece on that reed. I hope it still works for the Barber tomorrow, for which I will need a good sound and a flexible reed.

We all have a good feeling about this recording though. The sound that Azazello made is great. Quite direct, compared to our former albums. We never recorded in the Doopsgezinde Kerk in Haarlem before, and it's very good. Apparantly this church was the standard for classical recordings some decades ago. We rediscovered it.

Next week, another week of Amstel Quartet and Dominee Gremdaat!

donderdag 22 september 2011

Ian Wilson - Dog and Gun

For saxophone and tape delay (originally for saxophone and multi track looper)

Ian Wilson - Dog and Gun

Composer Ian Wilson about Ties' Dutch premier performance of 'Dog and Gun' for sax and electronics:
"This is really beautiful – a totally different take on the music which I completely enjoyed! Well done, very cool!"

woensdag 21 september 2011

Maarten Ornstein's Leap Frog

Recorded at the Leiden Hofjesconcerten 2011

Maarten Ornstein's Leap Frog

For saxophone and electronics (different guitar effects)

vrijdag 5 augustus 2011

Great stuff coming up!

I am preparing for a great month! Lots of different stuff. I will need another holiday after this month :-)

Kick off with the Four Baritones concert at the Amsterdam Vondelpark. A mostly Russian programme which will be concluded with Holland's own Gerry Mulligan. Curious who this is? Come check us out on August 7th at 12:30 at the Vondelpark Open Air Theater.

At 12 August, me and my quartet will open the famous Amsterdam Canal Festival during a free concert at canal in front of the Compagnie Theater. Wijnand Van Klaveren made his own four voiced version of the Allemande of the first Cello Suite for us, especially for this occasion!

The Sunday after (14 August), another Vondelpark concert: the first try-out of my Prince inspired contemporary music programme with EnAccord and Wilmar de Visser. This concert is presented by the Amsterdam Canal Festival and the Vondelpark Open Air Theater.

Then, Tuesday 17 at the Amsterdam Hermitage (don't go running off to the St. Petersburg one, where I played in February!) during the Amsterdam Canal Festival with the Four Baritones (yes, four baritone saxophones, and again this concert will be concluded with a quintet consisting of 5 baritone saxophones, with again, Holland's own Gerry Mulligan!).

On 19, 20 and 21 August I will participate in the Lelystad Uitgast Festival, in the beautiful Lelystad Nature Park. I put together the programme for the '11 edition, and I am very excited about this.

And of course, I will close of the month with some performances at the Amsterdam Uitmarkt, as I do alwaus.

woensdag 3 augustus 2011

Time Out Magazine August '11: "Critic's Picks, best action of the month": Ties Mellema, EnAccord, Wilmar de Visser: "Prince with a twist"

zaterdag 30 juli 2011

Back home

Back form a two week holiday in the cloudy south of the Netherlands.

It took me about 5 days for the cold turkey from work to disappear. We had a great time and I really got to relax. Now I am back with lots of work waiting for me. Figuring out a way to handle this...

Lots of concerts coming up: Vondepark, with the Four Baritones, my Prince project, Amstel Quartet at Canal Festival opening, my own Festival, the Uitgast Festival. Plenty of good stuff. Working with great people.

dinsdag 12 juli 2011

North Sea Jazz Festival 2011

I was at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2011, and had a great time. I found a lot of inspiration at this great festival.

A friend of mine even said you become a better person after hearing so many good concerts. It's true, the sheer abundance of creativity, music, artistry, saxophones, drums, basses, grooves, swing, etcetera does something with you.

My highlights were:

Yuri honing Quartet. Great tunes, original style, good ensemble playing, sympathetic and relaxed stage presence and an honest way of playing made this maybe my number one or two favourite NSJ 2011 show.

Al Foster with Fred Hersch. This man is alive, more alive than people half his age. He is always smiling and listening. Enjoying himself. t's a joy to hear and see this group play. Foster spoke some workds after the show, and I was privileged to hear them. He expressed his gratitude and love to his fellow players, the fun he had at the festival, the love for Joe Henderson.

