Opera from Suriname
The Helstone Fonds (Helstone Fund) was established by Astrid Helstone and Diederik Burgersdijk. Its aim is to finance the performance of works by the Surinamese writer, composer and musician Johannes N. Helstone, his students and other composers from the former Dutch colonies, and to increase public awareness of them.
Johannes Nicolaas Helstone
Johannes Nicolaas Helstone was born in the Hernhutters missionary post Berg en Dal on the Surinam River. A talented youth, Helstone was trained as a teacher, but devoted himself more and more to music. An opportunity arose to study at the conservatory in Leipzig; he graduated in 1894 and was a professional organist, pianist and composer, giving concerts in Berlin, Paris and Vienna.
Instead of further expanding his international career, he opted to return to his native land in order to help Surinamese culture develop further. He taught and was the organist of the Lutheran church and founder of the local Hernhutter Committee. He also wrote essays and studied Sranantongo, Surinam’s most widely spoken language, for which he created a grammar. In 1948 a monument to him was erected in Paramaribo.
Enriching the repertoire
The Concertgebouw Orchestra takes pleasure in finding new pieces with which to enrich the orchestral repertoire. There are many unknown and forgotten jewels that deserve to be performed and heard alongside the familiar standard repertoire.
The performance of Het pand der goden is not an isolated event. In future the orchestra will be highlighting more music by composers from, or with a background in, the former colonial territories.
The concert will be broadcast on NPO Klassiek via AVROTROS on Sunday, 18 February at 2 p.m.