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National Premiere

New European Ensemble / Mihkel Kerem / Marco Quaglia


“When I first read 1984 I was terrified because I realized I was born in this exact dystopian world” affirms Estonian composer Mihkel Kerem who, inspired by the famous novel by Orwell, sought to create a musical composition for the New European Ensemble (considered as one of the most important Dutch ensembles). His music is accompanied by the cinematographic images of director Gijs Besseling – anticipated by a video introduction by Edward Snowden – that reconstruct the Orwellian narrative by transplanting it to our present. This encounter, today becomes a musical show- the Italian version of which includes the presence of actor Marco Quaglia- intent on investigating the way in which our lives increasingly depend on technology and how the latter allows governments and companies to intercept and record our data. Do we live in the dystopia described by Orwell? And is an escape still possible?


The New European Ensemble was founded in 2009 in the Netherlands by dedicated and passionate musicians from across Europe. The ensemble has built a reputation for imaginative programming as well as ‘fantastic’ (NRC) and ‘excellent performances’ (de Volkskrant) and has been called one of the ‘Netherland’s leading ensembles’ (Nieuwe Noten). In 2019, the NEuE was awarded the prestigious Kersjesprijs. Some of today’s most prominent composers like Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Mark Anthony Turnage, Bright Sheng and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir enjoy working with the group.The ensemble’s mission is to present contemporary music and 20th century classics in exciting ways, this is why the group often combines music with film, literature, theatre, dance and visual art.Famed composers like Mark Anthony Turnage, José María Sánchez-Verdú, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, Guo Wenjing, Carlo Boccadoro, Martijn Padding and Klas Torstensson have written works for the ensemble. The group performed in nearly all of The Netherlands’ major concert halls and theaters among them the Concertgebouw, Carré Theater and Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam, De Doelen in Rotterdam, Tivoli Vredenburg and The Royal Theatre in The Hague. The ensemble performs regularly at festivals such as Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Festival Vlaanderen, November Music, Shanghai New Music Week, Beijing Contemporary Music Festival and Svensk Musikvår. International tours brought the group to the UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Lebanon, China and Hong Kong.The ensemble’s musicians regularly work with young composers and performers at the conservatory level at the Hague’s Royal Conservatoire and at music schools worldwide.


Text George Orwell
Composer & conductor Mihkel Kerem
Actor Marco Quaglia
Introduction Edward Snowden
Cello solo Willem Stam
Ensemble New European Ensemble
Film Gijs Besseling
Director Emlyn Stam
Translation Marco Quaglia

Project manager education Mieke van der Ven