Rudresh Mahantappa was special. He is an American saxophonist with his roots in Parker and Coltrane. But he comes from Indian descent. But he only started to discover the music from his roots after his studies. And he integrates them into his current stylle. The result was fascinating. Maybe somehwat academic, like a colleaugue of mine said, but very interesting. I did not appreciate his experiments with electronics so much, but all of his three concerts I did not leave (which I do when I do not enjoy something 100% or more at the NSJ). Also his clinic was inspiring. He told something about the way he integrated the Indian music into his jazz and the way he looks at jazz in general (do not listen to jazz so much but soak up everything else). He also explained some difficult rythms to us.

Kneebody was a discovery I made solely based on the text in the programme notes of the NSJ flyer. They are a group in the tradition of Rudder and Bloomdaddies. But different, of course. I did not listen to their whole set. The sound was very muddy and not so well defined. Also, the keyboard player was not there because someone stole his passport. But I will be watching these guys. The sax player especually was great.

Portico Quartet: I did not like them. I left the hall after just a few bars of music. Too loungy and clubby. No firm groove... Too electronic and not creative. Not for me.

Branford Marsalis was fantastic, as usual. Especially the ensemble playing was amazing. These guys opened all channels and accept everything that happens and work with it on levels that most other musicians never reach. The ballad in the set was too kitschy for my taste though. A special Bravo for Joey Calerazzo on piano.

Prince, well... I love the guy as an artist and musician, as well as a guitarist. I went three days, and although the last day was ok, his performance never convinced me fully. The sound was horrendous, which made it very hard to enjoy anway. I could not even recognize the songs sometimes. It was obvious that he was playing well, but you know, sometimes I do not know why it doesn't do anything for me. Even besides the sound.

I had the same experience with Chris Potter. Of course Potter is a genius, he is maybe the best tenor around today. But I cannot understand him when he plays. He played with Thomas Stanko, and although I hear that is was good, even excellent, I don't enjoy it...

Larry Graham was great. I enjoyed him very much. The arrangement were carefully made and very effective. Everything happened for a reason, but in the sound we still heard explosive funk. He was also a special guest in the first Prince set on Friday.

I did not understand the Brian Blade group called Black Dub. I went there for Brian Blade, who I enjoy immensly as sideman in the Joshua Redman Trio, but this group I did not get. The guitarist is apparantly a famous producer for a.o. U2, but as a singer and guitar player very average... I have no idea what Mr. Blade was doing in this very average rock group.

Paul van Kemenade was inspiring, especially in duo with Stevko Busch. Some players have this, they are not so good, but still I want to hear what their next phrase will be. I do not want to miss out. Magical...

Dave Holland showed up with a trio with an Oud player and John Surman. What a good begin of the Sunday, contemplative, but not boring. Just beautful and great songs. And relaxed and honest ensemble playing.

Dr. John didn't do it for me this time. Although I am a great fan. Too much routine, I think...

Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau was very nice, but not so memorable. I think maybe Mr. Mehldau didn't have his day and was clearly annoyed by the photographers and the stage lighting. Redman stole the show, soulful, direct and honest playing.

Next year, when I have the opportunity, I will be present at the NSJ again. It is a battery charge for me as a musician and a person.

woensdag 6 juli 2011

Donate now to Ties' Prince project, his attempt to combine contemporary music with the music of Prince.

Uitgast Festival

Since this year I am artistic director of the Uitgast Festival. A festival in Lelystad, Flevoland.

I follow in the footststeps of my pianist, Hans Eijsackers, who did this a few times before me. I am very excited about this. Although it is a lot of work, but work I love to do. Putting together a balanced and characteristic programme was an adventure that I would love to undertake some more.

Right now I am waiting for two composers to discuss the production of a musical walk through the Lelystad Nature Park. We will ask amateur musicians to play excerpts frpm the Planets, scattered around the park. The audience will walk past them with as endpoint Ivo Bol's famous 'The Planets' installation, consisting a.o. of 8 turntables, with each playing a different interpretation of the Planets. Bart de Vrees will write the excerpts of the Planets. This is one of the most exciting parts of the festival. Also because it is something quite new and requires some refined production.

If you want to be one of the musicians: you can still sign up here.

The programme is finished and I am very proud of the whole thing. All acts are of course high lights for me, but these pop to mind right now: Ivo Janssen with his jazzy piano recital with works by Tatum, Lauba etc; My own Prince project with EnAccord and Wilmar de Visser (contemporary music inspired by the multi-talented Prince); Dominee Gremdaat; The Ploctones (with Anton Goudsmit!); and Lucas van Merwijk's Drums United with a.o. my good friend Niti Ranjan Biswas on tabla.

