Thursday night, 23 April 2015. My agenda shows a highlight in this last week of the month. For that purpose, I am on my way to Germany. I just bought a new car that has a lot of luxury despite its small size. Climate control and an integrated audio system and navigator that even accepts USB sticks with lots of guitar music. Consequently, the sounds of Raphaella Smits form a pleasant and quite appropriate background while I am headed for my destination.
I realize myself that it is a fifth anniversary, a Quinquennium. For the fifth time, I am heading for a guitar event that has built a firm reputation in Germany and abroad after such a short time. I enjoy the beautiful weather and the spring that shows itself in all trees of the woods around. It is sunny, clear and calm, at the horizon I see the plume of the smoke of the nuclear power station of Lingen. My destination, however, is Nordhorn, just beyond the German border and the first larger town on the road this target of many protest demonstrations by the Grünen, the German environmentalist faction.
For Bobby Rootveld, one of the important organisers of this festival, it is a double anniversary. Ten years ago, he started the Twente Guitar Festival as a co-organiser. This year this festival has its tenth edition.
On the Scandinavia Route around the town of Denekamp I stay behind a Polish truck out of necessity, the road is too shallow for evasive manoeuvres. I remember that the truck drivers have a parking place where they met, just over the border opposite the Tensundern supermarket. They socialize and stay there for the night, I guess there is no other reason for an international truck driver to stray away from the highway. For a change, the guy has a moderate tempo. Safety first on this narrow road! I take a look at the route signs near the road. They show Noord Deurningen and Nordhorn.
The Polish truck driver slows down and enters the parking lot just after the German border. I still have to drive for a while. The Guitar Festival Nordhorn –abbreviated GFN in the professional world– takes place in the Kulturhaus NIHZ in the eastern part of town. Over the years it has grown a meeting place for old and new friends.
Nordhorn itself did not change much, which is quite logical if you are there on a regular basis. Yet to my surprise I notice that the Kaufhalle is being demolished. Long years ago, we went there for cheap petrol and relatively cheap Duplo building blocks for the kids. Well, the kids have left home for years in the meantime, the oldest is thirty now!
Something did change! As a consequence of the construction of a little section of cycle track, the junction after the railway crossing near the Bahnhof has become more dangerous for motorists. I am alert. There is the street towards the parking lot behind the school.
I have some prizes with me for the amateur competitions, nice wire-bound versions of a part of the DOS Amigos Homepage collection. I am no partner of the festival for nothing!
Kulturhaus NIHZ in sight! The red van of the Rootveld family is already there. The fifth festival is about to start!
A quinquennial edition of this festival report is a nice opportunity to summarize the history of Kulturhaus NIHZ, the origin of the festival. That saves the trouble of browsing the reports of the previous years.
In 2011 Bobby en Sanna Rootveld-van Elst bought a commercial property with living facilities in the Mittelstrasse in Nordhorn. There they wanted to realize their dream of a centre for art and culture with an emphasis on music. For many years they had formed the guitar/recorder duo Niet in Het Zwart (Not Dressed In Black), abbreviated to NIHZ. It was quite obvious that their endeavour would carry the same name. In that way Kulturhaus NIHZ was born.
The old shop in the premises appeared to have great acoustics for chamber music. So it was converted into a concert hall with stage, stage lighting and a few support instruments like a piano and an organ. At the back side of the ground floor used to be offices and workshops. Fine locations for rooms for making and studying music and thus the Musikzimmer were created (we are in Germany after all). The kitchen and the hall on the ground floor were perfect to be converted into a portal and a bar for ticket sales and refreshments. Kaffee mit Kuchen (Coffee with Cake) forms an integral part of amusical night in Kulturhaus NIHZ.
Upstairs the house is an adventure. Two storeys and ample room to live yourself, to create a dormitory for the guests and have space left for music rooms. And what about the lounge with all kinds of rooms that almost scream to be developed? The development started indeed! In this way, the relax room was built with a little stage as well, a nice room for intimate concerts and jam sessions. It’s neighbourhood-friendly as well, because the sound isolation is top-notch. You can play a full swing rock band there without causing the neighbours sleepless nights.
A space like this enables lots of events to be organised. In this way five years ago the Guitar Festival Nordhorn, Recorder Festival Nordhorn and the Accordion Festival Nordhorn were established. Festivals with all provisions under one roof. The guest rooms enable a comfortable stay, you don’t have to walk to a hotel in the middle of the night, you can stay for a drink and socialize nicely (and play music) until early in the morning if you like and of course the organisation permits (they need their night’s rest too!).
The development of the premises of Kulturhaus NIHZ kept pace with the evolution of the festivals. The lounge was constructed, the sanitary facilities were extended to meet the growing demands and an environment-friendly heater system was added. The furnishing was not forgotten either, the concert hall is used for art expositions. Being there, you’ll notice delight for both the ears and the eyes!
Enough said about the construction details, let’s discuss the festival itself. The recurring part of the GFN consists of the guitar competitions, master classes, workshops and concerts.
This year we had three competitions. Category 1 for the professionals and guitar students. Regarding the continuously rising number of international participants and the high level of performance, this competition has clearly gained reputation on global level. The Category 2 competition is intended for amateurs, over the years it appeared that more and more guitar hobbyists found their way to the arena. The new competition this year is the Cat. 3 competition Beste Gitarrist/Gitarristin von Nordhorn that aims for the guitarists from the region, adding a local component to the international reputation.
Kulturhaus NIHZ has been able to book quite a number of famous guitarists for master classes and concerts. Celebrities like Denis Azabagic, Lorenzo Micheli, Alberto Mesirca and Zoran Dukic already appeared. For both professionals and amateurs these master classes are a great way to meet well-known and experienced players that provide personal attention and give hints concerning the pieces that you play for them during the class.
Workshops deal with aspects of life on a small or bigger stage. Theatre Sports for Guitarists provides instructions for stage presentation and concert preparation in a light-hearted and humoristic manner, using well-designed realistic exercises.
Besides playing yourself, the best way to enjoy music and to learn from it is listening. The concerts are the perfect opportunities for this. The festival used to have many concerts, often twice a day, this year there are even more as a consequence of the lounge concert formula. These late-night concerts provide music in an intimate setting. Consequently, this report will contain many more concert related subjects than the years before.
In brief, the Nordhorn Guitar Festival, GFN, is a fine guitar event that indeed deserves a visit, not only by players, but by music lovers as well! This year’s edition is the subject of this report, in the meantime the next edition in 2016 has already been planned!
Commission for Fortification of the Inner Man
This commission with a long name played an important role during the festival. Because those that play guitar well must eat well too!
Hard working members of this commission were Fred and Angie Rootveld, Henk and Martin Olden, Pallavi Sudhir, Marie-Luise Peperkamp and Felim Sheridan. Additionally, undersigned provides some hand- and carry services at peak hours.
A lot of work had to be done indeed! Starting with the provisioning, you need quite a van to transport all stuff for three days breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day you have to prepare the tables for breakfast and dinner and remove everything afterwards for washing-up. The kitchen crew has to prepare dinner for 50 persons a day and to organise sandwiches, soup and meat balls for lunch. In the meantime, they must make sure that there are sufficient clean plates, cups and cutlery and that the bar is manned.
Much to be done behind the scene, but no problem for the commission. A big Thank You for all volunteers that make up the oil in the machinery of the festival!