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An Ox on the Roof

fri 7 may 2021 05:00 

An Ox on the Roof 26: The Ox in times of the Coronavirus #13.

Today is the twenty-sixth episode of An Ox on the Roof by Thea Derks, inspired by her book Een os op het dak: moderne muziek na 1900 in vogelvlucht. The second edition appeared in December 2020. 

In the reports on the coronavirus, we often hear people compare the situation with war situations. The government and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) want to “defeat” the virus and impose restrictions on freedom that critics perceive as “dictatorship”. On a talk show, Dutch writer Adriaan van Dis called it highly inappropriate; rash remarks made by people who are spoiled rotten.

Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) knew true dictatorship: she lived through Stalin’s ruthless oppression. In her poems, she recorded her experiences and expressed the Russians’ pain better than anyone; her clear, simple verses also touched the common folk. American composer Judith Shatin made a moving rendition of Akhmatova’s poignant poetry with her Akhmatova’s Songs. [portrait: Anna Akhmatova by Petrov Kuzma].

For Palate Cleanser, her compatriot Clare Shore took inspiration from a nightmare after a period of stress. “While falling asleep, I fight demons until a scream from inside of me wakes me up.” Once on the streets, her gloomy thoughts disappear as she hears the music by street musicians and a rehearsing choir.

In her cantata Voice of Women, American-Austrian Nancy van de Vate sings about the sadness of the older women who no longer have a place in society. Lost Orpheus for percussion and cimbalom by the Czech Ivana Loudová is inspired by the eponymous hero from Greek mythology, whose lamentation over the death of Eurydice irritated the Bacchantes so much that they tore him to shreds.

An Ox on the Roof’s first edition is sold out, but you can get a copy of the second edition on


1. Judith Shatin. Akhmatova Songs.
Lucy Shelton, soprano. Da Capo Players. 

2. Clare Shore. Palate Cleanser.
Dannel Espinoza, soprano sax.

3. Nancy van de Vate. Voices of Women.
Sulie Girardi, mezzo-soprano.
Koszalin Philharmonic Orchestra and University Choir Silezië conducted by Szymon Kawalla. 

4. Ivana Loudová. Lost Orpheus.
Tomáš Ondrušek, percussion & cimbalom.


Compilation, presentation and recording techniques: Thea Derks.

Produced & presented by: