PRESS RELEASE – BOOSEY & HAWKES – 26 November 2013
Dutch composer Michel van der Aa has won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his multimedia work Up-Close, which offers a unique blend of cello concerto with film.
The Grawemeyer Award, granted annually by the University of Louisville, is the world’s most prestigious composition prize, worth $100,000 (EUR78,000). Van der Aa’s Up-Close, premiered in 2011, was selected from a wide international field of entries, and the Grawemeyer’s prize announcement describes how “the 30-minute work is a highly innovative fusion of musical and visual art. It’s a virtuoso concerto but also a fascinating multimedia experience that defies simple classification. It really creates its own genre.”
Michel van der Aa writes of his reaction on winning the award:
“It is a huge honour to win the 2013 Grawemeyer Award. I am touched to receive such a significant acknowledgement of my work, and feel humbled to be listed alongside so many previous recipients that I greatly admire. I’d like to say thanks from the bottom of my heart to Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson and Vakil Eelman, who were essential for the birth of this piece. I especially want to thank Sol Gabetta, the ultimate protagonist; her passion, virtuosity, and openness were a true source of inspiration.”
Michel van der Aa, aged 42, wrote Up-Close for the Argentinian- French cellist Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The work was commissioned by the European Concert Hall Organization, with support from the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Performing Arts Fund. It received its first performance in Stockholm in 2011 with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta directed by Candida Thompson accompanying Gabetta as soloist. Following its premiere, the same performers toured the work to concert halls throughout Europe, visiting such cities as Luxembourg, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and Hamburg, and receiving high acclaim from both audiences and critics. The label Disquiet Media, founded by van der Aa, released a DVD and movie download of the work in performance in 2011.
“A solo cellist begins with a melancholy, yet insistent soliloquy. As the string orchestra behind her joins in, an image suddenly appears on screen. In the middle of a deserted concert stage, laid out exactly as for the concerto, we see an elderly woman, scribbling coded messages on sheets of paper”, said van der Aa, who composed and filmed the work. As the piece progresses, the music and film begin to mirror each other. The older woman seems to be an alter ego of the cellist, but much is left unexplained. The piece can be performed by string forces of variable size from ensemble to orchestral.
About the Grawemeyer Awards
The University of Louisville awards half a million dollars, $100,000 each for music composition, education, ideas improving world order, religion and psychology. The selection process includes a jury of professionals from each discipline and a knowledgeable lay panel. The Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition was established in 1984 and previous winning composers have included György Kurtag, Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho, John Adams, Krysztof Penderecki, Louis Andriessen and Gyorgy Ligeti. The late Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville graduate who had a lifelong passion for music, education and religious studies.
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