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Ensemble Black Pencil - PROJECTS




About Black Pencil Musicians Projects Video




(English version of La Volta will be published soon)


La Volta is het nieuwe concertprogramma van BLACK PENCIL. Het programma is gebaseerd op de uitvoeringspraktijk van muziek en composities uit de Elizabethaanse tijd. Specifiek is het unieke boek van Thomas Morley: ‘First Book of Consort Lessons’ (1599), de belangrijkste renaissance-publicatie voor 'Broken Consort'. Een selectie uit de mooiste Pavanes, Gaillardes en andere dansen met variaties op volkse liederen hebben als inspiratie gediend voor de realisatie van de eigen arrangementen en voor het maken van de nieuwe composities.   
De muziek stelt een grote variatie aan stijlen ten toon, waaronder die van John Dowland (1563-1626), William Byrd (1540-1623), Thomas Morley (1557 – 1602), Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625), Klaas de Vries (NL-1944), David Dramm (NL/USA-1961), Oene van Geel (NL-1973) en Fred Momotenko (NL/RUS 1970). Alle oude muziek composities zijn door de verschillende leden van het ensemble bewerkt, in nauwe samenwerking met de ervaren en vooraanstaande Nederlandse componist Roderik de Man (1941).


Kenmerkend voor de optredens van Black Pencil is de originaliteit, de historische onderbouwing, het frisse en virtuoze spel en natuurlijk de unieke instrumentatie: blokfluit (Jorge Isaac), panfluit (Matthijs Koene), viola (Esra Pehlivanli), accordeon (Marko Kassl) en percussie (Enric Monfort).


La Volta is een concert van ongeveer 80 minuten, vol contrasten, avontuurlijk en toegankelijk.




- William Byrd (ca.1540-1623): My Lord of Oxenford's Maske
(gepubliceerd in 1599 en 1611)


- Oene van Geel (1973): Bayachrimae (2016) *


- Anonymous Masques: First & second witches Dance (vroeg 17e eeuw)


- Klaas de Vries (1944): from far... broken (2016) *


- John Dowland (1563 - 1626): Lachrimae Antiquae
(uit Seaven Teares, gepubliceerd in 1604)


- Peter Philips (1560 – 1628): Galliard to Phillips Pavin
(gepubliceerd in 1599 en 1611)


- David Dramm (1961): Sorry (2016) *


- Thomas Morley (ca. 1557 – 1602): The Lord Souches Maske
(gepubliceerd in 1599 en 1611)


- Fred Momotenko (1970): Danco Konsonanco (2016) **


- Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625): Pavane and Galliard ‘Lord Salisbury’
(gepubliceerd in 1599 en 1611)


- Thomas Morley (ca. 1557 – 1602): La volta (gepubliceerd in 1599 en 1611)


* In opdracht van het Fonds Podiumkunsten

** In opdracht van VisiSonor




Songs have been throughout the history of music a profoundly rich source of expression. Since Medieval times, they are present in all cultures and music periods, in secular and sacred works, classical and popular music. Some of these works has such a unique nature that they have become timeless. And in spite of the fact that they are originally mostly composed making use of voice, they also serve instrumental versions surprisingly good, even adding new dimensions to it. 


Eight Centuries of Songs is the new concert programme of the BLACK PENCIL Ensemble. The programme features an exciting selection of great song-hits from Medieval times till today, all compositions arranged by the ensemble members in close collaboration with the experienced Dutch composer Roderik de Man. The music portrays a great variety of styles and periods, including John Dowland, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, 13th century Cantigas de Santa Maria, Manuel de Falla, Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi,The Beatles, Frank Zappa and a short rock opera by Florian Magnus Maier!






Black Pencil’s performances are characterized by being original, historically informed, fresh and virtuosic, together with a unique instrumentation: blockflute (Jorge Isaac), panflute (Matthijs Koene), viola (Esra Pehlivanli), accordion (Marko Kassl) and percussion (Enric Monfort). 


Eight Centuries of Songs is a concert of ca. 75 minutes, with a lot of diversity, adventurous and surprising.