Be there!

woensdag 15 juni 2011


Last Friday was a black day for artists. The definitive cuts were announced, and it ain't pretty!

The bigger organisations like orchestras and dance companies were spared, but everything else was cut big time. The Dutch Music publishing company was cut, Donemus! I can't believe it. It must be a big joke or something. This is surreal. Am I living in the Netherlands?

I am speechless....

Mark Rutter our PM said that artists should not turn their back at audiences and open their wallets at the government anymore. He slapped all of us artists in the face.

It's populism, political oppurtunism and stupidity...

An audience reaction to Ties' concert in Leiden (Dutch): ""

Ties, je performance in Leiden (hofje) was geweldig. Je bent werkelijk een virtuoos. Je experimentele deel, moet je heus op cd zetten. Hoewel het beeld erbij, minstens zo interessant is.""

De feiten, leer ze kennen


vrijdag 3 juni 2011

Ties Mellema on Virus

With works by Bach, Prokoviev, Lago, Ornstein and Marturet

Ornstein Leap Frog

Virus, complete uitzending Radio 4, 2 June 2011, Schouwburg, Rotterdam

woensdag 1 juni 2011

Amateur musici gezocht voor spannend locatieproject Festival Uitgast

Enthousiasteamateurmusici gevraagd voor Uitgast 2011! 

Op20 en 21 augustus is er weer het jaarlijkse Uitgastfestival in hetprachtige Natuurpark Lelystad. Hét laagdrempelige openluchtfestivalmet klassieke muziek, jazz, wereldmuziek én actie voor jong en oud,én gratis toegankelijk.

Opzondag 21 augustus organiseren wij een fantastisch project vooramateurmusici.

Ditunieke locatieproject is gebaseerd op het beroemde stuk 'the Planets'van Holst en wij zoeken hiervoor amateurmusici van alle niveaus. Ookzijn alle instrumenten welkom: van blokfluit tot slagwerker en vanzang tot gitaar. De musici staan overal in het landschap opgesteld envormen zo de hemellichamen uit deze compositie, het publiek beweegtzich vrijelijk van plek naar plek langs de musici.

Demuziek wordt in de middag van 20 augustus vanaf 14.00 tot 17.00 uuringestudeerd met componisten Bart de Vrees en Ivo Bol.

Demuziek die Bart de Vrees zal maken zijn fragmenten uit, enbewerkingen van elementen uit 'the Planets'. De muziek kan door alleniveaus tijdens die ochtend worden ingestudeerd.

Udoet toch ook mee? Geef je snel op voor 18 juli viainfo@hyperhyena.comen geef daarbij antwoord op de volgende vragen:

Naam :

Telefoonnummer :

Adres :

Instrument :

Niveau: beginner/ gevorderd / ver gevorderd / professional            (doorstrepen wat niet van toepassing is)

Hebje nog vragen? Mail dan naar ditzelfde adres.

Tot21 augustus tot Uitgast!

Alvastde muziek proeven?


en hier

Enthousiaste amateurmusici gezocht voor spannend locatieproject tijdens Festival Uitgast 21 augustus 2011

maandag 30 mei 2011

Joshua Redman @ Bimhuis

One of my great contemporary tenor heroes is Joshua Redman. He was at the Bimhuis last night with a trio consisting of young American jazz musicians.

In 2008 I witnessed one of the most impressive jazz concerts in my life: Joshua Redman with his own trio without keys or guitar, and on drums Brian Blade. This jazz as chamber music, so dynamic and exciting. The energy and creativity were flowing freely. Yesterday however, I discovered that mr. Redman needs sidemen that can carry him. He is not Chris Potter, who can blow right through any musicians that surround him. Redman needs to have equals around him. Brian Blade is someone that can connect with Redman. Yesterday's trio wasn't. Redman is a great player, not virtuoso, not macho, no heavy sound. His music comes from below the neck.  It's not intellectual, and yesterday I thought that this quartet might have been an attempt to experiment with a more rational and macho jazz.

I hope Redman finds what he's looking for. I didn't see it (yet).

