The 2024 FESTIVAL CLASSIQUE on the beach

From the 13th to the 15th of June, Festival Classique converted a section of the Scheveningen beach into its very own festival site. The landmark; especially designed for the fete was labelled “Light Pavilion,” which brought musicians from near and far to perform on the sandy beach of Scheveningen strand with its vast expanse of ocean stretching out before the onslaught of classical music enthusiasts.

   I went to see Dutch classical pianist and composer Jeroen Van Veen who played an hour-long piano arrangement all by himself with no fancy, nor frills to hide behind. To paint you a picture; in the middle of the stage stood a large, black grand piano whose silky shine could be seen from a mile away. When Van Veen waltzed onto the stage in his grey suit and bright purple dress shoes, he took his place behind the piano and performed approximately twelve songs without really any stop. He performed a selection of Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi’s best works, blending popular pieces from iTunes and Spotify charts with the composer’s contrasting compositions from 1996 to 2023. The performance included beloved tracks such as Una Mattina, I Giorni, Nuvole Bianche and Experience, all played as a continuous composition, with only a brief breath between each to signal the transition from one song to the next.

 Van Veen’s performance was mesmerising in its own right, but Festival Classique enhanced it with its inaugural reclining concert, setting the stage for an unforgettable show. Festival goers were invited to bring their mats and blankets, encouraging a unique blend of relaxation and musical immersion. I made the mistake of sitting upon a wooden bench and while my back hurt for most of it, I was still utterly engrossed by the soothing sounds emulating from the Van Veen’s playing. The only thing that distracted me was the squawking seagulls sailing above our heads. Thankfully, the audience didn’t bring any snacks with them.  

  The beach setting, combined with the open air and the serene sounds of the sea, created a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Having said that, the performance was held on an exceptionally overcast night. As the sun began to set behind a flurry of grey clouds, subtle shades of silver spread across the sky highlighting Van Veen’s performance and purple cap-toe shoes more than any spotlight could ever do. Festival Classique’s decision to blend the natural beauty of Scheveningen’s beach with the serene sounds of Einaudi was a stroke of genius. Whether seated on wooden benches or lounging in the sand with a unique Festival Classique beach towel and a complimentary drink, the audience was treated to an unforgettable sensory journey. This concert was not merely an event, but a transcendent experience.  Eva Lakeman  15th June 2024