Rotterdammers with an enclosed courtyard or patio can usher in the weekend with a private concert. Under the name BIRD on the Block, podium BIRD organises performances by local musicians. You and the other residents in your block can enjoy soul and jazz from your balcony or terrace.
It started in Blijdorp
‘The idea of the enclosed courtyard concerts arose when someone from Blijdorp asked us to think about a live concert in their garden,’ says Philip Powel, co-owner of BIRD. ‘We saw an opportunity to set up the plan more broadly. We examined whether we could organise the concerts within the guidelines of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and looked at what a concert had to cost to make it viable. Once we had that figured out, we were able to get started.’
Listen from your balcony
Anyone who lives in a Rotterdam neighbourhood with a shared courtyard can register for a concert. There is room for one performance every week, on Friday evening. Philip Powel: ‘In these times of working from home, the difference between weekdays and weekends fades. Listening to music on your balcony on Friday with a glass of wine in hand is a great way to mark the start of the weekend.’
‘When people register, we first check whether the courtyard meets the requirements,’ says Philip Powel. ‘The musicians must be able to stand a meter and a half apart and the garden must be closed off. If casual passers-by have access to the place, it’s not suitable because it’s not supposed to be a public event.’
Music that suits the neighbourhood
If after a site visit the place meets the requirements, the BIRD team will look for a suitable act. Philip Powel: ‘To keep the required distance, we stick to a maximum of two artists. These can be vocalists, but also musicians. We have a large local network of emerging artists and try to match the act to the neighbourhood and the residents. The music must also suite BIRD’s style, and is, therefore, mainly soul and jazz-related. The music must also be accessible to a wide audience and have a warm sound that suits these times.’
A private concert for the whole block
BIRD asks for a guaranteed amount for each concert. Philip Powel: ‘We hope it’s a reasonable amount that people can easily afford, but that also values the artists. More is needed to cover all the costs. That’s why we ask the public for a donation afterwards, and if necessary, we will make an additional contribution too.’
The first concert was an immediate success. Philip Powel: ‘People really appreciated it, this was reflected in their reactions. The weather was lovely, residents listened on the balcony in the sun. The concert lasts a maximum of half an hour so that the artists and the audience can give it their full attention.’
Previous initiatives from BIRD include BIRDtv, a live stream with DJ sets from Rotterdam DJs on Friday and Saturday, and concerts from the BIRD café on Wednesday. BIRD also hopes to continue with the courtyard concerts. ‘We hope to organise the concerts for as long as people register for them,’ says Philip Powel. ‘Given the enthusiastic reactions, we might even consider continuing once the measures are relaxed and our stage is allowed to open again.’
You can request a Courtyard Concert via on the website of BIRD. The concerts take place on Friday evening and last a maximum of half an hour. You can also give a concert as a gift.
Text: Renee Schouwenburg
Photo credits: Bird