Michel van der Aa

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April 2018

Press acclaim for US premieres

JanineCarnegie_13-03-2018Janine Jansen

Two major premieres in the USA last month have won widespread acclaim, continuing Van der Aa’s successful US season. On 8 March Janine Jansen gave the first US performance of the composer’s Violin Concerto, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra, following this up with a second performance at Carnegie Hall five days later Meanwhile, in Texas, Dallas Opera presented the first US production of Sunken Garden on four nights between 9 and 17 March, with on-stage singers Roderick Williams, Katherine Manley and Miah Persson conducted by Nicole Paiement.
Both works were warmly received by the US press. Eric C. Simpson in the New York Classical Review called Jansen’s Carnegie Hall performance of the Violin Concerto ‘stunning’ and ‘riveting’. Describing the composer as ‘a consummate entertainer’, James R. Oestreich of the New York Times wrote that while the concerto was ‘less overtly theatrical’ than the operas The Book of Disquiet and Blank Out, it was ‘hardly less inventive musically’.
Of Sunken Garden, Monica Smart of the Dallas Observer wrote that ‘Van der Aa moved outside the boundaries of opera to create a fantasy world where the difficult questions of life cannot be escaped’. Scott Cantrell of the Dallas News praised all the singers, noting in particular the ‘radiant’ sopranos Manley and Persson, and the ‘warmth and clarity’ of Williams’ baritone. He further wrote that ‘Sunken Garden takes opera into new dimensions – literally.’

February 2018

US Premieres of Sunken Garden and Violin Concerto

Janine JansenJanine Jansen

March 8 kicks off a busy month for Michel van der Aa, who has two major works receiving US premieres: his 2014 Violin Concerto for Janine Jansen, being performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia and later at Carnegie Hall in New York; and his film-opera Sunken Garden, presented by the Dallas Opera.

Michel van der Aa’s 2017–2018 season (which kicked off with the hugely successful US premiere of Blank Out at the Park Avenue Armory) ramps up in March with US premieres of two major works. His Violin Concerto premieres on March 8 with Janine Jansen and the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who also bring the work to Carnegie Hall on March 13 for its New York premiere. On March 9–17, the Dallas Opera presents the first US production of Van der Aa’s occult-mystery film-opera Sunken Garden.

December 2017

First Greek performances for The Book of Disquiet

Ana and oxAna Moura

The Book of Disquiet is to receive its first Greek performances on 15 and 16 December, at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens. Making use of a new Greek translation by Annie Spyrakou, the opera will feature the actor Miltiadis Fiorentzis, and the Greek contemporary music group Ergon Ensemble, conducted by Kasper de Roo.

A cutting-edge integration of music, live action and video, The Book of Disquiet is built from text fragments by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. In his work, Pessoa often cast himself in a series of distinct characters, or ‘heteronyms’, portrayed as multiple personalities on the video and soundtrack of Van der Aa’s work. His ‘Book of Disquiet’ was a posthumously reconstructed autobiography of the alter ego Bernando Soares, described as a ‘mutilation’ of Pessoa’s own personality – an obsessive cataloguer of anecdotes, dreams and moods that gradually push him closer to the nature of the self.

Van der Aa’s third piece of music theatre, premiered in 2009, is also one of his most widely performed. Last season it was staged in London and New York, receiving strong reviews in both cities. In his 5-star review for The Times in London, Richard Morrison described how Pessoa’s ‘manic intensity beneath a seemingly static surface is wonderfully explored in Van der Aa’s score’, while the New York Times’s James R. Ostreich found it ‘memorable … imaginative … riveting’.

Tickets and more information may be found here.

October 2017

New semi-staged version of Sunken Garden for Amsterdam and Essen

Sunken Garden semi-stagedSunken Garden

On 21 October the NTR ZaterdagMatinee will host the first performance of the semi-staged version of Van der Aa’s fourth opera, Sunken Garden at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A re-imagining of the work, based on its second version made for Opéra de Lyon in 2015, it will be then taken to the Essen Philharmonie on 29 October before a new staging and its US premiere at the Dallas Opera in March 2018. For the October performances, the singers Roderick Williams, Katherine Manley and Claron McFadden will be supported by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, conducted by André de Ridder. In Dallas, the Dallas Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Nicole Paiement, and Williams, Manley and Miah Persson will star.

Sunken Garden connects the disappearances of a software engineer and a glamorous young socialite, with a neurotic film-maker of dubious credentials and a gullible patroness of the arts. An occult-mystery film-opera with a libretto by British novelist David Mitchell, it deals in bright hoax and dark truth, in patronage and manipulation, in the virtual and the bodily, in the isolation of the broadband age, and in the primal impulse to cheat mortality at any cost. Previous performances of the opera have been given, to acclaim, at London’s Barbican, the Amsterdam Holland Festival and Opéra de Lyon.

about

Michel van der Aa (Netherlands, 1970) is a truly multidisciplinary figure in contemporary music. A unique voice, he combines composition with film and stage direction, and script writing. Classical instruments, voices, electronic sound, actors, theatre and video are all seamless extensions of his musical vocabulary.

upcoming performances

  • 29 November 2019
    Violin Concerto (Mexican premiere)
    Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra. Conductor, Roberto Beltrán Zavala.
    Daniel Rowland, violin.
    20:30 hrs, State Auditorium, Guanajuato, Mexico
  • 07 February 2020
    Mask
    Manson Ensemble conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth
    Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London, United Kingdom
  • 20 February 2020
    Transit
    Małgorzata Walentynowicz, piano
    TonArt Festival, Esslingen, Germany

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  • tomorrow (Sunday) the brilliant Nieuw Amsterdams Peil will perform two of my works at November Music (For the Time Being, and Transit).
They even play them twice, 13.30 and 14.30 hrs at Babel in Den Bosch. See you there?
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https://www.novembermusic.net/programma/michel-van-der-aa-nap tomorrow (Sunday) the brilliant Nieuw Amsterdams Peil will perform two of my works at November Music (For the Time Being, and Transit). They even play them twice, 13.30 and 14.30 hrs at Babel in Den Bosch. See you there? - https://www.novembermusic.net/programma/michel-van-der-aa-nap

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Latest update 11 November 2019