Thursday, November 07, 2013

TEDxAMS surges ahead of the pack -I

Today I went to the Royal Concertgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam, along with around 1000 invited guests, to witness the 5th edition of TEDx Amsterdam. I must admit, after being to many such events over the last three years, I was beginning to wonder if the format of inspiring talks was beginning to wear thin. After all, it's over 10 hours of people talking at you - an avalanche of information.

But I was so wrong. Here's ten hours compressed into two minutes.

TEDxAMS was much better than I could ever expected. Why? It was a carefully composed programme of thought, music and song. But it was also brilliantly executed. The trick was getting the balance of these elements in harmony. And as well as the right content, the context of being in the Concertgebouw was ideal. The acoustics in the hall are world class. The programme started with the Netherlands Radio Choir.....

Etienne Abelin is a Swiss Musician who runs a startup business which is dedicated to using data visualization to add a new dimension to classical music. And not only in concert halls. The so-called Music Animation Machine has also been shown in Swiss Dance clubs.  His talk is a bit difficult to follow at first because they left the reverb on from the choir. They gave out the 3D specs so you could see depth on the screens, though I personally don't think it was can use different colours to create all the depth without the hassle of the specs.

Change of continent. Peter Ngatia Nguura comes from Nairobi. He works for the African health organisation AMREF, though this talk could just as well have been to help the start-up network The message- trade not aid. Peter is someone who gives a passionate performance with his body as well as his voice. And talking to him afterwards he's a very gracious listener as well as an accomplished storyteller. I suggested that he add a few visuals. That part of Africa is so beautiful that some pictures would strengthen the talk in some places. Taking it from a 9+ to a 10.

This was followed by a story of a fascinating cultural journey to communities that are in danger of disappearing. Photographer Jimmy Nelson has documented the existence of 35 unique communities in 44 countries, often travelling to very inhospitable, remote places in order to capture some wonderful images. The standard edition of the book is huge (29 x 37cms)  - it was too large and heavy for me to even contemplate taking it home on public transport. As well as this "trade edition" for 128 Euro, he's also printed 500 copies of a giant XXL edition (42 x 59 cms) for a mere 6500 Euro. I asked him whether he had also captured any sounds during the travels. The photos are stunning. But I can imagine the sounds are just as valuable too, since these languages must also be under threat. Jimmy said that indeed he has a sound recordist and videographer on the trips, since the making of the photo is a story unto itself.

It made sense to round off the first part of TEDXAMS with an illustrated talk by double bass player Dominic Seldis who is a member of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Together with violinist Borika van den Booren, he plays Valse Miniature by Serge Koussevitsky.Oh, and the preamble is brilliant. (e.g. his impressions of the Grand Prix and Seagulls 3 minutes in).

Post a Comment