Friday, September 17, 2004

For those who have a special interest in the US Netherlands Cemetery at Margraten, I have this report on a very moving event at the Cemetery:

At September 17, 2004 an exceptional event took place at the American War Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands. It was exactly sixty years ago that Belgium and this part of the Netherlands were liberated from Nazi occupation.

The Impromptu / In Situ Foundation from Maastricht had devised a very special way to honor the fallen soldiers at Margraten.

More than a 1,000 people were present at the cemetery on this beautiful summer afternoon. They were present for the dedication of the soundscape ALL NAMES.

ALL NAMES is based on the names of the fallen soldiers who are buried at Margraten, or of the missing men whose names have been engraved in the walls.

ALL NAMES is a musical concept consisting of a sound field that can be heard on tape at the cemetery. In preparation to this project, all of the 10,000 names of the fallen soldiers had been recorded by children – from the Netherlands and Belgium and by people who have adopted war graves at Margraten (I recorded 50 names myself).

The cemetery is divided in 24 plots, and in the center of each plot a large speaker was placed for the performance of the soundscape.

Wandering over the cemetery you could experience this landscape of sound. Sometime you could hear one name at a time, then a chorus of a hundred voices, rambling of the names. Fragments of war speeches, of marching soldiers. Here the names were mixed with music, there together with a heart beat.

Click Here! for soundfile 1

Tiny clear voices of children who did their best to pronounce the difficult American names, with their French or Dutch accent. Old voices, often of people who had adopted a war grave as far back as 1945.

Click Here! for soundfile 2

This second synchronized over a number of plots, the next minute broken down to different names. It seemed like the sea of crosses had come alive with ALL NAMES.

The soundscape lasted over the weekend, and was very well attended. It was a thrilling experience to be there and to be part of this memorial to the men who paid the price of freedom with their lives.

Best regards, Joost Claassens, The Netherlands

The photos & sound files were provided by Gerry Morenski, with thanks
to Gerry and also to Joost Claassens, Gerry's contact in the Netherlands
who was kind enough to share this experience with us!