Cities change the songs of birds


2010 - 2011

A video opera about life on the fringe, based on speech melody from original sound bytes from homeless, drug addicts, pimps, prostitutes & prisoners.
All pieces come with simultaneously projected videos & text graphics, on 2 transparent projection screens: one behind the musicians and one between musicians and audience. 

"An unforgettably haunting, stunning, highly dramatic work that archetypally encapsulates urban realities in a powerful, in-your-face, yet compassionately consciousness-raising splendor, if such a modifier can be used for so disturbingly tight, tense, and terse a work. 

Mesmerizing music, pulsating throughout with rock and jazz elements, pop and rap, R&B and electronica. Music urbanly street-sinister, darkly noir, thrillingly full of men and menace, the saxophones so like the human voice, anguished or exultant. Music sharp and synchronized, on cue with the searing video, the one emphasizing the other, magnifying the riveting, arresting impact of the production. Music composed and performed with the technique and precision, aplomb and mastery that come from conservatory training, classical tradition, and evolved into the myriad breakthrough, modern directions of the twentieth century, its legacy becoming the music of our times, today’s contemporary artistic expression that transcends former, formal musical distinctions. Music as multi-media expression in performance, the new composer’s art."

Dianna Ch’an-Moriwaki, San Francisco, CA. USA

"JacobTV samples pop culture and gives it a melody." 

The New York Times 

"Jacob TV's "Cities Change the Songs of Birds" was the eye-popping, jaw-dropping highlight of the Club Contemporary Classical Festival's live line up. Gentle poignancy alternating with in-your-face outrageousness, music mixed with samples and multi-layered visuals offered up a feast for ears and eyes and plenty of food for thought."

Jennifer Dautermann, curator Club Contemporary Classical Festival, Berlin

 Jacob ter Veldhuis a.k.a. JacobTV


JacobTV: DJ - composer - lyrics
Jan Boiten: VJ
Jan Boiten & Jan Willem Looze: lighting & videos
Chris Weeda: sound 

The JacobTV Band:
Mete Erker, Bart Wirtz, Nils van Haften, Miguel Boelen: saxophones
Mick Paauwe: bass 
Arend Niks: drums
Lavinia Meijer: harp (see website) 

Photo impression: click here . 

60 to 90 minutes

TOUR: 2010 + 2011


The News

ABC Studios in Chicago as seen from the street through glass wall, inspiration for JacobTV's THE NEWS


a video opera

THE NEWS is a nonfiction video opera in which language, music, and visuals are equally important, a topical form of Gesammtkunstwerk, entirely based on ready-made footage from the international media: “revealing” one-liners from anchor men and women, politicians, scientists, reverends, sportsmen, movie stars, celebrities, and what have you, discussing global warming, the credit crunch, religion, matters of war and peace and trivialities.  

THE NEWS is entirely based on the technique of speech melody. The melody of speech from every day life, as developed in the early 80s by Scott Johnson and made famous by Steve Reich is also the leitmotif in many of JacobTV’s works. Ordinary speech has hidden musical qualities and becomes “singing” when you add a musical accompaniment to it. 

Language is an important element in THE NEWS: by manipulating the spoken word, one creates new realities, like in poetry. The music is accompanied by rhythmical text animations. By zooming in on the voices and faces of talking heads on television, the opera zooms in on the meaning of words and thoughts and on feelings of today. Nowadays, almost everything on TV, even the most serious news, seems to have become entertainment, manipulated and endlessly repeated with great excitement. What to believe from these “puppet shows”? Luckily, in the midst of all this predictability there are also unexpected moments of great beauty, moments that make television still very interesting, and that is what THE NEWS is about.

Jacob ter Veldhuis a.k.a. JacobTV

The search for authentic emotion is the driving force behind JacobTV’s music. His works based on speech melody are the result of empathetic projection. At the same time, the pieces reflect the absurdity of television-culture, transmitting ordinary people’s most intimate confessions to an audience of millions. But the field of tension between sympathy and revulsion remains purposely unresolved, because JacobTV is capable of reflecting both: the fascination with the connection between rough language and American popmusic styles, as well as the disgust at a merciless emphasizing of impulsive utterances, by minimalistic repetition and musicalization.... Here it becomes clear how near to artists like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons the composer JacobTV actually is. Though inspired in his technique by Steve Reich, he takes completely different directions in substance; he explores the common ground between Andy Warhol’s pop-art and the minimal art of the ‘60’s. In this regard, JacobTV’s music, in which mass-culture is both admired and put in perspective, are like a late form of musical pop-art.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Weiss, Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hannover.

THE NEWS is a radical statement, controversial, shameless and moralizing. Apart from the conclusion, that images and music are extremely fascinating,  the piece and its performance are penetrating and confronting. THE NEWS is like a roller coaster ride, leaving you confused and dazed after you’ve reached the end. While I watched and listened, my thoughts went back to an article in the Chicago Tribune of 1922:

“Moral disaster is coming to hundreds of young American girls through the pathological, nerve-irritating, sex-exciting music of jazz orchestras, according to the Illinois Vigilance Association.” 

A warning about the moral implications of jazz in those days.  Also the work of JacobTV shows, 90 years on, a similar moral dimension. This is jazz that’s invasive and intriguing to the bone.... 

Frank Huser, Jazz Flits

 The scene of the action on stage is a “television studio” where different times and places come together. Two singers represent an anchorman and an anchorwoman who, live on camera, perform interactive duets with the spoken word from the talking heads on 3 huge projection screens behind the ensemble, a triptych like a mediaeval altar piece, involving both visual and audible symmetry and mirroring, adding responsorial chanting, canonic panorama effects etcetera.  