Until then, I will attend his concerts whenever I can.

woensdag 18 mei 2011

Saxophone Concerto repertoire Ties Mellema now online

Saxophone Concertos; Repertoire Ties Mellema, with orchestra

Saxophone Concertos; Repertoire Ties Mellema, with orchestra

Saxophone concertos

Berio, Luciano - Chemins for sopran saxophone and orchestra
Berio, Luciano - Chemins for alto saxophone and orchestra
Bryars, Gavin - Allegrasco for saxophone and stringorchestra
Bryars, Gavin - The Green Ray for saxophone and orchestra
Caplet, André - Légende for chamberensemble and saxophone
Debussy, Claude - Rapsody
Denisow, Edison - Concerto for saxophone and orchestra (Sikorski) 1992
Glazounow - saxophone concerto (stringorchestra)
Jacob TV - Tallahatchie Concerto
Kancheli, Giya - Night Prayers  (Strings + Prepared Tape) 20'
Larsson, Lars-Erik - Concerto for saxophone and stringorchestra (three movements)
Martin, Frank - Ballad for alto saxophone and stringorchestra
Martin, Frank - Ballad for tenor (symphony orchestra)
Mihalovici, Marcel - Chant Premier for Solo tenor (symphony orchestra)
Milhaud, Darius - Scaramouche (symphony orchestra)
Muldowney, Dominic - Concerto (chamberorchestra)
Nyman, Michael - Where the Bee dances (chamber orchestra)
Nyman, Michael - Double Concerto for saxophone and cello with orchestra
d'Rivera, Paquito - 'Conversations with Cachao' for saxophone, doublebass and orchestra, 33’
Schmitt, Florent - Légende
Torke, Michael - Saxophone concerto for saxophone and orchestra
Villa-Lobos, Heitor - Fantasia (stringorchestra + 4 hrns)
Williams, John - Escapades (dé John Williams)
Wilson, Ian - Who's afraid of red, yellow and blue (symphony orchestra)
Wilson, Ian - Sarée in Kassel, composed for Ties Mellema (chamberorchestra)

Programmes 2012-2013 now online (English)

Ties Mellema/Hans Eijsackers, recital piano/saxophone

Half Blood, the Music of Prince (with En Accord String Quartet and bassist Wilmar de Visser)

Shadows, solo saxophone with subtle electronics

Minimal Ties, minimal music now and then


recital saxophone/piano

Asaxophone and piano recital by the winner of the Dutch Music Prize,Ties Mellema, and one of the most versatile pianists of Holland, HansEijsackers. During the concert Ties and Hans will gladly tell theaudience more about the various pieces they play.
The programme isa selection of the most successful adaptations and originalcompositions for saxophone and piano from the Mellema/Eijsackersduo’s repertoire.
The Irish composer Ian Wilson and jazzdouble-bassist Tony Overwater are currently composing new work forTies and Hans for the 2012-2013 season.


Maurice Ravel - Sonate Posthume
SergejRachmaninov - Sonate Op. 19


ClaudeDebussy/Hans Eijsackers - Syrinx
Ian Wilson - New Work
TonyOverwater - New Work
Guillermo Lago - Strong Ties

(subjectto change, final programme always by agreement)


Ties Mellema, solosaxophone
optionally with Niels Bijl, saxophones

Minimalmusic highlights from the saxophone repertoire. Golden Oldies andcontemporary minimal music.

TerryRiley - Dorian Reeds
Philip Glass - Gradus
Ties Mellema -Minimal Impro
Ian Wilson - Ondes Ombragées
(for saxophone andLIVE recorded tape)
Eduardo Marturet - Canto Llano
(forsaxophone and tape delay)

WithNiels Bijl, saxophones
Marc Mellitis - Black
for two baritonesaxophones
Philip Glass, Music in the Shape of a Square
for twosoprano saxophones

(subjectto change, final programme always by agreement)


TiesMellema, solo saxophones

Apoetical programme built up around the Irishman Ian Wilson and hisOndes Ombragées,a piece in which the saxophonist records himself in the first halfand plays together with himself in the second half. The programme isbeautifully balanced and varied through the subtle use ofelectronics.
'Shadows'is Ties Mellema’s continuing quest to take the audience with himinto his musical world. Ties is constantly looking for new pieces andsounds (for instance through the subtle use of electronics). Inaddition there are constantly composers writing for this versatilemusician. Each concert has a place in Ties’ development and growthas a musician and as a saxophonist.
Each programme is attuned tothe space in which the concert will take place. The space ispreferably used in an unconventional way.
There are two constants:the Irish composer Ian Wilson and Johann Sebastian Bach (Cello suiteno. 3 or the Partita BWV 1013)


