The World's Leading
Pop & Jazz Orchestra

Winner of 3 Grammy Awards
17 Grammy Nominations

Metropole 2016 Rewind

Photo: BBC/Mark Allan

With fond memories we look back on 2016, another year with many projects we as Metropole Orkest are very proud of. It was a year of celebrations, there were artistic highlights, there was the uncertainty surrounding our funding… But above all we hope to have entertained a large and divers crowd and are looking forward to continuing to do so in 2017!

A few orchestra musicians, our chief conductor Jules Buckley and managing director Marc Altink (who will be resigning in 2017) tell us their personal highlights.

With the help of several partners, we’ve continued to build our educational efforts in 2016. There was the start of the new initiative ‘Jong Metropole’, a collaboration between the Nationaal Jeugd Orkest and the Nationaal Jeugd Jazz Orkest (with support from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Keep an Eye Foundation) with the aim to prepare young talented musicians from the classical and light music worlds for their professional career. Over the summer these talents were offered several inspiring workshops and they got the opportunity to perform at some pretty special venues, including Radio Kootwijk and Burger’s Zoo. In addition the primary school lessons ‘Metropole op School’ were extended to include more age groups and we were able to organise more projects with our Metropole Academy. Managing director Marc Altink: “We are very aware of the importance of education and are pleased that, together with our partner Young Crowds, we are able to contribute to music in classrooms. Amazingly over 100,000 children in primary schools are using ‘Metropole op School’. We also take our responsibility when it comes to talent development. The MO Academy is very popular amongst conservatory students and with the help of funds we are able to continue these projects in 2017.”

The first concerts of 2017 were those with the multi-talented Reinier Baas and Ben van Gelder. Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, who has been playing with the orchestra for years and will officially become a member of the sax section on January 1st, fondly remembers this project. “It was great to work with two truly great Dutch jazz musicians, both with their own awesome ‘sound’.”

The concert in the Westergastheater was recorded and can be viewed and listened to in full on MO app for iOS and Android. In april 2017 we will once again perform with Baas en Van Gelder at the Transition Festival in Utrecht.

The ultimate highlight of 2016 must be winning our 3rd Grammy with Snarky Puppy for ‘Sylva’. We consider this a recognition for all the orchestra’s hard work under Jules Buckley’s leadership after the severe funding cuts in 2013. Jules and Snarky Puppy were at the award show in Los Angeles on 15 February and got to accept the Grammy while the orchestra musicians, staff and friends were watching via a lifestream in Hilversum. The burst of joy after the announcement was part of the morning news the next day. The bookers of the North Sea Jazz Festival brought the two groups together again on Dutch soil in the summer. Jules Buckley: “That concert was the culmination of a huge journey for the talented folk of Snarky Puppy and ourselves. The audience was electric and I will remember this performance for many years to come.”

In March American singer Cécile McLorin Savant came to the Netherlands. If you weren’t able to attend these concerts, you’ve missed out. Julia Jowett (viola): “Cécile is a true star and with honorary conductor Vince Mendoza and the Metropole Orkest we had 3 Grammy winners on 1 stage!”. Baritone sax player Max Boeree on the concert in Hilversum: “At this concert in particular everything came together. The orchestra was in great shape, the studio looked good, an incredible soloist and Vince’s fantastic arrangements.”

Ray Bruinsma’s favourite project of 2016? “De Avond van de Filmmuziek was probably the most fun for me. John Williams is a hero of mine, playing the trumpet parts of his music is a grateful job.”  

For this project extra instruments were added to the orchestra’s usual line-up. More french horns, bassoons, tuba and of course additional strings. A great occasion to offer the strings of the Metropole Academy a chance to shine on one of the Netherlands most impressive stages. In March 2017 we will again be part of the fourth edition of the Avond van de Filmmuziek.

The month of April was dedicated to a national theatre tour with Brigitte Kaandorp. In 17 towns and cities throughout the country the orchestra was able to show off its versatility next to Kaandorp. One of the funniest women in the Netherlands introduced the sold-out venues to members of the orchestra and battled with Jules over control of the Metropole Orkest. The program contained music from the past and present history of the orchestra and Jules got to proof his background as a wedding singer. But the favorite song according to Joke Schonewille (harp) is the humorous dark ‘Zwaar Leven’ (translates to rough life). “The harp plays an essential part in that song and through earlier concerts with Brigitte this has become sort of an anthem, hahaha. Facing adversity, just sing this song out loud and it will instantly cheer you up.”

At the end of June we were awarded a second major music award. In light of our 70th birthday the Edison Stichting choose to honor us with the Edison Jazz/World Oeuvreprijs. The award was received by Vince Mendoza during the award show in Rotterdam.

The most memorable concert of 2016 according to many is the Quincy Jones Prom, How often do you get to honor a music legend and have him be present for it?! Let alone in the world famous Royal Albert Hall. Jules played a leading part in the development of the program and spend many months preparing this one night with the BBC and Quincy Jones’ production company. “A dream for the orchestra, and for me, to be given the chance to celebrate this incredible music in all it’s diversity. That night I truly felt that we made some kind of history together. The recognition of Q for the orchestra’s work gave us all such a lift.”

Both Joke Schonewille and Ray Bruinsma mention a composition by Jacob Collier as as the highlight of the evening. Joke: “Everyone was highly focused, every note meant something, you could hear a pin drop in the venue, it was a magical moment. I still get goosebumps thinking about that song on that evening in August.”

There was lots of fun to be had in the fall as well. October was a month of ‘firsts’ fir the Metropole Orkest. For the first time we were invited to the international acclaimed Amsterdam Dance Event. In a sold-out Melkweg a young audience listened attentively as we played orchestral dance music with Henrik Schwarz.

Ten days later we shared the stage with Kovacs in Hilversum and Carré. The concert in Hilversum was especially exciting for us, it being the very first ‘Metropole Session’. In an intimate setting in studio 5 in our home base (Muziekcentrum van de Omroep) the audience got to sit within or behind the orchestra, thus experiencing the music from a literal different perspective. The response afterwards encourages us to plan another ‘Metropole Session in 2017. In January we will be able to share some more songs of the session with Kovacs on our youtube channel!

We want to mention one final project, our collaboration with Hollie McNish: ‘Poetry versus Orchestra’. It combines socio-critical emotional poetry with a powerful spoken word performance and music by the Metropole especially written to accompany the performance. In October we released the music and poems on our own ‘MO Black’ label. The end product is a beautifully designed book + cd by Martin Pyper, who also created the stop-motion video for ‘Mathematics’.

The orchestra got the chance to present ‘Poetry versus Orchestra’ to a live audience in November. Isabella Petersen (viola) was there: “This gig was proof of a successful cross-cultural experiment: an enthusiastic, crowded venue full of young people”.