How a classical musician ended up recording E-Cello on CD

“Stagioni” E-Cello improvisations by Mayke Rademakers

Classical musician Mayke Rademakers recorded her first CD with the E-Cello and a loop station. The CD “Stagioni” was released in February 2018 on Challenge Records and has a daring combination of Hildegard von Bingen, Sephardic folk, blues, minimal music and elements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. We spoke with Mayke about her struggle, challenge, motivation and inspiration to record this new project in her classical musician life.

What is your CD Stagioni representing?

“Stagioni is about the miracle of birth, the beauty and the struggle of life, the rituals of man and nature and eternity. Everything I have gained from experience as a musician has shaped me. That is, in the first place, my classical education. I have always been very curious, and I have always been strongly influenced by other forms and styles in music in general. I tried to bring that together in Stagioni.

Inspiration from everyday life

Life has given me a lot of beautiful and blissful experiences, but also sadness. All that has made me human as I am now, I have tried to translate that into emotion and sound. In a somewhat more concrete context is the leitmotiv of Stagioni, the theme that runs through the work as a guideline, which is inspired by the beautiful birdsong that I heard in my garden when spring started.”

Seasons of Life

“Destino” is based on my marriage and family, which I created when my daughter took her first steps toward independence. “Rituale” is inspired by Ravel’s Bolero and its ever-returning motifs that are a metaphor for rituals in my and everyone’s life. In “Rivoltoso” I have processed most of Vivaldi’s stagioni, the jazzy groove and percussion in the middle section translate my own rebellion that does not want to conform to the “normal”. “Epilogo“ was written when it became clear that my father entered his last days on earth.”

Learn to let go

“I had to learn how to improvise. It means letting go of control. That is easy said, but it is also a quest. One day it succeeds and the other it doesn’t. You can not force improvisation. I had to learn to let go. I was used to hearing results after a few hours of study and preparation for a concert, and it was often frustrating in my preparations for Stagioni. Sometimes I had a full week without any result. In the process, I learned not getting results was good for something: apparently, the time was needed, and there was something breeding that would come to fruition at the right time. “

Learning to trust your inner voice

“I was also learning to trust my inner voice, which I can only hear when the internal is quiet. Apart from letting go, it works liberating, because I can make my inner voice be heard and I do not have to wonder what the composer’s intention was. That is freeing and gives a lot of satisfaction. The strange thing is that I dare to say that it has also enriched me as a classical musician: I have also become a more relaxed and happier person.”

How does a classical musician get used to a loop station?

“The E-Cello is a relatively new instrument; it has not yet conquered its true place in the world of classical music. It presents an enormous spectrum of sound colours as well as the possibility of polyphony when played in conjunction with a loop and other effect pedals. I needed to consider the loop station as an instrument. That was a real challenge, cause there are some technical aspects involved. But my motivation and patience also helped me over those bumps. And fortunately, I had gathered some people around me who supported me.”

The improvising process

“In the period before really sitting down and composing and improvising, I deliberately opened my mind to let myself be influenced by everything that I found interesting about sound. For example, a rhythm or a theme, but also a thunderous train or a tinkling glass, a footstep or whatever sound. Everywhere I heard rhythms or was caught by a melody. Sometimes I woke up and then I had a melody in my head. Then I had to get out of bed and write it down. I have collected and written down all ideas, thematic, harmonic, melodic material. After a couple of months, I started to organise. When I had roughly the structure of the piece on the loop station, I started to work out the separate parts. Some parts were elementary and some very difficult. This was mainly related to learning to work with the Loop station. But there were also days when I was so inspired and that it gave me so much energy that everything flowed and arose. When had finished, I had the feeling that everything had worked up to that moment in my life. Grateful and with great satisfaction I now look back on this whole process.”

Combining Hildegard von Bingen, Sephardic folk music, blues, minimal music and elements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Isn’t it quite a challenge?

“Vivaldi’s four seasons have one thing in common: they find their origin in the modality. And although the styles naturally vary greatly, I could make the connection between through modality. Moreover, the music of Hildegard von `Bingen and the Sephardic music have a common factor: both styles are permeated by spirituality. I have also discovered that the four seasons of Vivaldi have quite a few minimalistic aspects, and by placing motifs and themes from this work in a different context, I could also make a very nice connection with minimalistic music. The blues elements I have added have become almost a kind of mediaeval blues through all these connections and have become, for me, an exciting combination of von Bingen and Vivaldi.”

“The four seasons that pass by a sound like an autobiography in tone and make the listener almost a voyeur, so personal shivers, smiles, cries and dances every note. It makes this CD a true statement.” (Luister)

Music from the soul level

“I can only be a real musician if I try to be true in everyday life. Meaning that music forces me to live from the soul level and not from the ego. In a world depending on interests, matter and self-gain, that is not easy. Moreover, the competition is enormous, and finding a balance between creativity and the necessary peace is at odds with activities such as PR image and commerce. Fortunately, I have people around me who are unconditional in their believe in me and take a lot of time to support me with their expertise. For me in the end, it’s crucial staying true to myself.”

Mayke’s website

Contact Mayke Rademakers

Stagioni on iTunes and Challenge Records