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TEDSalon Berlin 2014

Daria van den Bercken: Why I take the piano on the road … and in the air

June 24, 2014

Pianist Daria van den Bercken fell in love with the baroque keyboard music of George Frideric Handel. Now, she aims to ignite this passion in others. In this talk, she plays us through the emotional roller coaster of his music — while sailing with her piano through the air, driving it down the street, and of course playing on the stage.

Daria van den Bercken - Pianist
Daria van den Bercken has played piano with major Dutch orchestras, and performed many a recital in her country’s famed concert halls. But her larger vision is to bring classical music to the masses. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Recently, I flew over a crowd
00:17
of thousands of people in Brazil
00:19
playing music by George Frideric Handel.
00:21
I also drove along the streets of Amsterdam,
00:25
again playing music by this same composer.
00:28
Let's take a look.
00:31
(Music: George Frideric Handel, "Allegro."
Performed by Daria van den Bercken.)
00:34
(Video) Daria van den Bercken: I
live there on the third floor.
00:53
(In Dutch) I live there on the corner.
00:55
I actually live there, around the corner.
00:57
and you'd be really welcome.
00:59
Man: (In Dutch) Does that sound like fun?
Child: (In Dutch) Yes!
01:01
[(In Dutch) "Handel house concert"]
01:03
(Applause)
01:28
Daria van den Bercken: All this was a real
01:40
magical experience for hundreds of reasons.
01:42
Now you may ask, why have I done these things?
01:45
They're not really typical for a musician's
01:48
day-to-day life.
01:50
Well, I did it because I fell in love with the music
01:52
and I wanted to share it with as many people
01:56
as possible.
01:59
It started a couple of years ago.
02:01
I was sitting at home on the couch with the flu
02:03
and browsing the Internet a little,
02:07
when I found out that Handel had written works
02:09
for the keyboard.
02:12
Well, I was surprised. I did not know this.
02:14
So I downloaded the sheet music and started playing.
02:16
And what happened next was
02:21
that I entered this state of pure,
02:22
unprejudiced amazement.
02:26
It was an experience
02:29
of being totally in awe of the music,
02:31
and I had not felt that in a long time.
02:34
It might be easier to relate to this when you hear it.
02:38
The first piece that I played through
02:42
started like this.
02:46
(Music)
02:49
Well this sounds very melancholic, doesn't it?
03:14
And I turned the page and what came next
03:18
was this.
03:21
(Music)
03:23
Well, this sounds very energetic, doesn't it?
03:50
So within a couple of minutes,
03:54
and the piece isn't even finished yet,
03:57
I experienced two very contrasting characters:
03:59
beautiful melancholy and sheer energy.
04:03
And I consider these two elements to be
04:07
vital human expressions.
04:09
And the purity of the music makes you hear it
04:12
very effectively.
04:14
I've given a lot of children's concerts
04:19
for children of seven and eight years old,
04:22
and whatever I play, whether it's Bach, Beethoven,
04:25
even Stockhausen,
04:29
or some jazzy music,
04:30
they are open to hear it,
04:33
really willing to listen,
04:35
and they are comfortable doing so.
04:37
And when classes come in
04:40
with children who are just a few years older,
04:42
11, 12, I felt that I sometimes already had trouble
04:45
in reaching them like that.
04:50
The complexity of the music does become an issue,
04:52
and actually the opinions of others —
04:56
parents, friends, media — they start to count.
05:00
But the young ones, they don't question
05:04
their own opinion.
05:07
They are in this constant state of wonder,
05:10
and I do firmly believe that we can keep listening
05:13
like these seven-year-old children,
05:17
even when growing up.
05:19
And that is why I have played
05:22
not only in the concert hall
05:24
but also on the street, online, in the air:
05:26
to feel that state of wonder,
05:30
to truly listen,
05:33
and to listen without prejudice.
05:35
And I would like to invite you
05:39
to do so now.
05:41
(Music: George Frideric Handel, "Chaconne in G Major."
Performed by Daria van den Bercken.)
05:50
(Applause)
09:17
Thank you.
09:23
(Applause)
09:25

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Daria van den Bercken - Pianist
Daria van den Bercken has played piano with major Dutch orchestras, and performed many a recital in her country’s famed concert halls. But her larger vision is to bring classical music to the masses.

Why you should listen

Pianist Daria van den Bercken makes classical music lovers — and those who had no idea that they appreciated this kind of music — listen to classic composers with fresh ears. She has played with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and is a regular guest at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. But it’s bringing classic music to unexpected audiences where her passion engages.

While sick with the flu several years ago, Daria discovered the keyboard compositions of George Frideric Handel. She wanted to bring these beautiful works to the masses. With her project ‘Handel at the Piano,’ she played these pieces in unexpected places — even flying with her piano 25-feet over the audience at the Virada Cultural Festival in São Paulo, Brazil. Through a series of concerts, and an album, she asked audiences to rethink Handel.

Daria’s latest project is 'Keys to Mozart,' an effort to breathe new life into Mozart’s piano works. She is preparing to record an album for Sony Classical and will play a series of concerts too.

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