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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
June 13, 2017
Introducing WWMD Participants: Brigitte van Hagen

With one week left until World Wide Music Day, we would like to introduce you to our local supporter, friend, and opera singer Brigitte van Hagen, who is collaborating with us on organizing and performing at our Amsterdam-based event ‘Friends For Musicians’, on June 21st in Splendor

1. How did you find your way to music?

Music was there my whole life! But classical music captured my interest when a school friend of mine was singing. I was mesmerized by the beautiful bright sound!

2. Your biography tells us that opera is not your only passion. What made you expand your musical activities from performing to event production?

The Netherlands can be a bit conservative. Only the traditional ensembles get the big funding. But the audience might want something else. We live in a world that is mixed with all kinds of people and religions, all kinds of fights and wars and all kinds of beauty and love. Music is the best way to connect without fear, without anger and with pure curiosity. So we can discover the world of others, understand each other better and enrich our own way of performing.

3. Can you tell us more about the chosen music for the evening and the other performers?

Remy van Kesteren is one of the musicians. He wrote his own music, I took this music as a starting point. His music already connects. He is playing his songs together with the Matangi Quartet. He wrote the lyrics himself. Jawa Manla is also searching for connection to the western culture with her oud and her voice. So she asked me to sing together with her. Since Spain is an example of how Islamic and Western cultures could live together (although it went wrong at a certain point) I wanted to add some Spanish music. I chose  The Siete Canciones Populares Espagnolas, seven songs which I will perform together with the Matangi Quartet and Remy van Kesteren.

4. As a musician, have you experienced yourself the power of change music can evoke? If so, would you share your experience with us?

This is just an example of my experiences: When I was on tour in the Philippines, I noticed huge differences between the people living there. Not only in their income but also in the way they listen to music. The more wealthy people take music a bit for granted, even though they enjoyed me singing. They let their servants make videos, so they could ‘be there’ during the performance. At one of my concerts the servant boy finally found the time to record some of the music with his own phone. The next day I was told that the boy was singing along the recording of Ave Maria, while cleaning the house. That made me happy and sad at the same time. I decided to start a project there where I’ll try to bridge the gap  between the rich and the poor using music. People have really lost each other and it’s getting worse and worse.

5. What are the main challenges for a musician-peacebuilder today?

To keep your own motor running. There are so many people I see who I want to help. Sometimes I just go on and on. I’m always searching for the right balance. What can I do for them? How does it get me further in life? Sometimes you need to take a step back to have an overview. And then again you can dive into details and help individuals, because that is the only way to really help. To connect and to inspire each other through music.

6. If you wanted to inspire people through music, what song/composition would you play?

L’invitation au voyage by H. Duparc. The poem by Baudelaire is so beautifully set. The text means a lot to me. The song is about the ships on the canals of Amsterdam, how they travelled the world to lie here in stillness. They experienced so much, and now they are just here, for you. It made me realise everything is possible as long as you want it badly.

•• Topics World Wide Music Day