‘Composed meals’ is the key phrase for the newest project to come from BLACK PENCIL ensemble.

Kaiseki draws inspiration from the particular features of the Japanese kaiseki cuisine and its culinary traditions: attention to detail, use of space, avoidance of repetitions, variation, symmetry, seasonal characteristics and the sound of eating itself. For this programme, the ensemble has worked with chef and culinary historian Patrick Faas, co-author of the book ‘Yamazato’ and a leading authority in his field.


The programme consists of works by composers such as Roderik de Man (1941), Arnoud Noordegraaf (1974), Robert van Heumen (1969), Marcel Wierckx (1971), and also introduces a range of young Japanese composers, including Noriko Koide (1982). These new compositions are connected through a series of arrangements of honkyoku (traditional pieces from the 13th century for shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute), interludes (short improvisations) and the use of live electronics.


Setsubun’ Kaiseki winter dish of Yamazato (Amsterdam)


Kaiseki is brought to life by BLACK PENCIL ensemble, using their extraordinary combination of blockflute, panflute, viola, percussion and accordion. Aside from their unusual setting, this ensemble sets itself apart from the rest by performing programmes rich in influences from a range of folk cultures.


During the concert, a succinct account of the magic behind the kaiseki kitchen will be enthusiastically related to the audience by Patrick Faas, himself a fantastic speaker. His informative tidbits will be accompanied by an electronically manipulated musical background – the sounds of chewing and slurping, the clink of cutlery, merry diners at the table.


After the concert, both side dishes and complete meals will be available to buy, specially prepared in a way that links the kaiseki concept to the new musical works!


The improvised interludes will be performed in a range of settings, for example the astounding combination of blockflute and panflute. The percussion is also performed by the entire ensemble, such as the virtuosic clattering of knives on pots and pans. Sometimes fast and aggressive, sometimes mysterious and soft, the music gallops from the chaotic to the meditative. The sumptuous sound colours of the combined instruments create an invigorating concert, that is yet accessible enough to completely lose oneself in.



Original scene from 'Tampopo' by Juzo Itami (Content Warning!)



The instrument collection of BLACK PENCIL is perfectly suited to capture and convey the Japanese sound aesthetic. For example, the timbre of the blockflute comes very close to the shakuhachi, and the panflute certainly no less.


The accordion has also taken up a prominent place in the Japanese contemporary music scene. This is not only thanks to many active ambassadors of the instrument, but also due to the character of its sound, reminiscent of the sh? – also known as the Japanese mouth organ.


Percussive instruments are also naturally present throughout the history of traditional Japanese music.


Black Noise White Silence, a computer-generated audiovisual work by Marcel Wierckx


Kaiseki is a concert of ca. 75 minutes. The core team consists of virtuosic and versatile musicians, all fixed members of the ensemble.
Jorge Isaac – blockflute, electronics
Matthijs Koene – panflute
Esra Pehlivanli – viola
Marko Kassl – accordion
Enric Monfort – percussion


Special guest:
Patrick Faas - chef




- Roderik de Man (1941): Kaiseki Music (2014) *
for blockflute, panflute, viola, accordion, percussion and electronics


- Noriko Koide (1982): Saijiki (2014) **
for blockflute, panflute, viola, accordion, and percussion


- Robert Van Haumen (1969): A Short Piece of Decay (2014) *
for blockflute, panflute, viola, accordion, percussion and electronics


- Marcel Wierckx (1971): Lophiidae Esculentus (2014) **
for blockflute, panflute, viola, accordion, percussion and video


- Arnoud Noordegraaf (1974): Tampopo (2014) *
for blockflute, panflute, viola, accordion, percussion and video


* commissioned by the Performing Arts Fund NL

** commissioned by VisiSonor



Documentary 'Kaiseki: The Ultimate Expression of Japanese Cuisine'




Commedia dell’Arte is the standard name given to Italian improvised plays with masked ‘types’ from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Commedia Dell’Arte is the first instance of professional acting in history. It staged the comic sides of everyday life, taking its subjects from the lower classes of society. From 1545 onwards it was solely performed by professional actors.


