Michel van der Aa


Dutch composer and director Michel van der Aa (1970) is a multidisciplinary artist who combines composing music with directing film and theatre and writing screenplays. In musical theatre productions such as the monodrama One and the operas After Life, The Book of Disquiet and Blank Out he combines acoustic and electronic sounds with vocals, theatre performance and video into a richly-interwoven multimedia tapestry. 

Van der Aa studied composition with Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. He also studied film direction at the New York Film Academy and the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. His music is performed all over the world by the most prestigious ensembles and orchestras. He has also worked with famous soloists such as Sol Gabetta, Barbara Hannigan, Janine Jansen, Christianne Stotijn and Roderick Williams, as well as pop singers Kate Miller-Heidke, Wende Snijders and the Portoguese fado singer Ana Moura. As a composer, he has headlined the Totally Huge New Music Festival in Perth, Australia and the Holland Festival, among others. 

Van der Aa has received multiple awards for his work, including the Gaudeamus International Composers Award, the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, the 2013 Mauricio Kagel Music Prize and, in 2015, the prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award. His multimedia pieces, including his operas and the concertos Up-close and Transit, have been the subject of great critical acclaim. Since 2011 he has been one of the ‘house composers’ of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which in 2014 performed the world premiere of his Violin Concerto for Janine Jansen. In 2013, Van der Aa’s film opera Sunken Garden formed part of the programme at the Holland Festival. He is currently working on a new double concerto for Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta, to be premiered in May in both Cologne and Amsterdam by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.