The role of music is crucial here of course, because music can express “the indescribable.” The grooving arias, sentimental chorales, recitatives, and funky divertimenti are written in an accessible hedonistic post-minimal avant-pop style that JacobTV is known for.


JacobTV liveThe score is flexible and will consist of a standard version for about 15 musicians and 4 technicians, including the composer as DJ and video artist Jan Boiten as VJ.
The standard duration will be a little over an hour, without intermission, but can be expanded to an evening-length production, as the piece consists of several “scenes”, as Stockhausen did with his opera Licht.
THE NEWS is an opera that will always have to remain unfinished as the news never stops! And so we will constantly update the piece, depending on world events and trivialities that are striking enough to out them to music.
The band will be a mixture of a jazz band, a rock band, and a classical ensemble and will include  jazz musicians for improvisations.

JacobTV: DJ - music, lyrics, samples, artistic manager
Jan Boiten: VJ - scenography, videos, lighting
Kristien Kerstens: videos 




JacobTV THE NEWS presentation on Dutch TV 27-01-2011 (De Wereld Draait Door)


Biography Jacob ter Veldhuis

Dutch ‘avant pop’ composer JacobTV (Jacob Ter Veldhuis, 1951) started as a rock musician and studied composition and electronic music at the Groningen Conservatory, where he was awarded the Composition Prize of the Netherlands in 1980. He became a full time composer and soon made a name for himself with melodious compositions, straight from the heart and with great effect. ‘I pepper my music with sugar,’ he says. Long queues at the box office of the four-day Jacob TV Festival in Rotterdam in 2001 already attested to his growing popularity. The NRC called him the ‘Jeff Koons of new music’ and his ‘coming-out’ as a composer of ultra-tonal, mellifluous music reached its climax with the video oratorio Paradiso, with videos by Jaap Drupsteen, premiered the day after 9-11 and released on CD and DVD by British record label Chandos.  

JACOBTV - Jacob ter VeldhuisIn the last decade JacobTV’s so called boombox works, for live instruments with a grooving soundtrack based on speech melody, became internationally popular.

Although JacobTV is one of the most performed European composers, he is still an outlaw in the established modern classical music scene, and was recently even accused of ‘musical terrorism’ after a premiere at the World Harp Congress in Amsterdam. According to the Wall Street Journal his newest work ‘makes many a hip-hop artist look sedate’. In 2007 the ‘box set trilogy, an anthology of his work with 12 hours of audio and video, was released by and presented at a 3 day JacobTV mini festival at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. 

JacobTV lives in the Dutch country side and is momentarily composing a video opera called ’The News’ about the credit crunch and other world events, while touring with his JacobTV Band with the multimedia show ‘Cities Change The Songs Of Birds’.

‘Stylistically, Jacob ter Veldhuis is hard to pin down. His classical side is a lush combination of post minimalism and romanticism. While he was working on integrating rock, jazz, and pop culture into his music from one side, he was turning away from high modernism on the other’. 

Sequenza 21

Jacob ter Veldhuis - JACOBTV‘JacobTV is preoccupied with American media and world events and draws raw materials from those sources. His work possesses an explosive strength and raw energy combined with extraordinarily intricate architectural design’.  

Limor Tomer, former curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, now Executive Producer of Music at WNYC. 

‘JacobTV is one of the most intriguing and engaging European composers of today. His control of energy and momentum, in fact, is one of his music's greatest strengths. His fast-moving pieces have an exciting sense of drive and purposefulness, and his more meditative pieces have a logic and quiet intensity that keep them from being meandering or static. TV’s music is emotionally direct, and he possesses an authentic lyrical gift that never sounds like rehashed Romanticism. His music is marked by a gentle optimism that reflects his deliberate rejection of what he perceives as the negativity of much modern music.’

Stephen Eddins, critic of 

Main works: The Rainbow-, Tallahatchie- and Goldrush- concertos, the video oratorio Paradiso, Mountain Top, the 2nd Pianoconcerto ‘Sky Falling’, ‘NOW’, String Quartets 1,2 & 3, Drei Stille Lieder, Diverso il Tempo, Laws of Science, Grab it!, Heartbreakers, Buku, Jesus is coming, May this Bliss never end, the Body of your Dreams, Les Soupirs de Rameau,  Cities change the Songs of Birds, the Postnuclear Winterscenarios, piano trio Nivea Hair Care Styling Mousse, Cheese Cake, Lipstick.

JacobTV was performed by The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Russian State Academy, the Düsseldorf Symfoniker, the Metropole Orchestra, and by soloists such as Branford Marsalis, James Galway, Evelyn Glennie, Ronald Brautigam, Arno Bornkamp, Kevin Gallagher, Margaret Lancaster, Claron McFadden, Thomas Allen,  Andrew Russo and ensembles like Het Nederlands Kamerkoor, Electra, Electric Kompany, Ethel, Fulcrumpoint, Quasar, E.A.R. Unit, Real Quiet, Onyx-, Ruysdael-, Aurelia-, Prism- and New Century Quartet, Safri Duo, Calefax, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, De Volharding, Fireworks, Gending, Combustion Chamber, Glass Farm & Fifh House Ensemble and several others. Choreographers Hans van Manen, Nanine Linning, Annabel Lopez-Ochoa, Dominique Dumais, Johan Inger and others have created ballets on his music in productions for the Nederlands Danstheater, Het Nationaal Ballet, Introdans, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam etc. 




Handelsweg 23
1422 DW Uithhoorn
The Netherlands

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