Wim Mertens

Last updated
Wim Mertens
Born (1953-05-14) 14 May 1953 (age 65)
Neerpelt, Belgium
Genres New-age, avant-garde, contemporary classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsKeyboards
Labels Windham Hill
Website www.wimmertens.be

Wim Mertens (born 14 May 1953) is a Flemish Belgian composer, countertenor vocalist, pianist, guitarist, and musicologist.

A countertenor (also contra tenor) is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano voice types, generally extending from around G3 to D5 or E5, although a sopranist (a specific kind of countertenor) may match the soprano's range of around C4 to C6. Countertenors often are baritones or tenors at core, but on rare occasions use this vocal range in performance.

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Life and work

Mertens was born in Neerpelt, Belgium. He studied social and political science at the University of Leuven (graduating in 1975) and musicology at Ghent University; he also studied music theory and piano at the Ghent Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

Neerpelt Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Neerpelt is a former municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg. In December 2012, it had a total population of 16,742, of which 3.090 were foreigners, mainly from neighbouring The Netherlands. The total area is 42.78 km² which gives a population density of 384 inhabitants per km².

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Ghent University Dutch-speaking university in Belgium

Ghent University is a public research university located in Ghent, Belgium. It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands. After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the newly formed Belgian state began to administer the university. In 1930, the university became the first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium, whereas French had previously been the standard academic language. In 1991,it was granted major autonomy and changed its name accordingly from State University of Ghent to its current designation.

In 1978, he became a producer at the then BRT (Belgian Radio and Television, now called Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep). For Radio 2 (Radio Brabant) he produced concerts by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Urban Sax and others, and hosted a program called Funky Town together with Gust De Meyer (with whom he recorded the experimental album For Amusement Only).

Philip Glass American composer

Philip Glass is an American composer. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the late 20th century. Glass's work has been described as minimal music, having similar qualities to other "minimalist" composers such as La Monte Young, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. Glass describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures", which he has helped evolve stylistically.

Steve Reich American composer

Stephen Michael Reich is an American composer who, along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass, pioneered minimal music in the mid to late 1960s.

Terry Riley American composer and performing musician

Terrence Mitchell Riley is an American composer and performing musician associated with the minimalist school of 20th century music, of which he was a pioneer. Influenced by both jazz and Indian classical music, his music became notable for its innovative use of repetition, tape music techniques, and delay systems. He is best known for works such as his 1964 composition In C and 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air, both considered landmarks of minimalist music and important influences on subsequent electronic and rock music.

Known primarily as a composer since the early 1980s, Mertens began developing a reputation after releasing "Struggle for Pleasure", under the name of his early ensemble Soft Verdict, and for "Maximizing the Audience", which was composed for Jan Fabre's play The Power of Theatrical Madness, which premiered in 1984 in Venice, Italy.

"Struggle for Pleasure" is a musical piece released in 1983 by Belgian composer Wim Mertens. It is the theme music used by the Belgian phone operator Proximus. It was featured in the Peter Greenaway movie The Belly of an Architect. Energy 52's track "Café Del Mar" features a main melody based on "Struggle for Pleasure". It was also covered by Belgian dance music group Minimalistix in 2000 and reached dance charts across Europe.

Jan Fabre artist, choreographer, designer, playwright, stage director

Jan Fabre is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer.

Mertens' style has continually evolved during the course of his prolific career, starting from downright experimental and avant-garde, always gravitating around minimalism, usually, however, preserving a melodic foundation to the forays that he makes into the worlds that he is exploring. His compositional quality has often overweighted the "labelling issue" and reached wider audiences although stemming from a far-from-mainstream musical context (see section In popular culture). One can follow three separate threads of musical styles throughout his work: a) Compositions for ensemble, perhaps his most accessible and "commercial" material; b) Solo piano and voice compositions, which features haunting keyboard melodies accompanied by Mertens' unique high-pitched tenor voice singing in an invented, personal language; and c) Experimental minimalist "cycles" for single, dual, and sometimes more instruments.

Avant-garde works that are experimental or innovative

The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It may be characterized by nontraditional, aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability, and it may offer a critique of the relationship between producer and consumer.

Mertens has released more than 60 albums to date, the majority of which were issued by Les Disques du Crépuscule from 1980 until 2004. Mertens also produced a number of Crépuscule releases and consulted with the label on its choice of works by contemporary composers such as Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, and Glenn Branca. Mertens also curated a series of releases for a Crépuscle imprint, Lome Armé, that featured works from the classical era as well as contemporary jazz.

Michael Nyman English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist

Michael Laurence Nyman, CBE is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist, known for numerous film scores, and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to Jane Campion's The Piano. He has written a number of operas, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat; Letters, Riddles and Writs; Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs; Facing Goya; Man and Boy: Dada; Love Counts; and Sparkie: Cage and Beyond. He has written six concerti, five string quartets, and many other chamber works, many for his Michael Nyman Band. He is also a performing pianist. Nyman prefers to write opera rather than other forms of music.

Gavin Bryars British musician

Richard Gavin Bryars is an English composer and double bassist. He has worked in jazz, free improvisation, minimalism, historicism, avant-garde, and experimental music.

Glenn Branca American composer and guitarist

Glenn Branca was an American avant-garde composer and guitarist known for his use of volume, alternative guitar tunings, repetition, droning, and the harmonic series. Branca received a 2009 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

In August 2007 Mertens signed a contract with EMI Classics (now Warner Classics) for his entire catalog. [1] The label re-released his entire back-catalog beginning in January 2008. EMI Music Belgium also released Mertens' new work, beginning with the 9-track album Receptacle on 24 September 2007. For this album Mertens decided to work with an orchestra consisting of only women, 17 in total. It is not the first time that Mertens worked with EMI. Already in 1999, Mertens released the soundtrack to the Paul Cox film Molokai: The Story of Father Damien via EMI Classics.

Mertens is the author of American Minimal Music, [2] which looks at the school of American repetitive music and the work of LaMonte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.

Discography

Several of these were also released under the band name "Soft Verdict" (years 1980-1985 ?)

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References

  1. Wim Mertens signs with EMI and set to release entire back-catalogue
  2. Mertens, Wim (1983). American Minimal Music. Translated by J. Hautekiet. Preface by Michael Nyman. London: Kahn & Averill; White Plains, New York: Pro/Am Music Resources Inc. First published in Belgium in 1980. ISBN   1-871082-00-5; ISBN   0-912483-15-6.