TEXT WRITTEN BY ANNE LA BERGE and DAVID DRAMM*
This article is published as a part of the Foreign Words series of linda,
dedicated to good texts in languages other than Portuguese. Enjoy!
Amsterdam is known for its musician-initiated spaces through the years including the electronic music center STEIM, the jazz club BIMhuis, the modern music venue IJsbreaker and the post-squat Overtoom 301. Splendor adds a distinctive new twist to these fabled institutions: it is completely self-funded and offers work and performance space to any and all genres.
Five years ago, contrabassist Wilmar de Visser dreamt of creating a music space in Amsterdam where musicians could rehearse and organize concerts easily and on short notice. The idea was simple: make a place where musicians could explore, collaborate and perform. To finance it, they would do what comes most naturally: play concerts.
This idea was embraced by a group of 50 musicians. Each Splendor musician produces one concert a year for a membership based audience, automatically generating 50 concerts. This special concert series is then offered to members who pay €100 a year for free access to all 50 concerts. Splendor is currently supported by around 1000 paying members and hosts over 250 events per season. In a short span of two years, Splendor has become an international hub for musicians to gather and try out new ideas.
Splendor is run by a group of select musicians from every corner of the Dutch music scene. There are a host of experimental and electronic music mavericks, jazz and alternative rock types as well as orchestra players from the Concertgebouw, Rotterdam and Radio Philharmonic orchestras. There’s even a tap dancer.
They use the space for themselves and their own groups as well as for guests who are invited to take part in various projects. Just by the nature of a building where multiple groups can rehearse or perform at the same time, collaborations between the 50 happen frequently, often conceived during a chance encounter at the coffee machine or the bar.
Splendor’s business manager is an ex-percussionist, ultra-jack-of-all-trades named Norman who oversees a small staff that takes care of daily operations and finances. The musicians handle most of the production tasks themselves, including PR and hosting their events. Everything from the sound systems to the whiskey and wine selection bears the personal touch of one or more of the musicians.
With three performance spaces, two rehearsal studios downstairs and a bar, the building is often used for multiple-space events and simultaneous concerts. The diversity of the Splendor musicians ensures a wide-range of music and people coming through the building. Listeners who come for Schubert often wind up checking out a live electronics event just because it’s next door.
With flexible staging and no backstage areas, musicians and members walk through the same door into a concert space and wind up at the same bar afterwards for drinks and a chat. In order to accommodate all 1000 members at once, Splendor organizes one large, marathon concert per year at the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ called the Splendor Parade.
Splendor has become a second home for the musicians, their public and a vast number of artists from the Netherlands and abroad. The building is theirs – 365 days a year – to create, explore and produce…to wherever their imagination takes them.
Photo credits: Foppe Schut, David Dramm, Wilmar de Visser
Musicians pictured include Maarten Ornstein, Wilmar de Visser, Santiago Cimadevilla, Oene van Geel, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Anne La Berge, Robert van Heumen, Dana Jessen, Paula Matthusen, Katherine Young, Amy Cimini.
For more information on Splendor: