The various activities performed by the director and producer Paul Hegeman are nearly all supplied by a great passion for the Cinema. This was the case during his French and Philosophy study and was the topic for his master thesis in which he explored the relationship between Film and surrealism. After having worked for a few years as a French teacher, he turned his passion into his occupation and has now already made hundreds of films/programs for among others like the VPRO, NPS, VARA, AVRO, NCRV and Arte.
In addition, he worked for more than 25 years as a journalist and in particular for Elsevier, HP/De Tijd and the VPRO Gids in which he wrote a weekly article about the Cinema in all its facets.
Recurring themes in his work are a strong involvement in social matters – he made films about the Spectacle society, pollution, asylum seekers, immigrants and gambling addiction -, love for the African continent and music in the broadest sense of the word. In fact, his most remarkable films rest on these three pillars. In Spirit, show and songs (IKON, 1994) he explores the relationship between music and spirituality with Leonard Cohen as guide. Youssou N’Dour also plays an important role explaining how music and spirituality in Africa are tied together. Mali Blues (NPS/Arte, 2002) is a documentary about the triumph of a musical culture in one of the poorest countries in the world. The heroes are back home (VPRO, 1999), a documentary about the Cuban music of then and now, displays an almost identical way culture and music come face to face with each other.
The more recent That Pärt Feeling – The Universe of Arvo Pärt (2019) sheds a bright light on the universe of the most celebrated composer of our times. New life in Congo (2012), a documentary about mother-child relationship in East-Congo, shows where the music became silent a while ago due to the excessive violence. Live to be a hundred (2012) about the conductor and harpsichordist Ton Koopman, in a way builds on the many music specials he made in the ’90 for VPRO’s Loladamusica, that vary from ECM label, Bill Laswell and the sound of Dakar, to the Cuban tradition and the legacy of Stockhausen.
In 1996 he founded in his hometown of Bergen (NH) his own cinema, Cinebergen, where he is still director and programmer. He also has remained faithful for his love of teaching and moreover besides lectures he gives frequent workshops and educational projects.
In 2020 he published his first novel, Waar schaduwen vallen (Where Shadows Fall).
Today Arvo Pärt needs hardly any introduction. But this was very different before his first recording on ECM in 1984 with Tabula Rasa. Though he might never have obtained this much of a success, had Manfred Eicher not heard by chance Summa on a local radio station and immediately decided to record it. This was the beginning of a long friendship between the two.
Born in Estonia in 1935, in a small town called Paide, Pärt knew from early on that his life would be devoted to music. Although his first compositions were of a neoclassical style, he soon started experimenting with modern techniques. But this modern approach was not appreciated by the Soviet regime. A very difficult relationship with the Soviets would follow, but it shows the strength and determination of Pärt’s character that he continued to compose the music he believed in. What made things even complicated, is that he adhered the Russian Orthodox Church in a time when religion was oppressed. An existential crisis at the end of the ‘60s lead to a period of self reflection and reinvention that lasted no less than eight years. When he finally was ready to show the world his new style, he came with something revolutionary. He called his new music tintinnabuli, or as he puts it in his own words:“I work with very few elements – with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitive materials – with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of the triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation”.
Since then he has written many world famous works like Miserere (1990), Te Deum (1993), Litany (1995), Kanon Pokajanen (1997), Passio (1998), Lamentate (2005), and Adam’s Lament (2012). His music is played all over the world, and its impact is undeniable. What is so beautiful about Pärt’s music is that it combines a sensitivity, spirituality and earthiness that reflect the character of this humble and spiritual man.
“He’s the warmest and nicest person I know.”
Tõnu Kaljuste is an Estonian conductor who is credited with keeping alive the choral tradition of his home country under the Soviet regime. After Estonia gained its independence, he became its musical ambassador. He gained an international reputation with Arvo Pärt’s ECM recordings and he continues to record music composed by his neighbour and friend. He performs everywhere around the world and in 2014 he won a Grammy in the category ‘Best Choral Performance’ for Pärt’s composition Adam’s Lament.
“The music has a true identity. It makes you look at something in a certain way, but it does not depict what you see.”
Alain Gomis is an award winning French filmmaker and screenwriter. His feature film Félicité won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017. In this film, he uses Pärt’s music not just as a soundtrack, but also as a central character. By letting the Orchestre Kimbanguiste de Kinshasa perform several of Pärt’s pieces, he shows the universal power of this music.
“There is something in his music and in his being that resonates universally with people.”
The Cello Octet Amsterdam is a cello ensemble based in Amsterdam. They have performed more than seventy world premieres, with most of these written or rewritten especially for them. The Octet have worked not only with Arvo Pärt, with whom they have a special working relationship, but also with Sofia Gubaidulina, Pierre Boulez, Philip Glass and Theo Loevendie. They perform all over the world and released a CD in 2017 with the music of Arvo Pärt, for which they recorded Summa, Solfeggio and other works.
“He reminds me of a tree. His roots are firmly rooted in the ground, but his branches are green and his blossoms are beautiful.”
Jiří Kylián is a Czech born, Netherlands based, world renowned choreographer. He was awarded the highest honour of entering the French Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2018. Kylián is a great admirer of the music of Arvo Pärt, and wrote the ballet Whereabouts Unknown (‘93) inspired by his composition Fratres. This ballet can be seen in the documentary.
“It’s elemental, in terms of music. Three notes. But it somehow sounds so full, you really don’t need anything else.”
Kara-Lis Coverdale is a Canadian techno music composer, producer and musicologist with Estonian roots. She began studying the piano at the age of five and writing her own music when she was ten. From the age of thirteen she started to play as a church organist and it’s there that she came in contact with Pärt’s music. Although her work is of a completely different genre, Pärt’s influence is highly noticeable in her compositions
“You take the dampers off the strings, and then when you play something so simple, you hear everything become brighter.”
Ralph van Raat is a Dutch pianist and musicologist. He recently made his Carnegie Hall debut where he performed music by Debussy and Boulez. Van Raat knows Pärt personally and has had the pleasure to work with him on one of his recitals. Although he has a very busy schedule as a pianist, he nevertheless finds time to teach at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. We see his workshop on Arvo Pärt in the documentary.
“You are listening to this music and you are lifted up somewhere there.”
Candida Thompson is an English violin player and conductor of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, although she prefers to refer to herself as the artistic leader. With the Sinfonietta, she has worked with the likes of Murray Perahia, Gidon Kremer and Ludovico Einaudi. She has performed many of Pärt’s compositions and feels a strong connection to his music.
“On the inside, he is still that little boy from Rakvere who can be as happy as a child. And he has this very naughty boyish humor.”
Daniel Reuss is a Dutch choir conductor with an international reputation. He has worked with different chores in Germany, Switzerland and Estonia, but he is currently the artistic leader and conductor of the Cappella Amsterdam. They have received international acclaim for their CD Kanon Pokajanen, one of Pärt’s most known choral pieces. Their latest repertoire includes works by Brahms, Josquin des Prez and György Kurtág.
Raoul Boesten and The Chamber Choir Kwintessens
Marcel Mandos and The North Netherlands Orchestra
New European Ensemble
The Students of the Conservatory of Amsterdam and The Hague
Cora Bos-Kroese, Aurélie Cayla, Yvan Dubreuil and Valentina Scaglia