Network and related artists

Besides the pieces and concerts from the associate artists themselves, several parts of the programme were the result of conversations with the associates and their network.  

Together with Benjamin von Blomberg, Stemann currently serves as intendant of the Schauspielhaus Zürich, where they work with several in-house directors, three of whom Stemann brought along to the Holland Festival: the German director Christopher Rüping with Der Ring des Nibelungen and the American Wu Tsang with Moby Dick; or, The Whale. Porca Miseria from the American choreographer Trajal Harrell (also one of the three in-house directors) had been programmed for 2021, when it was cancelled because of the pandemic. The piece turned out to fit seamlessly in this year’s programme. All these pieces reinterpreted classic works (Der Ring des Nibelungen, Moby Dick and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and explored perspectives that received little attention in the original works. 

For her album and concert Mother Nature, Angélique Kidjo worked with young African artists. The programme team, inspired by her desire to give an up-to-date look at the African scene, also put together a programme that included two club nights in Lofi and an evening in De Melkweg, allowing audiences to enjoy a range of exciting artists from places including Uganda, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenia and Nigeria. Dutch artists like Pink Oculus, Nana Fofie and the British duo Blue Lab beats, all with African roots, were programmed alongside artists who had never performed in the Netherlands before. Dutch audiences were exposed to big names in African rap like Auntie Rayzor and Sho Madjozi, as well as to impressive musical acts like Nakibembe Xylophone Troupe (Uganda), who play a giant xylophone with eight people, working in part with Gabber Modus Operandi from Indonesia. For some artists, the invitation to the Holland Festival was their European debut, and for the hip-hop and R&B duo Def Maa Maa Def it was their first time performing outside Senegal. During her own concert at the Muziekgebouw, one of the opening concert’s guests, Zeynab Habib, showed her unique, modern take on traditional Beninese Bolodjo music. 

Relaxed encounters
The festival offered a relaxed setting for various encounters between makers and other professionals from the sector. Stemann and his associate at Schauspielhaus Zurich, Benjamin von Blomberg, met with people including the Portugese director Tiago Rodrigues, who will lead the festival d’Avignon from September 2022 and whose The Cherry Orchard (La Cerisaie) was performed at the festival, Didier Fusilier, the director of La Villette in Paris, as well as with Ivo van Hove, the director of ITA and director of the Ruhrtriennale from November 2023. 

Though Kidjo did not know all the artists performing on the club nights in advance, each one of them fit in the story she wanted to tell here about the great potential and ambition of artists from various African countries. But, of course, most of the artists who were invited knew Kidjo; for many, she is an icon. The festival organised a reception prior to the concert in De Melkweg for them to meet Kidjo.