ⓘ Michel van der Aa
Michel van der Aa was born 10 March 1970 in Oss. He trained as a recording engineer at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and studied composition with Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen.
The music of van der Aa has been performed by ensembles and orchestras internationally. Those include the Asko/Schonberg Ensemble, Freiburger Barockorchester, Ensemble Modern, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, De Nederlandse Opera, Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, Seattle Chamber Players, Ensemble Nomad Tokyo, musikFabrik, Continuum Ensemble Toronto, SWR Orchestra Baden-Baden & Freiburg, Netherlands Radio Orchestras, Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra Sweden, and the Helsinki Avanti Ensemble.
He completed a short program in film directing at the New York Film Academy in 2002. He also participated in the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, a short, intensive course in stage direction in 2007.
Michel van der Aas music theatre works, including the chamber opera One 2002, the opera After Life 2006, Amsterdam and the music theatre work The Book of Disquiet, have received international critical praise. The innovative aspect of these operas is their use of film images and sampled soundtracks as an essential element of the score. Staging, film and music are interwoven into a collage of transparent layers, resulting in a work that is part documentary film and part philosophy.
He directed the television production of One for the Dutch national broadcasting company NPS. Passage 2004, a short film by van der Aa, has been shown at several international festivals and has been aired on Dutch national television.
He has been a featured artist at the Perth Tura New Music Festival and Holland Festival. He has collaborated with choreographers such as Kazuko Hirabayashi, Philippe Blanchard, Ben Wright and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
Van der Aa was recipient of the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1999. He also received the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Award for One in 2004. He received the Siemens Composers Prize in 2005. He also received the Charlotte Kohler Prize for his directing work and the interdisciplinary character of his oeuvre in the same year. He was awarded the Hindemith Prize of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in 2006.
In November 2012 it was announced that van der Aa would be the recipient of the 2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition, for his cello concerto Up-Close, a highly innovative fusion of musical and visual art written for Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. In 2013 he won the Mauricio Kagel Music Prize.
3. Current projects
Van der Aa has recently completed a new 3D film-opera entitled Sunken Garden, in collaboration with David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, Sunken Garden is a joint commission from English National Opera, Barbican Centre, Toronto Luminato Festival, Opera National de Lyon, and the Holland Festival, and was given its premiere by English National Opera under Andre de Ridder at the Barbican Centre, London, on 12 April 2013, with Roderick Williams in the role of Toby.
Forthcoming projects include a clarinet concerto for the London Sinfonietta to be premiered in April 2014 and new pieces for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as part of his long-term partnership with that group, which will include a large orchestral work, a solo concerto, and an evening-length Passion setting for soloists, choir and orchestra, expected to premiere in 2017.
His music is recorded on the Harmonia Mundi, Col Legno, Composers Voice, BVHaast, and VPRO Eigenwijs labels, as well as his own label Disquiet Media.
4.1. Works Opera and music theatre
- Vuur 2001, opera, for solo voice, actors, singers, ensemble and soundtrack
- libretto by the composer
- One 2002, chamber opera, for soprano, soundtrack and film
- libretto by the composer, after Hirokazu Kore-Eda
- After Life 2005–06, opera, for six solo voices, ensemble, soundtrack and film
- libretto after Fernando Pessoa, adapted by the composer
- The Book of Disquiet 2008, music theatre, for actor, ensemble, soundtrack and film
- libretto by David Mitchell
- Sunken Garden 2011–12, opera, for three singers, ensemble, soundtrack and film
- Blank Out 2015-16, chamber opera, for soprano, baritone film, choir film and 3D film
- Eight 2018-19, Virtual Reality Installation, for mezzo-soprano, soprano, choir, soundtrack, VR
4.2. Works Orchestra
- Here 1995, for soprano, clarinet, cello and soundtrack
- ballet, commissioned by the Richard Alston Dance Company in collaboration with Ben Wright
- See-Through 2000, for orchestra
- 70 minute theatre/dance work, commissioned by the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra and the Ostgota Dance Company
- Staring at the Space 1995–96, for chamber orchestra
- a large-scale 90 minute dance work, commissioned by the New National Theatre Tokyo, choreographed by Kazuko Hirabayashi
- Faust 1998, for ensemble and soundtrack
- The New Maths 2000, for soprano, traverso, marimba, violin and soundtrack
- Co-commissioned score with Louis Andriessen for a short film directed by Hal Hartley, for the BBC and NPS
- Solitaire 2003, for violin and soundtrack
- ballet, commissioned by the Het Nationaal Ballet, Den Bosch
4.3. Works Other
- The Book of Sand 2015, digital interactive song cycle, based on Jorge Luis Borges short story "The Book of Sand", with Kate Miller-Heidke
- Writing to Vermeer 1999, opera by Louis Andriessen and Peter Greenaway, with the thirteen electronic music inserts which accompany a corresponding film projection composed by van der Aa.