Classical music and ‘serious games’ in a radical listening maze

Luistermutant 2020

Micha Hamel, Arlon Luijten philharmonie zuidnederland

It’s 2020, and it’s make-or-break time for 19th-century composer Mendelssohn. Will he be able to hold his own in this dizzyingly varied spectacle, will he survive level three of the interactive listening game? Composer Micha Hamel and director Arlon Luijten invite listeners of all ages and ranges of experience to let their curiosity lead the way. In an ingenious listening environment full of challenging assignments, the audience can assume the role of ‘listening mutants’, sharpening their ears and experiencing music in a radically new way. Luistermutant 2020 (‘Listening mutant 2020’) requires the audience to actively participate in installations and ‘serious games’. Guides are present to give pointers or raise questions: what is that philosopher talking about? And why is classical music still relevant today? Gain the right listening skills for the concert hall and beyond: ‘Mendelssohn, your game is on.’


Micha Hamel (Amsterdam, 1970) is a composer, poet, and researcher. His concert music was performed by nearly all major Dutch orchestras and ensembles. In 2008, his tragic operetta Snow White (Nederlandse Reisopera) toured the country to great acclaim.

In June 2012, he was ‘Composer in focus' at the Holland Festival, for which he composed two full-evening works: a Requiem for our civilizational ideal and an interdisciplinary production inspired by the painting The Red Kimono by George Hendrik Breitner. In 2014, his full-evening melodrama Een pure formaliteit (‘A Pure Formality’, theatre group Orkater) was well-received. His opera Caruso a Cuba (Dutch National Opera, 2019) was praised in both the national and international press. He published five volumes of poetry with the publisher AtlasContact. His latest collection of poems Toen het moest (2017) stood out with its unconventional typography and imaginative approach to language. He also makes poetic experiences for virtual reality in collaboration with the animation artist Demian Albers (studio Apvis, Breda). These installations are found at various festivals of technology, contemporary art, and literature, and draw a diverse audience. Since 2010, Micha Hamel has served as 'Performance Practice’ lecturer at Codarts University for the Arts, Rotterdam, where he does research on new directional and necessary developments in the concert practice. The report of his first research project appeared under the title Speelruimte voor klassieke muziek in de 21ste eeuw (‘Playroom for classical music in the 21st Century’). He is currently researching whether video games are a suitable medium for getting audiences involved with classical music in a quality manner. This interdisciplinary project is called GAMPSISS and is a collaboration between Codarts, the TU Delft , the Erasmus University, and the Willem de Kooning Academy. Since 2015, Micha Hamel has been a member of the Akademie van Kunsten of the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), where he chairs the Arts and Science section.


Arlon Luijten studied at the Toneelacademie Maastricht and was granted the Hustinx award upon completing his studies. Luijten developed theatrical playing fields that bridge the world within and outside theatre and that combine elements from opera, theatre, amusement, mythology, serious gaming, technology, research, and education. He challenges audiences, citizens, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, and the government to collaborate in these. As a director, Arlon Luijten makes layered, polymorphic, and conceptually constructed productions (musical theatre, opera, installations, and events) that are characterised by a grand theatricality and are full of spectacular show elements. In this way, he defies the idiom of so-called high and low culture and challenges various target groups in their viewing habits and experience. Arlon Luijten’s productions are consistently performed with new compositions and live music by a surprising combination of performers. His work was produced by ALBA Theaterhuis, KORZO, Operadagen Rotterdam, Holland Opera, and Kameroperahuis. Between 2012-2016, Luijten created the urban opera PARSIFAL, playingfields for Operadagen Rotterdam with a game performance as a component. Luijten has since been doing research on interactivity and gamification as dramaturgical means of not only getting the audience to participate, but of making it complicit in the artwork as well. In 2018, Luijten founded Little Wotan, an urban laboratory in which he further explores and expands on this work and working method. Luijten is an instructor involved in various bachelor and master programs. He is also involved in GAMPSISS, a collaborative project between Codarts, WDKA, the TU Delft, and Erasmus University Rotterdam, in which he researches and develops 'Gameful Music Performances for Smart, Inclusive and Sustainable Societies'. Since 2016, Arlon Luijten has been a Dutch member of the European Cultural Parliament, in which he works on new international collaborations.



artistic concept
Micha Hamel, Arlon Luijten
Arlon Luijten
Bram Kortekaas, Felix Mendelssohn
Daniël van Klaveren
Arlon Luijten, Annebeth Erdbrink, Rens Kortmann, Micha Hamel, Janna Michael
Jonathan Heyward
Janna Michael, Annebeth Erdbrink, Micha Hamel, Rens Kortmann, Koen van Eijck
performed by
philharmonie zuidnederland, studenten:
Willem de Kooning Academie, Codarts Rotterdam, Jeugdtheaterschool Zuidoost

This performance was made possible with support by