Through their music, cultures will meet.
By Michael Hartmann. Photos by Sasha Avramchik. October 27, 2023.
Playing piano under the northern lights?
In front of a castle?
Connecting classical and popular music?
Yes, yes and yes.
It seems that nothing is impossible for Daniel Verstappen. The Belgian pianist and composer will perform in London and Reykjavik next week, as a part of his Reconnection Tour that continues its journey through Europe and beyond.
– The difference between the concerts? London will be a full acoustic concert and Reykjavik will be an immersive show with lights and electronics, Daniel tells me.
-Also, I invited the Iceland choir Hljomfelagid to perform my songs. We also will bring a few Iceland songs together, a bridge Between Cultures.
There’s more. Marina Barskaya is joining Daniel in London and Reykjavik.
-Marina is an amazing musician. We have known each other for more than 10 years. From the first moment we played together we felt a strong musical connection. We started to play together during my orchestra time at the Brussels Philharmonic. After some years, I asked Marina to perform in my shows. These days she is my main soloist during my concerts.
A youngster from Limburg, Belgium, a piano became Daniel’s soulmate. Barely five years old, he was playing his favorite instrument.
As a child and during his studies at the conservatory, he was inspired by epic masterpieces by classical composers. He later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven.
At an early age, Daniel is already touring Europe, playing at The Night Of The Proms and performing with the Brussels Philharmonic.
In 2020, he released his new album and launched his live show Reconnection, referring to “reconnecting” with ourselves in a new world. On stage, all compositions come to life in a live immersive experience of 3D visuals, a light show, live musicians, and special acts.
St John’s Smith Square: An amazing feeling
Daniel and Marina’s next concert will take place in London. St John’s is a building with a long history. Despite fires, lightning, and the Blitz, it has survived. How does it feel for Daniel to perform his music and interact with an audience in a building that has such a rich history?
-It’s an amazing feeling to perform in such a venue, especially with such a rich history. To imagine what all happened there and then performing my own music in this grandeur venue, that’s very special.
Harpa Reykjavik: Modern and epic
Harpa Reykjavik is a striking landmark. The building is a modern masterpiece. It has won numerous architectural awards. In many ways, it is the opposite of St John’s in London.
-It’s modern, it’s epic, it’s extraordinary, as I define myself as a person and artist. Daniel says. -I combine the classical world with the modern world. So I can love both styles, especially when a classical historical building is renovated and makes a bridge between classic and modern.
VIDEO: Reykjavik! See you in Harpa. Have a look:
Daniel and Marina: Bridging cultures
A royal performance
On February 5, 2022, Daniel was invited to perform at the World Expo in Dubai as part of the “Belgian Day.” In the presence of the Belgian royal couple and statesmen including the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, he plays an unforgettable concert.
On March 19, he performed on the outdoor stage of the Belgian pavilion and the following day in front of the Romanian pavilion. There he plays on the grand piano of the leading German piano manufacturer Blüthner.
-Being able to represent my country in front of our King and Queen at this World Expo was a unique experience that I will cherish for life. Being able to speak to Queen Mathilde herself and present her with my album was the icing on the cake. To be invited to play again in Dubai is a beautiful appreciation for my work.
A French garden fairytale
Our journey continues to Maasmechelen, Belgium, and to a castle you would only expect to find in fairytales. Here, Daniel played the piano, right in the middle of the French Garden in front of the majestic Terhills Hotel.
Watch the beautiful video here:
Vivaldi under the Northern lights
In a game of dexterity, Daniel Verstappen transformed Vivaldi’s Winter violins into a new piano concerto with orchestral and electronic elements. In order to visualize the music, the crossover pianist went north. He shot a music video in the fairytale-like Piteå, Sweden.
With his camera crew, Daniel managed to capture the northern lights in combination with the piano on a frozen lake. In the video, he continues his journey through the northern landscape, beautifully portraying arctic flora and fauna.
You have probably never heard Vivaldi’s Winter like this…
Classical masterpieces coming up
Back to the present. What can fans in London and Reykjavik expect from Daniel and Marina?
Daniel: – These concerts are part of my Reconnection tour, which means I will perform my songs from my album. We will also perform our own arrangements of famous classical masterpieces including the Four Seasons, Swan Lake, Dance Macabre, In The Hall of The Mountain King, and more.
He continues: -On top, I have a primeur, my new song Ice on Fire, which was written together with Marina and her husband Amine Doukali. We will perform the song for the first time in Harpa and we will record the video in the same period in Iceland. The release of the song and video will be in the new year. I am very excited!
For tickets to the concert at St John’s Smith Square, (Sunday 29 October, 7 PM), please visit sjss.org.uk
For tickets to the concert at Harpa Reykjavik (Wednesday 1 November 19:30), please visit harpa.is
Listen to Reconnections on Spotify:
Enjoy this live stream of Daniel and Marina, from the Reconnection tour in Sweden at the Eric Ericsonhallen in Stockholm:
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Read about Michael Hartmann here.
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