Translation of Jan Kuitebrouwer's column:
Save this band!
There we stood. The best audience in the world. Todd Rundgren said so himself. And what he also said, cried out, several times was this: Save this band! Please, Holland, find a way to save this incredible band!
Todd Rundgren performed in Paradiso, last Sunday. That band is the Metropole Orchestra, a word that probably isn't in the vocabulary of the biggest rock-cult-hero still alive, as the real Toddheads call him. NTR producer Co De Kloet organized it all for Radio 6. The Todd Rundgren with Orchestra Extravaganza Phase II was broadcast live by the radio-station, just like the first edition one year ago. Days of rehearsals in the Dutch Broadcasting Music Centre preceded the event. Rundgren tweeted that he had stayed up all night to follow the American presidential elections, but still rehearsed for four hours that day.
Well, we could have stayed at home, you think for a tiny moment looking at your busy schedule, but one hour later you realize that that would have been one of the bigger mistakes of your life. It was breathtaking. I would almost say "stunning" if Rundgren's work wasn't so graceful and elegant. This capricious genius, with his wide and brilliant oeuvre, played by one of the best orchestras in the world. For the first time in his career. Correction, this was Phase II, Phase I was last year, also in Paradiso. So he came back. And his voice is perfect, new arrangements have been made, and we have backing vocals, provided, please note, by Mathilde Santing, for the love of his work. And we are there.
The plugs are put into the sockets, the bows choose their starting positions on the strings, the director taps his baton and the miracle becomes fact. When you have an eye for it, you can see that, at such a night, people become a little bit happier. And we can be a part of this. And he as well! He gives us something, but what is needed for that, we give to him.
Yeah, the best audience in the world. A fair exchange, but differently in a way. There we stood, fifteen hundred average incomes. From a "framing" point of view, you could consider the term 'extravaganza' not very wise, because that is precisely the way the austerity policy makers see it: here an elite is spoiled with expensive subsidized entertainment. Now this is such an extravaganza that should be dispensed with once and for all. Behold the luxury that we should bid farewell to, in these times of austerity.
"This concert has been made impossible by Halbe Zijlstra" (RZ: Dutch secretary of state, responsible for budget cuts on the arts and culture). Todd Rundgren was commissioned by the Margate festival to write a composition inspired by one of the Plagues of Egypt. Actually, only the rain of frogs was still available, so he wrote Frogs. It was refused without reason given, but last Sunday, the piece finally got it's world premiere. Thanks to Co de Kloet, the NTR and the Metropole Orchestra. Extravaganza? Maybe. Can sheer joy and beauty ever be an extravaganza? I have obediently done what Todd told us to do: think of a way to save the Metropole Orchestra. And the solution is simple. He is called: Joop van den Ende (RZ: Dutch television tycoon, and the greatest Maecenas of arts and culture in the Netherlands).
"Dear mr. van den Ende: there are enough people in the Netherlands who can spare a few million euros, but there is only one, I suppose, that knows how to save an orchestra with that cash. It is you. The austerity-craze will pass, at some point budgets for culture will rise again, but it could be too late by then. You can not deep-freeze an orchestra and defrost it again. For musical fans you are immortal already. This is your chance to add the jazz and pop devotees to that company. Mister van den Ende, Joop, if I may call you Joop: pull the Metropole Orchestra through the crisis! Save this band!"
Jan Kuitenbrouwer is journalist, writer and director of the "Language Clinic".
Translation: Rob Zwitserlood