Leraar, dirigent, componist, arrangeur. Studeerde contrapunt, fuga, orkest- en hafabra-directie respectievelijk bij Jan Haderman, Edmond Saveniers en Jan van der Roost aan het Lemmensinstituut te Leuven, voltooide er zijn studies met een dubbele meestergraad in muziekopvoeding en hafabra-directie (1998). Behaalde vervolgens het Masters-diploma ‘Music Design for Film & Television’ aan de ‘Bournemouth Media School’ in Engeland waar hij studeerde om zich toe te leggen op het componeren voor musical, film en televisie.
Als muziekpedagoog was hij actief in diverse scholen en organisaties: als leraar was hij 4 jaar verbonden aan de humaniora en muziekhumaniora te Hasselt. Hij werkte daarbij 7 jaar lang als componist, arrangeur en live-muzikant voor het muzikaal kindertheater Wiebe. Momenteel geeft hij les aan de Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg en aan de muziekacademies van Lanaken en Genk.
Onder de impulsen van Jan Cober ontplooit hij zich steeds meer als gastdirigent van zijn eigen composities. Daarnaast is hij een regelmatige gast op clinics en workshops in binnen- en buitenland. Als componist schreef hij naast twee musicals reeds een 40-tal werken voor koor, kamermuziekensembles, blaasorkest en symfonisch orkest. Naast dit uitgebreid repertoire, schreef hij ook een aantal popnummers, muziek voor jeugdtheater, muziekbundels met een pedagogisch karakter en muziek voor kinderen, een medium waarmee hij erg vertrouwd is.
Hij staat bekend voor zijn virtuoze instrumentatietechniek en het componeren van prachtige thema´s. Veel van zijn werken zijn gebaseerd op legendes, mythes of historische thema´s, wat zijn muziek een bijzonder élan geeft. Zijn werken worden intussen in meer dan 20 landen uitgevoerd en bijna al zijn composities werden op CD opgenomen door gerenommeerde orkesten uit o.a.Japan, Zwitserland, Nederland, Denemarken, Duitsland, Italië, Spanje en België.
www.bertappermont.be uitgeverij Beriato
INTERVIEW CLARINO (augustus 2005) – enkel beschikbaar in het Engels: How did your interest in music start? The choice of becoming a musician started at young age. While playing the clarinet, I discovered that I had a certain talent for music and I wanted to develop it. My father was a very passionate amatory musician and the secretarial of the local wind band. His father, who was an excellent singer, (opera and operetta) founded this band after the war, so there was some kind of tradition of (band)music in my family already present. Together with my 2 older brothers, I never missed the weekly rehearsals without a thorough reason and early on discovered the fun of playing in an orchestra. At the age of 14, I went to study at a musical secondary school and started to play the piano.
Which music made the biggest impression on you? As a child I listened to pop music most of the time, but at the age of 15 my interest in classical music started, when I discovered the record collection of my parents. I remember listening to the typical great masterpieces and Mozart’s requiem was my favourite composition those days. I probably must have listened to it more then a hundred times. At that point I had no notion of any talent for composition what so ever, and composing anything at all was out of the question then.
How did you discover your compositional talents? How did you develop them?
At the age of 18, I didn’t’ know what to study in music at all. Because of my broad interest field and because I was talented in both the theoretical and the practical aspects of music, I decided to study music education. During this training, I discovered that I really enjoyed the courses counterpoint and written harmony and that I was quite good at it too. In my spare time I experimented with synthesizers and computers together with a friend. We composed all kinds of music just for fun: ballads, 2 movements of a requiem, even dance music. At a certain point, we started to compose something for wind band to enter a contest. We never won the contest but realised our music had a lot of potential. After contacting a few publishers who refused to publish the music, we decided to let a new Belgian company publish our first piece (The Quest). After composing two pieces together, I wanted to write music on my own. My first larger piece for wind band (Noah’s Ark) became a huge success, and it only became bigger. Now composing has become a part of who I am.
How did you develop your pedagogic skills? Becoming a teacher wasn’t really what I wanted when I started my higher education. But when I started working with children, I noticed there was something about them that fascinated me. It was their openness and creative spirit that I missed in my contacts with adults. I met a primary school teacher and we started our own musical theatre company for children named “Wiebe”. In the seven years we worked together, we published 4 books and 6 CD’s full of music for children. In the beginning I went along for the live performances, but after a few years it was too much work. I remember that our shows were always a great success, even the parents joined in to sing, dance and act in our self made fantasy tales. It was great fun, and we reached a lot of children.
In that period, I started teaching music to unmotivated students in secondary school. This rather negative experience destroyed my ambitions as a teacher for a while: I stopped and went to study music for film in England to find out what I wanted to do with my life. Coming back, I was a stronger person and started teaching again after a year. Working in the right professional environment and with a different attitude, I discovered the good things of being a teacher: working with different age groups, inspiring people to become musicians, the contacts with colleagues, experiencing the joy of seeing children singing and dancing,… Teaching also learns you a lot of things about yourself. You have to be alert all the time and try not to become angry or agitated, and it trains your patience too.
Is there an inner conflict about what are your priorities? What do you prefer -teaching, composing or even making music?
I don’t really call it a conflict, it is more looking for the right balance. Sometimes that’s easy, but sometimes it can be very difficult. When I’m in the process of composing music, for example, it is very difficult to go teaching, because my mind is somewhere else.
