Berten D’Hollander is a Belgian concert flutist and educator. His refined musicality, unique sound and exceptional virtuosity earned him a wide international recognition. His career spans over 30 years of performing, both as a soloist and a member of chamber groups. As an orchestra musician, he has collaborated with Flemish Opera, the National Orchestra of Belgium, and many others. Berten enjoys performing classical repertoire as well as new works, presenting them at the internationally renowned festivals of contemporary music, such as Warsaw Autumn in Poland and Clef du Soleil in Lille, France. He holds a position of Principal flutist at contemporary music ensemble Musique Nouvelles since 2001. Berten D’Hollander is a Visiting Professor of Flute at the University of Arkseniz in Antalya, Turkey. His masterclasses and performing presentations gained him a wide popularity all over the world.
Nina Siniakova enjoys an international career as a composer and a pianist. She is a musician of a diverse cultural background and broad interests. Her colleagues describe her compositional style as “unique and refine”, which in their opinion makes Nina Siniakova “one of the most interesting composers of her generation”. Nina Siniakova actively collaborates with the most prominent ensembles in the US and abroad, including Orchestra 2001, Network for New Music, Bacchanalia Baroque Ensemble NYC. She is a recipient of numerous national and international awards. As a pianist and a composer she has appeared at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Carnegie Weill Recital hall, Symphony Space, Zink jazz bar in New York, Harvard University, Beethoven House Bonn, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and many others. Official website: www.ninasiniakova.com
Nina Siniakova’s suite “Three Wishes” was written in 2014 and recorded with Berten D’Hollander on flute and Nina Siniakova on piano in June 2023 in Philadelphia. It was released on all platforms on August 1, 2023.
Flute: Berten D’Hollander
Piano, composer: Nina Siniakova
2023 Released by NS RecordsRecording, Mastering Engineer: David PasbrigFlute: Emanuel
Piano: Bösendorfer 280 VC
Piano Technician: David Bender
Recorded at Cunningham Piano Co, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Music Publisher: NS Publishing
1.”Weekend in Paris”
2. “Manhattan. Evening”
3. “Let’s Go to Rio!”
NS: Really in each other I think. Berten has an astounding, unique personality. In combination with his unbelievable humor and phenomenal musicality it is hard not to be influenced! His energy is contagious, I think he claims mine to be the same way.
2. Berten, you have been a principal flutist for the renowned ensemble of contemporary music “Musiques Nouvelles” for over twenty years, meaning your exposure to contemporary music is quite profound. What did you see in Nina’s piece that made you willing to record it and include it in your repertoire?
BDH: Nina’s music is absolutely unique. Whether she is writing a jazz piece or a contemporary intellectual work her ideas are very clear, her thinking is very sharp. For me as a performer it is really easy to follow her compositional logic. In regards to this suite, she believes it’s a very easy composition. Maybe for listeners, but definitely not for performers! She asks for a lot! Incredible amount of jumps, changing meters, very wide dynamic range, tremendously different musical characters. I guess what attracted me the most was the unique combination of fun and challenge- along with profound musicality. After we recorded the piece I have already performed it several times, in the US and in Hungary. The feedback is overwhelming!
3. Tell us about the “composer-performer collaboration”.
NS: Ha, that’s a tricky one. Berten has enough creative energy to cover 10 composers, but then again I play piano professionally and am engaged as a performer frequently. I think my role as a composer probably stops once I have a double line at the end of my piece. Once I get to the piano I am a performer. Having extensive experience as a performer, I prefer to give my musicians as much freedom as possible. I trust their own knowledge and taste, even if sometimes it doesn’t exactly go in line with my compositional vision, but is still convincing. That was especially pronounced in case with Berten, whose experience and talent brought us to unexplored places, so to say, which was really exciting. Even if “Three Wishes” were written before I met Berten, I was profoundly grateful for several of his remarks in regards to the performing details. He added a fantastic effect of pizzicato at the opening of “ Weekend in Paris” , found an absolutely unique, warm tone at the beginning of “Manhattan” and created a real drive in “Rio”. It was wonderful to observe how my music takes a new direction in his interpretation, how he uncovers elements that were always presented in my score, but maybe not always featured. Truly inspiring.4. What are some of the diverse backgrounds that became the foundation of this collaboration?
BDH: We actually just spoke about it during Nina’s recent visit to Brussels. I guess, in both cases we consider ourselves “citizens of the world”. As an actively performing artist I have been traveling most part of my life, Nina has lived in four different countries. By being exposed to diverse cultures, you learn to be independent of the country or people around you. You find sources to grow and develop within yourself. You learn to adopt quickly and deal with whatever is offered at a given moment- and be grateful. I guess that made us immediately “click” so to say.5. Upcoming projects?
NS: Quite a few! Hard not to be inspired by Berten’s astonishing talent and musicality. Since we met - and it was only a half a year ago- I have already written new pieces for flute and piano that incorporated crossover and folk, which is a new dimension for me. I am now writing a Flute concerto for Berten that we hope to premiere in the season 2024/2025 in London with British conductor Alexander Walker. I am intrigued by Berten’s ability to improvise and would like to see if we can do an improvisatory project - that would be another possible collaborative exploration. Fortunately, his talent can take so many different shapes that inspiration and ideas never end!
photos: Yulia Ulyanova