When you hear the names Slings & Kerkhof, one immediately thinks of Anky van Grunsven's world famous kurs to music like Bonfire's Symphony, West Side Story, and, of course, L' Esprit Chanson. Van Grunsven has been the undefeated queen of the kur, so far, and all her freestyles have been designed by the Dutch composers duo Cees Slings and Victor Kerkhof.
I met this illustrous duo for the first time at the PSI/FEI Freestyle Forum in Ankum, Germany, in February 2005. They held the most interesting speech at the two-day seminar, revealing their principles and work routine for composing a top quality kur to music. With much bravura, Slings exposed the secret to their success, which implies no copy pasting of samples, but the writing one complete musical composition that fits every single footfall of the horse's hooves exactly. At the end of their session in Ankum, I was quite impressed by what I had heard and my respect for Anky's L'Esprit Chanson had grown exponentially.
However, there is huge difference between theory and practise and when I was offered to bridge that gap by witnessing the entire process of the making of a Slings & Kerkhof's kur, I could not decline the opportunity. As of September 2004, the Dutch composers untied themselves from Anky van Grunsven and are now independent freestyle designers who take on new clients world wide. In April 2005, the duo received a project from British World Class Performance Rider Wayne Channon and I joined the three of them on their musical joyride.
For Channon, the choice to hire Slings & Kerkhof was easy. “They are simply the best in the business. All their kurs demonstrate their deep understanding of dressage and music. Every kur is an original design and the music exactly reflects every movement performed in the test,” he said.
Cees agreed to keep a journal on the design of this new freestyle and was willing to share his observations with the Eurodressage readers.