The initial contents of the play were put in a scenario upon which the actors improvised. They put in as many references to current events and well-known personalities as possible.


Between scenes the actors performed humorous interruptions such as carefully planned tirades or acrobatic feats, complemented with music, dance and pantomime.

The five fixed characters from the Commedia Dell’Arte are Dottore, Pantalone, the Captain, Punchinello and Colombina. In late 16th century Venice, the masked commedia was staged by acrobatic dancers, actors, charlatans and buffoni.


This last group consisted of professional artists, performing as soloists or as part of a bigger ensemble in a dizzying variety of setups with visual humour. They made use of musical instruments, acrobatics, dance and many theatrical imitations. In short, they were artists of many talents.



The programme Buffoni! draws its inspiration from these characteristics of the Commedia dell’Arte, as well as the versatility of the buffoni: grotesque esthetics, constant dialogue, improvisation, hierarchy, outlining of characters (from the farcical Scaramooche to the thoughtful Columbine), accessibility and emotion. This is also the guideline for the new compositions.


The new compositions are connected to each other by  Interludes, short improvisations and own arrangements of master works of the past inspired by Commedia dell’Arte, such as Ouverture Burlesque by Georg Philipp Telemann (1717-22, Scaramouches, Harlequinade, Mezzetin and Turc), Suite italienne by Igor Stravinsky (1933) and the five voices Balleti a Cinque Voci by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (published in 1591).


BLACK PENCIL performs the programme 'Buffoni!'.

Live at De Doelen-Rotterdam, December 2013. All works inspired by Commedia dell'arte.

Music by Guus Janssen, Roderik de Man, Frank Zabel, Nico Huijbregts, Igor Stravinsky, Georg Philipp Telemann and Giovanni G. Gastoldi a.o.


The thematic content of the Commedia dell’Arte in this project is mainly developed in the commissioned musical compositions.


As in the Commedia dell’Arte, there will not be an elaborate stage setting. Instead, it is minimalist, such as a temporary elevation in the street. Tables and stools make up an alternative stage to be used for the interludes. But strict staging will also allow room for light and subtle humor.



Instruments are used as props: the percussion (actual percussion instruments, but also bottles, chains, pots and pans, cups, saucers, saws, etc.) are scattered across the stage, large recorders hang at different points (the entire recorder family will be used in this production), and a very large bass panflute made out of carbon and placed behind the actors will determine the overall look of the stage. The bass panflute (1,5 meters across and its lowest pipe almost 2 meters high, the biggest ever built!) has been specially designed for this project by panflute builder Ion Preda from Bucharest.


This stage gives the musicians flexibility and suggests a spontaneous arrangement, although it is based on a very exact setup for the performance. At the beginning, the musicians will be wearing classical concert attire; as the programme progresses, coloured accents will appear in the black dinner jackets and shoes will change appearance as well; the performance will end in a multi-coloured finale. Instrumental music becomes a spectacle in which no one is what they seem to be.

Buffoni! is a concert of ca. 80 minutes, full of contrast and diversity: adventurous, grotesque and surprising.






The traditional Música Llanera arises on the flat plains (Los Llanos) of the river Orinoco in Venezuela and Colombia. This music, mostly composed by rural farmers, thunders forward in a fierce gallop and has been over the years a source of inspiration for many folk composers, singers and writers. 


In the Joropo, a popular music and dance kind, the musical traditions of South American aboriginals melt together with that of African slaves and Spanish colonists.  The merge results in continuous and peerless grooves, pounding feet and simple tunes that cut straight through the soul. 


Joropo is one of the fastest and most popular folk rhythms; couples dance face to face holding hands, using a particular movement of the feet, and portraying a clear difference between masculine and feminine. It is a dance with a constant pulse, and identifies the “llaneros”. The typical ensembles that plays this music includes harp, the bandola (a small pear-shape chordophone), the cuatro (a small 4-strings guitar) and other autochthonous instruments, accompanied by maracas  (castanet shaker) and mostly with voice. 



mask for the folk dance ‘Diablos de Llare’


The performance Pulso Llanero gets its inspiration from the unexampled characteristics of the Joropo genre: a complex rhythmical structure that is associated with a folkloric tradition, smooth and organic alternation of tempi, sharp and percussive character.


