INTERVIEW WITH Dr. ADRIAAN J.H. KORVER
Yanos Internal, Programme director & Member of the choir
by Inga Baga
What was the most interesting for you and your BM people in Lithuania?
In the same experiences as the experiences when you are in that country. Reading a story means that you only use your visual sense. However, when being in the country, you hear the people, hear the bells of the Cathedral; you taste the Lithuanian beer, etc. etc.. So, you will use all your senses. The majority of the BM people were totally surprised about the beauty of Lithuania and of Vilnius, the great hospitality of the Lithuanians and the tremendous changes made over the past 15 years. Many people expressed to me that during the first days in Vilnius they just liked the city. However, after a few more days, people really started to “love” the city. The spirit of country and city really touched them. These changes I saw among my country people were very interesting for me. I am glad that I was able to transfer my very positive personal feeling about Lithuanians and Lithuania to many of them. Several people have expressed their wish to return. And that was one of my main goals.
Your best and worst impressions of that trip?
When something happens, you can always look from two different perspectives; from a positive perspective (“my glass is still half-full”) or from a negative perspective (“my glass is already half-empty”). Therefore, it is not possible for me to speak about the best and worst impressions. Let me highlight, two events. The first one happened during our visit to Siauliai and the second one to Kaunas. When we arrived at the Hill of Crosses, my very first impression was “What a small hill. Why did I bring 150 people all the way from Vilnius to see this hill”. However, when I arrived in front of the Hill, then the same happened to me as happened a few years ago. This Hill was “enormous”, very impressive. However, when I walked closer to the Hill, I thought that I was good to bring all those Dutch people to this hill.
The second impression is about our visit to the 9th Fortress in Kaunas. When I visited the museum for the first time, I realised how much your people suffered under the Nazis and the Soviets. I also realised that we – in the “West” - had almost no idea about your history. So, when we started to organise the trip, I “decided” that the Dutch people should know more about your people and your history. One of the ways was to visit the ninth fortress. A few days before the visit, we agreed to make a special ceremony at the fortress in order to pay our respect to the Lithuanians who suffered under foreign suppression. It was good.
How did your choir singers and tourists like that musical project and why?
Impression of your own, as a choir singer? The people liked the musical project. Some people even expressed that it should have been (much) more. There were so many locations where we could have sung. The rehearsal in St. Bernardine church was very impressive. The concert in the St. Johns’ church was also impressive but in a different way. Singing the glorious Krönungs Messe in a Baroque church was a normal combination. However, the emotional contrast between the beauty of the Church and the protest against suppression through the Polni Mse was enormous. Due to all other work, I was not able in participating in this Polni Mse. I hope that once I may sing it, preferably in St Bernardine church or the Holy Virgin Mary church in Trakai gatve. As a singer of the choir, I always stand in front of our conductor. During this visit, I had the opportunity to stand behind him; to work with him in a completely different capacity. I enjoyed it. What Marcel Verhoeff was able to reach in only two days was next to impossible.
Could you compare, even a bit, musical life in Holland and Lithuania?
Music is a global language. It does not matter that I speak Dutch and other people speak Lithuanian. When singing, we speak the same language. Therefore, there are no differences between Lithuania and The Netherlands. Some traditions may be different. For instance, take you Song festivals. For the rest, I am convinced that we have more in common than we sometimes think. I always try to look at what unites us and not what divides us.
Do you plan any other projects with Lithuanian artists?
When I can find the time and the money, I love to do more projects with Lithuanian artists. Lithuania has excellent musicians, choirs and composers. There are so many possibilities that it would need another article to describe everything. Moreover, I know someone in Vilnius who has even many more ideas.
The funniest moments for BM people?
I think that the telephone conversation between the “Crusader” and the “late Pope John Paul I I” was the funniest moment.
Could you tell resume about last dinner and short description about the programme done by BM people.
I was happy that everything went well. The restaurant did an excellent job. I was happy that the representative of the Minister of Culture and the director of Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra were present. I was very happy that Odeta was put in the limelight. What she did for the choir was also next to impossible. In addition, I am still impressed by the award given to me by the choir. Finally, I am always surprised when I see and hear what is performed during the last evening of our concert trips. Take our Crusader. Unbelievable what he did.
I know, that you was creator of new website newsletters for BM choir website.
Could you tell us, why you decided to create it? I have been to Lithuania so many times. My first visit was in 1992. Over all those years, the country has become more or less my second home country. I really feel at home when I am in Lithuania. When the decision was taken to go to Lithuania, I used every possibility to show to the choir and the friends of the choir that Lithuania was more than worth to visit. One way was to write the Newsletters.
Was it helpful?
That is difficult to say. However, I know that many people printed the Newsletters and used them during their stay.
Do you have plan to publish it soon in Holland?
When I can find a publishing company, I intend to publish it. On the base of it your have got the THANKS letter from mayer of the Vilnius city? How was reaction of your choir and chaiman of the BM Mr. Hans Talboom? The Thanks letter is now on a “Place of Honour” in our building in Breda. As far as I know, it was the first time in the 140-year history of our choir that we received such Thank letter. I’ll come back again and again and again. "Iki susitikimo Lietuvoje" :)
Adriaan H. J. Korver