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Workers Union by Louis Andriessen, performed by Crash Ensemble. Photo courtesy of the artists.


​​CANCELLED Sunday 04 March / 9pm (60 mins)
Studio Stage NCH

New Music Dublin 2018 doesn't go quietly!

To mark the end of the festival, Crash Ensemble and a crack band of festival musicians join in a joyous mass rendition of Louis Andriessen's Workers Union; a symphonic movement for loud sounding instruments… with the emphasis on LOUD.

Each ticket comes with a free drink and an invite to the closing reception in the NCH Studio.

not only the leading Dutch composer of our time, but one of the most important figures in European music in the last half century, whose influence has spread far beyond that of his own works.

The Guardian, about Louis Andriessen

Workers Union (1975) is a composition by Louis Andriessen intended for any loud-sounding group of instruments; Andriessen did not want to handicap orchestras by providing a list of instruments.

Workers Union was originally written for the orchestra De Volharding (Perseverance), in which I myself figured as a pianist at that time. This piece is a combination of individual freedom and severe discipline: its rhythm is exactly fixed; the pitch, on the other hand, is indicated only approximately, on a single-lined stave. It is difficult to play in an ensemble and to remain in step, sort of like organising and carrying on political action. - Louis Andriessen



Composed by

Louis Andriessen, Workers Union

Crash Ensemble is Ireland’s leading new music ensemble; a group of world-class musicians who play the most adventurous, groundbreaking music of today.

Founded in 1997 by composer Donnacha Dennehy, clarinettist Michael Seaver and pianist/composer Andrew Synnott, some of the most distinctive living composers have written for the group, including Terry Riley, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Louis Andriessen, Arnold Dreyblatt, Kevin Volans, Glen Branca, Nico Muhly and Gerald Barry.

Many well-known artists from diverse musical backgrounds have performed with the ensemble; Gavin Friday, Íarla Ó Lionáird (The Gloaming), Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Sam Amidon, Dawn Upshaw, Julie Feeney, Lisa Hannigan and Beth Orton.

As well as performing throughout Ireland, Crash regularly perform internationally, with appearances in the last few years at the Edinburgh International Festival, The Royal Opera House (London), The Barbican (London), Carnegie Hall (NYC) The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington DC), Virginia Tech (Virginia), GAIDA Festival (Lithuania) and residencies at The Huddersfield Contemporary Music festival (UK) and Princeton University (NJ).

Composer Louis Andriessen was born in Utrecht into a musical family headed by his father Hendrik Andriessen, one of the recognized pioneers of modern Dutch music. Louis Andriessen began his musical studies with his father, and then studied in The Hague with Kees van Baaren, and later in Milan with Luciano Berio. Early Andriessen works are serial, but by 1963 he was working with graphic notation, as in the piano piece Registers, using a combination of fixed and non-fixed elements to facilitate improvisation. In 1969, Andriessen participated in his first large-scale theatrical "happening," Reconstructie, at the Holland Festival in collaboration with Ton de Leeuw, Misha Mengelberg, Peter Schat, and Jan van Vlijmen. In 1970, Andriessen swore off writing music for standard symphonic ensembles for good, a decision that was to profoundly impact his development. For a time, he worked in electronic music; his first venture into theater on his own with Il Principe. Andriessen experienced a creative breakthrough in 1976, with De Staat, a large work based on Plato's Republic sung in the original Greek, combining ancient Greek scales, Stravinskyian rhythms, repetition, and hocket. De Staat earned Andriessen the coveted Kees van Baaren Prize, and since then he has garnered numerous awards, citations, and commissions. The unusual instrumentation of De Staat deserves mention: four women's voices, four oboes, four horns, four trumpets, four trombones, two electric guitars, bass guitar, two pianos, two harps, and four violas.

"All that whining about textural sonorous fields and special instrumental effects bores me," Andriessen has said. "Instrumentation must correspond to the structure of the music." Andriessen often uses rock instruments, such as electric guitar, bass, and synthesizer to augment his ensembles. Andriessen also composes music designed to challenge the talents of specific performers; Forget-Me-Not requires an oboist to also play piano, and in TAO there is a part for a pianist who speaks and also plays the koto. Andriessen is regarded to some extent as an ensemble builder; Orkest de Volharding is a group he formed to play the same-named Andriessen work, and the ensemble came together afterward to program and commission other repertoire. In the United States, performing groups such as the California Ear Unit and Bang On A Can have eagerly programmed and recorded Andriessen works such as Workers Union and Hoketus. Younger composers view the work of Andriessen as an alternative to academic serialism and American minimalism, and aspiring composers from many nations have come to Holland to study with him at the Royal Conservatory at The Hague. After De Staat, Andriessen's major works have included De Tijd, Facing Death for the Kronos Quartet, and Trilogy of the Last Day. He collaborated with stage director Robert Wilson on the four-part De Materie in 1989. In the 1990s, a fruitful collaboration with film director Peter Greenaway led to several works, including the films M is for Man, Music, Mozart and the operas Rosa - A Horse Drama and Writing to Vermeer, which premiered in 1999. Sometimes didactic in his defense of his progressive political views, Andriessen is nevertheless far from humorless. His penetrating insight as an essayist on topics such as Stravinsky may be read in his book The Apollonian Clockwork, published in 1989. Andriessen has said "I don't feel comfortable with composers like Schoenberg who always push ahead in one direction. I prefer the jacks-of-all-trades: the Purcells and Stravinskys, who are at home anywhere, borrowing here, and stealing there." His popularity with young listeners and presence on the scene has provided an unprecedented boost to the prominence of contemporary Dutch music throughout the world.

Media Credits

musical credits: Workers Union by Louis Andriessen, performed by Crash Ensemble.

Header: Crash Ensemble. Photo courtesy of the artists.
Gallery image:
Louis Andriessen.

Louis Andriessen

Read a guide to the music of Louis Andriessen