Pulso Llanero features a unique combination of new contemporary works specially written for the project, together with sparkling arrangements of folk tunes from the northern coast of South-America.


The line up of Ensemble Black Pencil for this program consists of Blockflutes (Jorge Isaac), Panflute (Matthijs Koene), Viola (Esra Pehlivanli), Percussion (Enric Monfort), and Accordion (Marko Kassl).  The program consists of new works written by the Dutch composersRoderik the Man (1941), Chiel Meijering (1954), André Douw (1961), Nico Huijbregts (1961), Michiel Mensingh (1975) and South-American composers from different generations, such as Mirtru Escalona–Mijares (Venezuela/France, 1976) and Louis Aguirre (Cuba/Denmark, 1968).


Pulso Llanero is a performance of ca.  65 minutes, full of contrast and diversity.  The performance combines unique instrumental sounds (including an original mixture of typical percussion instruments from South-American) and virtuosic instrumental music, sometimes serene and lyrical, sometimes restless and freely aggressive, pleasantly complex in colour and rhythm. An exciting performance with endless inspiration. 









miniature by Mehmet Siyah Kalem



"I am Mehmed the Black Pencil, master of humans and Jinns..."

Mehmed Siyah Kalem (Mehmed the Black Pencil) became known with those words for centuries. Nothing is certain about his life, but his work indicates that he was thoroughly familiar with camp and military life as they depicted nomads, ordinary people, dervishes, Christian monks, Buddhists, shamans etc. The paintings appear in the “Conqueror’s Albums,” so named because two portraits of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror are present in one of them. The albums are made up of miniatures taken from manuscripts of the 14th, 15th, and early 16th centuries.


The uniqueness in the art of Siyah Kalem (Black Pencil) lies in his depictions of supernatural creatures. The essence and inspiration of the ‘BLACK PENCIL’ performance is derived from the expressive power of those miniatures. A blend between illusion and illustration, sometimes flat, sometimes exuberant, electro-acoustic sounds together with the sound of traditional Turkish instruments. 




The ensemble features Jorge Isaac (blockflutes), Esra Pehlivanli (viola), Matthijs Koene (panflute), Mehmet Polat (ud) and Enric Monfort (percussion). Optional video images are also possible, performed live by Marcel Wierckx. The video projection frames the audience in a dynamic way, comprising visuals that mirror the aesthetics and colours of the original miniatures by Mehmed Siyah Kalem.


The program includes works by Dutch and Turkish composers with different roots and styles, namely Roderik de Man (1941), Selim Dogru (1971), Gökçe Altay (1975), Mehmet Can Ozer (1981), Yigit Kolat (1984), Hakan Toker (1976) and Tolga Ozdemir (1975).


The flow and tension of the performance remains surprising, rich in colour, in a fluid musical trip. 


The total duration of the program is ca.  75 minutes, without pause. 







Selim Dogru (1971): Six Scenes (2010) **

for blockflute, panflute, viola, ud and percussion


Interlude 1 (Tolga Ozdemir: Karadeniz)

for viola and vibraphone


Gökçe Altay (1975): Efendi (2010) *

for blockflute, panflute, viola, ud, percussion and TAPE


Interlude 2 (Hakan Toker: Notenbuch)

for viola and vibraphone


Interlude 3

for panflute solo


Yigit Kolat (1984): Miniatures (2010) *

for blockflute, panflute, viola, ud, percussion and electronics


Interlude 4 (B.C. Manjunath/Duo)

for contrabass blockflute and cajón

Interlude 5 (Mehmet Polat/Curious)

for ud solo


Interlude 6 (Tolga Ozdemir/Pantoral) *

for blockflute, panflute, viola, ud and percussion


Roderik de Man (1941): Black Pencil Music (2010) **

for blockflute, panflute, viola, percussion and electronics


* Commissioned by the VisiSonor Foundation

** Commissioned by the Performing Arts Fund NL