Q&A: Ig Henneman

CS: What has been inspiring you lately?

IH: Years ago violist George Dumitriu became my viola friend, we met and he wanted to know more about the viola (his first instruments are violin and guitar). We played a lot together at my home, from free improv towards classical viola repertoire. He really inspired me lately when I listened to his recording ‘Monk on Viola’ (err 36). Monk and the viola, two of my big loves came together. This is what I wrote to him:

“I enjoyed the music very much. Admired your courage to handle the ‘failure’s’, your choices to use them, ‘avoid’ the harmonies, I enjoyed the places where you ended up and then continued there, found a way to go on, how you uses the colors of the viola, the ‘poor’ sounds… Wish you passion, and enough energy to continue this path which is really yours.

CS: Favorite musicians, artists, thinkers?

IH: Thelonious Monk, Albert Ayler, Franz Schubert, Ray Nance, Nedly Elstak, Jimmy Giuffre, Misha Mengelberg, Galina Ustvolskaya, Cecil Taylor, Sofia Gubaidulina, Gillian Welch: all these names have had a big influence on my music, on my own style. Their directness, authenticity, their drama, little embellishments…

CS: Favorite films, books?

IH: ‘The hour of the Star’ and ‘Selected Chronicas’ by the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. ’The history of love’ by the American writer Nicole Krauss, several works by the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg. About seemingly insignificant things of life, daily life, life.

CS: Best thing you’ve seen on Youtube (recently)?

IH: Cecil Taylor a fragment of Jazz Ost-West Festival 1984. I heard him live several times, his solo playing is my favorite. When I heard this video not so long ago, I suddenly realised why he is so inspiring to me: the motives he uses over and over again and in between the dramatic outbursts to change the taste of the palette… for my 1st string quartet from 2021 I let myself be inspired by this flow he creates.

CS: Last performance you saw that expanded the way you think about your own work?

IH: That performance has taken place when I was 44 years old, I am 77 now. On stage a grand piano and loads of woodwind and brass, percussion and voice. Music that blew me away, really touched me, brought me to tears. I never heard this music before but I recognized it all……? The encounter made me stay loyal to my intuitive creative spirit not embedded in any style, but using all the sources from a broad musical background and the music world around me. This afternoon all my worlds came together in the music of the Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006).

CS: Recording people would be most surprised you listen to?

IH: Gillian Welch ‘The Harrow and the Harvest’, or Elza Soares ‘The woman at the end of the world’