EduardoMarturet (1953) - Canto Llano
for saxophone and tape delay
IanWilson (1964) - Ondes Ombragées
for saxophone and LIVE recordingand play-back
Luciano Berio (1925-2003) - Sequenza VIIb
forsolo saxophone
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - Cello suite no.1, 3 and/or Partita (orig. flute)
for saxophone
Jorrit Dijkstra- new work, written for Ties Mellema
for saxophone andelectronics
Maarten Ornstein - Leap Frog (2011), written for TiesMellema
for saxophone and electronics

(subject to change, finalprogramme always by agreement)

'HalfBlood, the music of Prince'

TiesMellema, saxes
En Accord, string quartet
Wilmar de Visser,double bass

Asa saxophonist I am used to playing all kinds of styles in myconcerts. One style that I have barely played during my career, sinceI left the conservatory, is pop music, even though this type of musicformed a substantial part of my musical development as a teenager.
The most important pop artist during puberty for me, was Prince.Prince is an artist who has always fascinated me. He can suddenlychange styles, from one album to the next, from one song to the next.His compositions are a match for many a classical piece.
I haveasked composers to recompose one or more songs for saxophone andstring quartet:
David Dramm, Martin Fondse, Wijnand van Klaveren,Pieter-Jelle de Boer, Guillermo Lago, Ruud van Eeten and RenskeVrolijk.

Theresult is truly varied. Van Klaveren used the modal character ofThieves in the Temple, Purple Rain and Diamonds and Pearls and turnedit into a Suite in the style of Rachminov.
Guillermo Lagotransformed Sign o' the Times into an impressionistic poem.
DavidDramm wrote a fascinating 'medley' by putting intros to Prince songsin sequence and replacing all the original sounds by acoustic soundssuch as my saxophone, his own voice and that of Monica Germino.
Thecomposers’ were asked to ‘recompose’ and explicitly not torearrange in the usual sense. My brief to the composers was:‘Recompose this piece in your own style, making sure the melodyremains recognisable. You can run with that.’
In the end theyare all new re-compositions. With elements and melodies which willsound familiar to many, in a new context, a new perspective, with atwist and with an unexpected sound.

(subjectto change, final programme always by agreement)

Programmes 2012-2013 Now online (English): Ties Mellema/Hans Eijsackers; Half Bloof, the Music of Prince, Shadows (solo saxophone); Minimal Ties (minimal music now and then)

woensdag 4 mei 2011

Dutch Heights, Award winning Dutchmen, page 376: "Mellema consistently treats the listener to a new understanding of whatever piece he is playing, in jazz it known as improvisation, in classical it is called interpretation."

Long line

I just realized that my life nowadays is about a longer line than it used to be.

When I was in conservatory it mattered to have a routine every day, to study my scales and etudes as well as I could. Today I have to do what s necessary that day, or that period. And I sometimes forget that I am quite good at playing the saxophone already. It's not about scales and etudes anymore, at least, not all the time.
What a relief!

Nieuwsbrief programmeurs nu  online (Dutch only)

dinsdag 3 mei 2011

Programma's '12-'13 nu online

Programma's '12-'13

De programma's van Nederlandse Muziekprijswinnaar 2010, Ties Mellema zijn nu online.

Duo Mellema/Eijsackers
recital saxofoon/piano

Een saxofoon en piano recital door Nederlandse Muziekprijswinnaar Ties Mellema en één van de meest veelzijdige pianisten van Nederland, Hans Eijsackers. Ties en Hans lichten het concert graag mondeling toe op een informele manier.
Het programma is een selectie van de meest geslaagde bewerkingen en origineel werk voor saxofoon en piano uit het repertoire van het duo Mellema/Eijsackers.
Voor het seizoen '12-'13 schrijven de Ierse componist Ian Wilson en jazzbassist Tony Overwater op dit moment nieuwe werken voor Ties en Hans.