In the same way composing is out of the question when I have a lot of school work that I just have to do. Sometimes teaching can take up too much time, but I like to look upon the combination as an enrichment in stead of something negative. I believe the one gives inspiration for the other. My passion is composing, but I do like to teach as well as making music. But I just don’t have time to make music myself any more. Luckily I can conduct enough and play a lot of piano while composing.
What music do you prefer to compose? I think music in general should speak to people on an emotional and psychological level. This means my aim is to make music that has emotional depth, that inspires you, that makes you dream, hope, think, love, live. I am convinced that music is one of the strongest forces that exist to reach people in an unexplainable but very powerful way. As a composer I try to use this force in the best possible manner. Up till now I composed music that is still accessible for a big audience, because I want to reach as many people as possible. But there are layers of understanding and levels of musical and spiritual insight which you can reach, therefore there is so much different music in the world. The ultimate goal is to reach the transformational qualities of the music of Mahler one day, but I wonder if it is possible to get that far. I will keep on searching for this, who knows what I’ll find? Getting half way would be nice already.
Are there different moods to influence this – every year or every month or daily?
I think that when you compose there is some subconscious influence of emotional moods sometime, but in my experience, when you feel too emotional you can’t compose at all. You need to be strong and open minded and there is a large thinking process that takes place too.
Influences can come from other music of aspects from daily life, politics, history, fantasy, nature and so many more. Inspiration comes and goes, and –as my counterpoint teacher use to say-: “Composing is 5% inspiration and 95´% of transpiration. Now I know, he was right about that. It is a very consuming job to do, because nothing else matters when you are in the process of creation. It is like a wave you surf on, if you’re on it, you don’t want to lose it. But at the same time you just can’t hold on to it, because the emotional impact can be immense and the world around you continues. To create a masterpiece, I think you must abandon earthly life for a while and try to stay in the creative dimension as long as possible. But in this world dominated by information, cell phones and media, this isn’t always easy to do.
Your seem like an emotional and spontaneous person.
Is this a preliminary characteristic to become an artist and especially a composer? If yes – I know quite a few composers that do not really apply to this description... Why do they sell their scores anyway?
I think to compose emotional music, you must be an emotional and spontaneous person. But composing has a big intellectual dimension too. I think some composers are more intellectuals in stead of people with a rich emotional life. A lot of people still think music has to be complicated in order to be good, but I think this is incorrect. There is a certain value in writing intellectual music, but more on an experimental level. At the end of the day music is a form of communication, and if you speak in too difficult words, no one will understand what you are trying to say. I don’t mind that this happens, every one is entitled to his own opinion.
What fascinates you in wind music? Wind instruments have certain qualities which I really love as a composer: the power of brass instruments and the delicateness of woodwinds. The tone colour of certain instruments are so beautiful and by combining them you get new sounds which can be great. Each instrument has a certain quality which a try to use in the best possible way when I compose. I often start from the instrument itself in stead of the other way round. A certain melody can fit an instrument wonderful, but it can sound terrible when played by another. Puzzling your ideas of the music you want to write together with all the possible instrumental combinations and possibilities continues to be a great challenge.
What is the difference composing for band and composing for choir for example? When you compose for a choir you miss out on all the colours of the different instruments and you have less possibilities in amplitude. But voices have a unique sound too and can sound really beautiful, because singing comes from deep inside. The combination of voices with orchestra is perhaps the most beautiful one there is. And I love string instruments too, but there aren’t a lot of symphony orchestra’s around…
Is there anything in the music business that irritates you or makes you angry? If yes, why do you stick to it?
I tend not to get angry about the music business. The only problem I face is the pressure of being creative at the one hand and making money with it on the other. It gets more difficult to write the music you really want to write, because there is always the element of commerce involved. I try to stay loyal to myself and bring into account what people think of what I do at the same time. It feels almost like a mission for me sometimes, I can’t escape it, I have to compose in this life. So that is what I do.
Are your a religious person? You are educating at schools with katholic names, your compositions carry religious names (Gilgamesh, Jericho)? Or is it just the rich impact of dramas and emotions that stories of the bible provide? I am not catholic but I believe in the presence of a source that is bigger than we people can imagine. You can call it love or God, it is the same thing. In my opinion, all religions carry the same essence in them, the same values and the same messages and wisdom. Unfortunately people use religion for intentions that aren’t religious at all. They speak about love, but they kill a person who believes in “another” God. I think they misunderstood what it is really about. The world needs more tolerance, there is too much selfishness, people want more and more all the time. I believe God is within us, you can feel him if you want, in music that floats through you for example, or in nature, or in so many things.
What the bible stories are concerned, it is full of great stories of people who can still speak to us today. Any story can work as a metaphor for what we can experience in life. Music can be a great mirror of human life through identification.
What are your dreams – concerning your career as a composer and conductor and concerning your private life? In my private life, I dream of having a family and great kids which I can help to become good persons with an open mind.
What conducting my music is concerned, I hope to help people to understand what I do and what music is really about. The communicational value of this process is immense, it is great to take part in this. As a guest conductor I hope to inspire as many people as possible.
As a composer, I hope to continue to compose a lot of music for any kind of (orchestral) form. In this process I hope to reach both musicians and listeners in any kind of way. If even just one person enjoys playing my music, it gives meaning to what I do. I still dream of composing a requiem or a true masterpiece some day. It is an ongoing quest of trying to discover the unique impact of music and the ways of how to use it. Experiencing this for even just a second makes life beautiful.