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Canal Festival 2007: Music on and around the canals of Amsterdam

Twenty-six years ago, Hotel Pulitzer — an upscale hotel at the Prinsengracht — organized a piano concert atop a huge barge docked in the Prinsengracht canal, across from its front entrance.

The event started on a somewhat sour note. The grand piano that had to be hoisted onto the rusty pontoon fell from its hoist, right on top of a brand-new Volvo.

Fortunately, the concert did take place. It was such a success that an encore was held a year later, and the Prinsengrachtconcert has since grown into an annual, world-renowned event, featuring national and international top musicians, soloists and orchestras.

Prinsengrachtconcert

The Prinsengracht, overlooked by the Westertoren, is the scene of the annual Prinsengracht concert

World Class Music in a Unique Setting

Nowadays, 20.000+ people line the canals and bridges to enjoy the nighttime concert in its unique setting: a canal flanked by a mixture of old and modern houses, overlooked by the tower of the Westerkerk, and filled with hundreds of small pleasure boats parked side-by-side around the stage — which itself still consists of dressed up pontoons.

Many people, some of whom arrive hours before the concert in order to secure a good view, bring along wine, cheese, and tapas to make the experience complete.

Since 1984, Dutch broadcaster AVRO has broadcasted the open air concert on live television. The concert has also been shown by TV stations around the world.

You can view last year’s concert here.

Grachtenfestival (Canals Festival)

Over the years, the Prinsengracht concert also grew to include additional musical events, and various venues throughout the downtown canal district.

Ten years ago, this collection of additional concerts became known as the Grachtenfestival (Canals Festival).

The Prinsengracht Concert is financed, programmed and produced by the Stichting Prinsengrachtconcert, the AVRO and Hotel Pulitzer. It is always staged on the famous pontoon in front of the. The Grachtenfestival was ‘built around it’ ten years ago. The festival programmes on a smaller scale in homes and monuments in the historical centre and along the IJ banks. Chamber music, own productions, masterclasses, Canal tours on Architecture and Monument walks, For adults and children. Classical music, water and architecture are the elements of the Grachtenfestival.
– Source: Grachtenfestival

Over the past 10 years, the Grachtenfestival has developed into one of the most spectacular classical music festivals in the world. The event will take place on 11 – 19 August 2007. For nine days over 166 concerts will take place in various locations across Amsterdam, including museums, monuments, private residences and special stages on the water.

Last year, the Canals Festival expanded to include venues along the banks of the river IJ.

A map showing all the concert locations is available here.

Program & Highlights

Many of the concerts can be enjoyed free of charge, but for some of them you nevertheless need a ticket. The festival program guide includes this information.

The events highlighted here — a small choice out of over 166 concerts — are all free:

  • Children’s Prinsengracht Concert 2007
    A feast for children young and old.

    Saturday, Aug. 18, at 17:00 (5:00 PM), Pontoon across from Hotel Pulitzer. [Google Map]

  • 26th Prinsengracht Concert
    An unparalleled voice sounds over the water. Baritone Thomas Hampson in the greatest concert hall of the Netherlands. With Wolfram Rieger, piano.

    Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007, 21:30 (9:30 PM), Pontoon across from Hotel Pulitzer [Google Map]

    The opening program, which starts at 20:00 (8:00 PM) features violinist Liza Ferschtman, who was awarded the Dutch Music Award in 2006.

  • Ah, flee from the traitor!
    ‘Ah, fuggi il traditor!’ is the first sentence from an aria by Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’, in which a lady is advised to flee from the hero referred to in the title. The word flee is remarkably often used in opera libretti and not only in Italian. The young singers of the Opera Studio Nederland do not show any inclination to flee, on the contrary, they are on their way to an international career. They will demonstrate with which arias and duets they hope to conquer the opera houses. And they will give you a preview of the coming season. The international group of singers consists of: Tina Dietzsch, soprano; An de Ridder, soprano; Eri Nakamura, oprano; Martijn Cornet, baritone; Seil Kim, tenor; Ivo Posti, countertenor and Alexander Egorov, bass. With Trisdee na Patalung, piano.
    Presentation studio director Hans Nieuwenhuis.

    Sunday, Aug. 19, 13:00 (1:00 PM), Pontoon across from Hotel Pulitzer [Google Map]

  • Block Ball
    The Grachtenfestival is celebrating its anniversary and closes off with a ball for the entire block. Everyone who wants to dance, is welcome on the pontoon. And when there is no room left we will take it to the streets.

    You can’t dance, but you have always wanted to learn? There is a dance instructor who will teach you the most important steps in half an hour. Foxtrot, samba, waltz and bossa nova. Get your feet moving to the ‘Second Waltz’ by Shostakovitch, to the sounds of NedPho GO!, the big band of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, specialist in concerts at special locations.

    Sunday, Aug. 19, 16:00 (4:00 PM), Pontoon across from Hotel Pulitzer [Google Map]

Web Site

Grachtenfestival

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This post was last updated: May. 18, 2011