Tactile - WOUTER SNOEI
When Wouter Snoei (Amsterdam *1977) did his entrance exam at the Institute of Sonology (Royal Conservatory, The Hague) in 1994, he was much too young to be admitted. But we admitted him anyway, especially since we were intrigued that at such a tender age he was already proficient on the harp as well as the piano.
In 1998, he did his bachelor’s degree and in 2000 his master’s, both excellently. Since then, his name has been a permanent fixture in the world of the “electronic muse” in the Netherlands, with his (technical) resourcefulness equaling his musical originality. Snoei’s compositions cover a broad range, from strictly synthetic to the most divergent forms of live electronics. That alongside his advanced activities he has also played a leading role in dance music (in 1997, while still a student, he won the “Grote Prijs van Nederland” competition in the genre) marks him as a composer of the youngest generation, who no longer heed the ridiculous trench warfare between “serious” and “light” that spoiled twentieth-century musical thinking. like Aristotle, Wouter Snoei sees that tragedy and comedy are like a brother and sister who cannot do without each other.
His performances in the Netherlands’ most celebrated dance temples (Paradiso and Roxy in Amsterdam; effenaar in eindhoven; and Paard in The Hague) have provided evenings of intelligent pleasure. I shall never forget how in Paradiso, the young audience on the dance floor greeted Snoei’s “tracks” with thunderous applause.
Characteristic of his equally open and inquisitive mind is that Snoei has often placed his abilities at the service of other composers and musicians. For works by luigi Nono (Omaggio a György Kurtag, Das Atmende Klarsein, La Lontananza nostalgica utopica futura) he developed the software, he added lustre to John Cage’s Solo for Voice 91, and for Gérard Grisey’s Les Chants de l’Amour he supplied the intrinsic sound-space the work asks for. Joint projects with the ASKo Chamber Choir (2000-2007), vocaallAB Nederland (2005- 2007, and more to come), The Game of life Foundation and many others evoke the image of a composer of the future, seeing no difference between creating his own work and serving the music of others.
His receiving the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Encouragement Prize for young composers was not for him an invitation to rest on his laurels. That very year, he began – for The Game of life Foundation – his collaboration on the Wave Field Synthesis system, a spatial sound system for 192 speakers that frees electronic music from its primitive four-channel conveyance and finally reconciles sound with space. Since 2007, Snoei has been a guest instructor at the utrecht School of the Arts, where with his typically soft-spoken manner he shares his logistical- compositional experience. He is also an instructor in a collaborative Sonology- Composition project at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In 2008, he entered into collaboration with Dick Hauser on an adventurous theater production.
There are no compositional systems at work in Snoei’s music, no sacred formulas, no doctrines, except for one fundamental principle: drama. Not the drama of the classical theater or of Beethoven and Berlioz, say, but something entirely different: The sounds themselves are the dramatis personae, the subjects of the action. No longer “inserted” into pre-designed structural schemes, they generate the form themselves through interaction or dialogue. The dramatic process is clearly discernible in all of Snoei’s compositions; their action is strictly musical, not imposed on them through one or another system. The form is perceptibly carried forward by the sounds themselves and their figurations.
liner notes: Konrad Boehmer