(onder voorbehoud, definitief programma altijd in overleg)

Maurice Ravel - Sonate Posthume
Sergej Rachmaninov - Sonate Op. 19


Claude Debussy/Hans Eijsackers - Syrinx
Ian Wilson - Nieuw Werk
Tony Overwater - Nieuw Werk
Guillermo Lago - Strong Ties

'Minimal Ties'

Ties Mellema, solo saxofoon
optioneel met Niels Bijl, saxofoons

Minimal music highlights uit het saxofoonrepertoire. Oude krakers, en hedendaagse minimal music.

Terry Riley - Dorian Reeds
Philip Glass - Gradus
Ties Mellema - Minimal Impro
Ian Wilson - Ondes Ombragées
(voor saxofoon en LIVE recorded tape)
Eduardo Marturet - Canto Llano
(vor saxofoon en tape delay)

Met Niels Bijl, saxofoons
Marc Mellitis - Black
voor twee baritonsaxofoons
Philip Glass, Music in the Shape of a Square
voor twee sopraansaxofoons


Ties Mellema, solo saxofoons

Een poëtisch programma rondom de Ier Ian Wilson en zijn Ondes Ombragées, een werk waarin de saxofonist zichzelf in de eerste helft opneemt en in de tweede helft met zichzelf samenspeelt. Het programma heeft een prachtige balans en afwisseling door het subtiele gebruik van elektronica.
'Shadows' is een continue zoektocht van Ties Mellema om het publiek mee te nemen in zijn muzikale wereld. Ties is voortdurend op zoek naar nieuwe stukken en klanken (bijvoorbeeld door het subtiele gebruik van elektronica). Bovendien zijn er altijd componisten aan het schrijven voor deze veelzijdige muzikant. Elk concert neemt een unieke plaats in in de ontwikkeling van Ties als muzikant en saxofonist.
Elk programma wordt afgestemd op de ruimte waarin het concert zal plaatsvinden. Bij voorkeur wordt de ruimte op een niet conventionele wijze gebruikt.
Er zijn twee constanten: de Ierse componist Ian Wilson en Johann Sebastian Bach (Cellosuite no. 3 of de Partita BWV 1013)


Eduardo Marturet (1953) - Canto Llano
voor saxofoon en tape delay
Ian Wilson (1964) - Ondes Ombragées
voor saxofoon en LIVE recording en play-back
Luciano Berio (1925-2003) - Sequenza VIIb
voor solosaxofoon
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) - Cellosuite no. 1, 3 en/of Partita (orig. fluit)
voor saxofoon
Jorrit Dijkstra - nieuw werk, gescrheven voor Ties Mellema
voor saxofoon en elektronica
Maarten Ornstein - Leap Frog (2011), geschreven voor Ties Mellema
voor saxofoon en elektronica


Ties Mellema, saxen
En Accord, strijkkwartet
Wilmar de Visser, contrabas
"Half Blood, the music of Prince"

Ties Mellema, saxen
EnAccord strijkkwartet
Wilmar de Visser, contrabas

Als saxofonist is Ties Mellema gewend allerlei stijlen te spelen tijdens zijn concerten. Eén stijl die nog nauwelijks aan bod kwam in zijn carrière, sinds het conservatorium, is de popmuziek. Alhoewel deze muziek een wezenlijk deel uitmaakt van Mellema's muzikale ontwikkeling als puber. De belangrijkste popartiest gedurende Mellema's puberteit was Prince, de plotselinge afwisseling van stijlen, per album per nummer….ook nu Mellema al lang geen puber meer is, blijft de fascinatie voor deze grootheid. Volgens Mellema doen de composities van Prince niet onder voor menig klassiek werk.

Hedendaagse componisten als David Dramm, Martin Fondse, Wijnand van Klaveren, Guillermo Lago, Ruud van Eeten, Renske Vrolijk, Maarten van Norden gebruikten nummers als Sign 'o' the Times, Te Amo Corazon, Kiss, Purple Rain, Thieves in the Temple, Nothing Compares to you als inspiratie voor eigen originele vaak groovende en soulvolle composities. Het resultaat is herkenbare hedendaagse muziek en Prince met een twist.

zondag 24 april 2011

Portugal masterclasses

In the airplane now, comng back from teaching a masterclass in Oporto, Portugal. I had a great time. I took my family with me and after the masterclass was finished we went on holiday in Oporto. Unfortunately, we had to stay a week extra in Portugal, beause my son got the chicken pocks, which is not dangerous, but still contagious. So we couldn't fly out.

The saxophone class in Portugal is like a family. The class is run by Henk van Twillert together with Fenando Ramos and Gilberto Bernardes. This masterclass was part of the International Saxophone Week 2011 at the Conservatory in Oporto. There were several concerts, one with works by Bruce Pennycook, a final concert (in which Henk van Twillert played his version of the Sarabande from the 6th Cello Suite), Spanish saxophonist Pablo Coello who presented music for saxophone, percussion and electronics. And of course I played a concert, my 'Shadows' concept. A concert in which I explore works that use musical shadows. It was very exciting to play this concert for mostly colleagues. But it went well in the end. I used a lot of electronics, mainly guitar effects and live recording and play-back with a .wav recorder. The concert seemed to be well received, especially the Bach Flute Partita. A piece I have struggled with for some years. This year I finally seem to have some ease with it. Tjako van Schie, Henk van Twillert's pianist and accompanist of the Oporto saxophone class, gave me the biggest compliment. He said I was speaking with my instrument. A great compliment from someone wo is about to record his second Goldberg Variations.
The masterclass also was exciting. The mediterranean way of saxophone methodic is very different from more Northern countries. They study only three years in their bachelor and amongst others, therefore start very early with the most difficult pieces in the repertoire. For some, this seemed to work, but for others I had a hard time connecting to them, because I felt it was necessary to work on more basic things.
All in all, the class was great, very enthusiastic, musical and hard working.
I hope to return very soon!

zondag 10 april 2011

Off to Portugal

Just finished packing to go teach and play a concert in Portugal, after a short holiday in Porto.

dinsdag 15 maart 2011

Grunberg helpt

Een paar weken beleden schreef ik een mail naar Arnon Grunberg, naar aanleiding van zijn column 'Grunberg helpt' in Vrij Nederland:

""Op 4 december j.l., was u aanwezig op een concert van ondergetekende in de Noorderkerk te Amsterdam, ter gelegenheid van de 75ste verjaardagen van Arvo Pärt en Terry Riley. U schreeÍ later over dit concert in uw column op de voorpagina van de Volkskrant. U vermeldde de locatie en de componisten, maar niet de uitvoerders en bedenkers van het pÍogÍamma, het Amstel Quartet. Hoort bii de beschrijving van een concert niet ook de vermelding van de muzikanten?
- met vriendelijke groet, Ties Mellema ""

Ik moet zeggen, ik was een beetje van mijn stuk door het volgende antwoord:

""Het is u misschien ontgaan dat mijn dagelijkse column in de Volkskrant nooit meer dan 149 woorden telt. Componisten leken me in dit geval belangrijker om te noemen dan de uitvoerders en bedenkers. U zult ook beseffen dat een column op de voorpagina geen recensie is. Als het om een recensie ging, had ik begrip gehad voor uw vraag. Nu heb ik het gevoel dat uw ijdelheid veel weg heeft van een terriër met hondsdolheid. Ik raad u aan de terriër naar het asiel te brengen.""

Typisch was dat ik eerst dacht dat hij misschien wel gelijk had. Was mijn vraag inderdaad een gevolg van mijn ijdelheid?

Ik ben nu in Zuid Frankrijk, verstoken van de meeste vormen van moderne communicatie. Genoeg gelegenheid om na te denken. Onder andere hierover.

Mijn vraag was het gevolg van oprechte nieuwsgierigheid. Grunberg noemde alles behalve de uitvoerders. Ik vroeg me af waarom. Toen ik dit uitlegde aan mijn vriendin zei zij me dat ik het beter ook zo had kunnen vragen. De vraag zoals ik hem hierboven stelde in Vrij Nederland kan retorisch worden opgevat. En bovendien, er spreekt kennelijk ijdelheid uit.

Ik ben zo ijdel als ik moet zijn om muzikant te zijn. Een vermelding op de voorpagina van de Volkskrant is altijd leuk. Maar het zou vooral aardig zijn te weten waarom wij geen blijvende indruk hadden gemaakt. Als ambitieuze muzikant wil ik mijn favoriete muziek zo veel mogelijk laten horen. Daarvoor is het belangrijk dat mijn naam circuleert.

