In 2012 a group of inspired, Dutch musicians created a new musical collective of top class players and creative thinkers: an ensemble to distinguish itself artistically, and by ways of its programmatic range and flexibility. They named it LUDWIG, after the first cultural entrepreneur in classical music, Beethoven. The group varies in size and appears as a single soloist, an ensemble, a chamber orchestra up to a full-scale symphonic orchestra.
In no time at all the collective, which stands for high quality, fearless elan and contemporary vision for established repertoire, shot to prominence in the Netherlands and has been busy ever since, touring the Netherlands and abroad, performing at concert halls and festivals alike. Apart from that, LUDWIG initiates out-of-the-ordinary art-and-music projects about today’s social topics like climate change and growing global ageing. An example is ‘LUDWIG and the brain’ in which the collective collaborates with well-known brain scientists.
LUDWIG’s programming is as thoroughly thought out as it is adventurous. Artistic director Peppie Wiersma effortlessly brings together composers from different time periods, styles, and backgrounds. The musicians perform the greatest music to the highest possible standard but free from the organisational and management norms of conventional ensembles and orchestras. And distinctive it certainly is: the musicians often interact directly with their audience, play from memory, experiment with different forms of presentation and collaborate with makers in other disciplines in order to change the way people experience a concert, and have staged a number of legendary appearances with leading soloists.
LUDWIG maintains a close collaboration with the innovative conductor/singer Barbara Hannigan. In 2017, after an extensive tour of Europe, they recorded their first cd ‘Crazy Girl Crazy’, which was awarded with a Grammy in january 2018.
In spring 2019 Barbara Hannigan and LUDWIG toured with nine different programmes, among which Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress, which was performed in a.o. the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Philharmonie Paris, Aldeburgh Festival (UK) and Ojai Festival (California). At these festivals they acted as orchestra in residence.
Since the beginning of LUDWIG we have always been intrigued by the effect of music on the human brain. Why is it that people with dementia seem to connect to music when most other forms of communication seem to deteriorate? And why does music offer solace in times of loss or pain? How and why do we connect to certain types of music more than others? Is it good for very young infants to be exposed to may different styles of music? Lots of questions and as yet not too many answers.
In a series of Brainwaves LUDWIG explores the world of Music and the Brain in live music symposia to create context, invoke discussion and initiate research. In 2016 we presented Brainwave 1 Music and Identity, in 2017 Brainwave 2 Music as Medicine, in 2018 Brainwave 3 Music and the Future. In 2019 we premiered Brainwave 4: The dancing Brain, a collaboration with Professor Erik Scherder and Cuna Knegt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). This programme is currently being rolled out all over The Netherlands to inspire people to start moving and dance to the favorite tunes of LUDWIG’s Ballroom Band. A cd with LUDWIG’s Ballroom Band with special guests Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Lucienne Renaudin-Vary (trumpet) and Jess Gillam (saxophone) will be released in the autumn of 2020.
Music is our core business but we love to expand our creative powers to connect with the planet we live on. As artists and relative outsiders we can reflect on the problems the world is facing today in order to invoke progress and encourage change.
Verdronken Land (Drowned Lands) was our first project on climate change – in June 2019 we presented different visions on water-related problems in our pop-up Museum Drowned Lands. Several artists and more than 25 speakers shared their knowledge about water in our Museum and exchanged information for possible collaborations in the future. Subsequently in July 2019 LUDWIG became a member of the Unesco worldwide network of Water Museums.
As a spin-off from the pop-up museum we started the project Waterwalks in collaboration with Drinkable Rivers. After a short pilot along the riverside of the Amstel in October 2019 we are now expanding the Waterwalks and invite people all over the world to walk the rivers and collect data in every conceivable form (scientific, ecological, words, music, photo’s, video’s etcetc). The data can be shared on our interactive website waterwalks.nl using the specially designed waterwalks app. This way a living database will be created on the state and future of all the rivers of the world.