Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht canal on the 18 August in 2012 saw the first performance of a new vocal work by Michel van der Aa. A setting of a poem by the British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, And how are we today? is a commission for the Amsterdam Prinsengrachtconcert.
The Prinsengrachtconcert is a famous event with a long tradition in Amsterdam, and yet this will be the first it has featured a new composition. The finale of the annual Grachtenfestival (canal festival) of classical music, the concert is staged on a floating platform in the middle of the canal. An audience of thousands watch from the banks and bridges, or bring their boats up to the stage itself. The concert is also broadcast live on TV and radio, and is the most watched classical music broadcast on Dutch TV.
Written for the mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, double bass player Rick Stotijn and pianist Joseph Breinl, Van der Aa describes And how are we today? as “a high energy, jazzy work with a theatrical layer and a virtuoso double bass part”, appropriate to its festive setting.
And how are we today? is the second part of the For the time being song cycle.