Wellicht is het ook een compliment. Brachten wij de intenties van de componisten zo direct over dat we onszelf als het ware hadden 'uitgezet'?

Ik mag het graag denken.

Het antwoord bleek prozaïscher, 149 woorden...

dinsdag 15 februari 2011

Jean Marie Londeix about Ties Mellema's latest CD, for full review see the 'press' section:

"throughout magnificent!"

donderdag 13 januari 2011

New Amstel Quartet 'Amstel Raga' out now. Featuring Niti Ranjan Biswas, tabla. Available in the Amstel Records webshop in this site.

woensdag 12 januari 2011

To feel or not to feel

A workshop I did with jazz pianist and Effortless Mastery author Kenny Werner changed my musical life. For me, his technique is described by this quote of his: ""The success of a performance is not determined by what I hear, but by the measure in which I could let go."". Sounds vague? Maybe a bit. But Mr. Werner gives very concrete exercises to practice this. Every run, phrase, etc. I study I now practice to not care, to let go. If I cannot play a certain run, I cannot let go. The technique itself is not the main goal though, this is very important. When I study like this - to be honest, it takes some will power - a practice session can be like a meditation in itself. If I really do it, I come out of my studio with more inspiration and energy than before.

To let the will to sound well go, is the key in the end.
And this brings me to another aspect during playing. How do you feel when you play? I never really thought about this. Until I started teaching. For me the main goal (until I met Mr. Werner) was to sound good and play well. Of course, it still is, but in my practice sessions I try to forget this. But I have a student who wants to feel well when he/she plays. Again, this is new to me.
This particular student wants to feel well, and if he (or she) does, the performance went well. But, to my ears, this is not always the case.
One thought pops into my mind: I often record my concerts, and I have noticed over the years that I play more interesting when I play with some resistance. This can be a mediocre reed, being slightly ill or tired (or very tired even!), bad acoustics. I think that with this resistance I give up the will to sound well and let go. I wish I didn't need it, but it is true many times. And lots of times when I feel well, when the airflow feels comfortable, my body feels relaxed, the sound is good and the reed is good (yes, I regularly find good reeds!), I notice I play a bit boring. Apparantly, I need to fight a little bit. This is my personality, when I think about it.
Of course, I cannot force this resistance, I wish I could. But music is too abstract. Too uncontrollable. And this is the magic of being a performer. And at the same time the hardest part of being one.
Sometimes we play fantastic and we felt bad on stage... Isn't that wonderful?!

woensdag 5 januari 2011

Splendor openingsconcert

Beste donateurs, beste vrienden,

Na een ruim jaar voorbereiden en plannen maken is het zover:
Splendor gaat beginnen!

Wij zijn daar zo blij mee dat we op zondagmiddag 16 januari 2011 speciaal voor de 400 mensen die ons als donateur willen ondersteunen een feestconcert geven.

Op deze unieke middag laten de musici van Splendor hun allermooiste, meest dierbare of allernieuwste muzikale juwelen horen. Op dit rijk geschakeerde Splendor-programma staat onder meer muziek van Albinoni door Mike del Ferro, celloduetten door Floris Mijnders en Johan van Iersel, John Cage door Claron McFadden, maar ook Helena Rasker, Michiel Weidner, Gerard Bouwhuis en Maarten Ornstein in een uitzonderlijke De Falla, uitbundige feestmuziek van Martin Fondse, wereldpremières van Wilbert Bulsink en Bart de Vrees, pianomuziek van Satie op hobo en cymbaal, een Argentijnse tango en nog heel veel meer! Én, als klap op de vuurpijl, is er ook een prijs te winnen: een huisconcert door vier Splendor-musici naar keuze.

Wij kijken er naar uit jullie op 16 januari te mogen ontmoeten. We horen graag van tevoren of je komt en met hoeveel personen op Introducés zijn ook van harte welkom! Ook als je helaas verhinderd bent of andere plannen hebt horen we dit graag.

Hartelijke groet namens alle musici en het bestuur van Splendor,

Wilmar de Visser, initiator

Feestconcert Splendor
zondag 16 januari 2010 16.00 uur
het Zonnehuis 
Zonneplein 30 Amsterdam