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Ensemble SCALA is a group of seven musicians in the Netherlands which plays microtonal music only. It is founded in 2010 by the Huygens-Fokker Foundation (centre for microtonal music in Amsterdam) to experience microtonality within a spectrum (scala) of tone colors. The fact that the famous Fokker organ has become a part of the ensemble is special. The instrumentation of Ensemble SCALA is flute, clarinet, viola, microtonal guitar, Fokker organ, keyboards/Carrillo piano and percussion. The musicians are all specialists in the field of microtonal music. Together they explore the borders of the colorful possibilities of microtonality. The ensemble focuses on major microtonal systems/tunings, like the 31-tone system, the 24-tone system (or quarter-tone system), the 19-tone system and systems of just intonation, with an accent on the first system mentioned. The name of the ensemble is based on the eponymous software programme Scala for microtonal music, by Manuel Op de Coul, that has an international reputation. Ensemble SCALA has set itself a purpose to play a spectrum of new sounds whereby new work, alongside existing work from the 16th and 17th centuries, will be performed. The diverse repertoire is consisting of compositions by a.o. Giacinto Scelsi, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Peter Adriaansz, Nicola Vicentino, Steffen Krebber, Charles Delusse, Ned McGowan, Ezra Sims, Sander Germanus, Francois Grabriel Madden, Danny de Graan, René Samson, Lucio Garau, Gijsbrecht Roijé, Joachim F.W. Schneider, Arnold Marinissen, Juhani Nuorvala, etc.
The necessity to initiate Ensemble SCALA arose from the need to spread knowledge about microtonality in the Netherlands and abroad, whereby the main figurehead, the unique Fokker-organ (a 31-tone organ from 1950, based on the 31-tone tuning system - an invention of the famous physicist Christiaan Huygens in 1691, earlier already invented by composer Nicola Vicentino in 1555), could be taken while travelling. Since 2009 there is a portable Fokker organ keyboard available, which is playable too. This keyboard (earlier called the ‘mute keyboard’) has been built in 1963 just to study, but is fully equipped with MIDI technology since 2009, so it can produce sound. It can be connected to both the large acoustic Fokker organ as to a computer/laptop that produces samples of this 31-tone organ. This instrument allows Ensemble SCALA to give concerts outside the Small Hall of the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam (where the 16-meter wide Fokker-organ is installed in 2009). The portable/digital Fokker organ is a strong and solid basis for the other instruments, which in turn provide an acoustic context. Concerts with the portable Fokker organ keyboard will therefore always take place in conjunction with the ensemble, as just an unaccompanied digital Fokker organ is not desirable on stage. There is also an advantage to the use of the digital Fokker organ keyboard. Other tuning systems can be programmed under the keys of the keyboard, for example the 19-tone or 24-tone tuning, both prominent tuning systems. In this way, various kind of microtones can be played on the instrument, so a broad knowledge of the microtonality can be propagated through the concerts of Ensemble SCALA. The ensemble gave performes in Holland as well as abroad. In June 2011 Ensemble SCALA was the guest-ensemble of the congress of microtonality in Stuttgart, Germany. And in 2012 Ensemble SCALA performed during 'World of Sound' in Saint Petersburg.
Raymond Honing, flute
Michel Marang, clarinet
Manuel Visser, viola
Stefan Gerritsen, microtonal guitar
Anne Veinberg, 96-tone piano/keyboards
Ere Lievonen, 31-tone organ
Glenn Liebaut, percussion
Sander Germanus, artistic director
Melle Weijters, producer