"Winters Interprets Orpheus Myth"

"I find it easier to explain what 'Orpheus2010' is not than what it is," says the young American composer, trumpeter and keyboard player Sean Winters.

"It's not a silent film screening with live music, and it's even less a rock or jazz band performance where a film is being played in the background. It is not music-theater but it definitely contains theatrical elements. I have made a lot of film music. But what makes 'Orpheus2010 ' interesting for me is that the sound and images are really created at the same moment."

It is undoubtedly the black sheep, compared with the usual programming in the Patronaat Cafe. Tomorrow evening, accompanied by three musicians and live-visualist/VJ Jilt van Moorst, Winters brings his vision of Orpheus, the prince of Greek mythology whose beloved Eurydice died. Orpheus descended into the underworld - the realm of the dead - and was able to use his bewitching song and music to convince Hades, the god of the underworld, to allow Eurydice to return with him to the land of the living. Under one condition: while they were returning, Orpheus was not allowed to look back at his love as she followed him. But Orpheus did look back, and he then had to leave Eurydice behind in the underworld forever. He was left with nothing else in life except to travel the world with his bewitching music.

It is really "live cinema" says Winters. Jilt van Moorst can choose which clips from his laptop he uses on the spot. "They are sort of like mini visual poems about the Orpheus myth," says the composer. "Together music and image create an almost surreal atmosphere."

The Orpheus myth has inspired artists for many centuries. Monteverdi, Von Gluck and Philip Glass composed operas around the theme. Jean Cocteau made the film 'Orpheus' in 1949. Winters has listened to them all, watched and read everything related, he says. "With 'Orpheus2010' I focus mainly on what happened before the well known Orpheus story. There is less written about that. If you're interested in the myth of Orpheus you naturally encounter such questions as 'Why must there be love?' and 'What is the role of art?' That's what appeals to me. All the essential issues are in there."

Winters was born in Boulder in the American state of Colorado. He came to the Amsterdam conservatory to pursue a master's degree in film music after having studied in New York, Jerusalem, and Montreal. "I like to be in interesting places," says Winters. "I think that it's good for my art."

In recent years he's made music for documentaries and commercials in our country, but he's also done studio sessions and played with 'regular' jazz bands. He sees 'Orpheus2010' as his continuing "work in progress."

In total he has recorded five hours of music and twenty hours of film for the project which he can draw on and include in the live performances. But can he add anything to all those renowned artistic interpretations? "Ach, we live in a time of post-post-postmodernism in which every artist must try to find his or her identity. When the Roman poet Ovid first told the Orpheus story in his book 'Metamorphoses' Orpheus was like The Big Lebowski of his time. He was the type of character that was constantly made reference to. For centuries, artists have interpreted Orpheus from the perspective of the times in which they live. In our time this means that I have an astounding amount of technical possibilities and freedom. For my Orpheus, I can use elements from Monteverdi and Cocteau through the use of sampling. And sampling is in itself a "big issue." Thus, every new interpretation of Orpheus is a litmus test for the time in which it was made, and that is also the case for mine."

Peter Bruyn

Sean Winters: Thurs 6 Jan. Patronaatcafe, Haarlem, 22.30 Free Entry.