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Louis Andriessen in America: Mysteriën and Theatre of the World

(August 2015)

One of the most celebrated Dutch composers sees world and regional premieres this coming season in the US.

Louis Andriessen’s works have been program staples in American concert halls and other performing spaces for decades. Last year, Washington D.C. celebrated Andriessen in a big way with a week-long festival entitled Andriessen 75, a musical retrospective for his 75th birthday. Multiple US and regional premieres outlined a packed schedule that included performances of his Grawmeyer Award-winning opera La Commedia, as well as La Girò, Life, and many other works. In April 2014, the Los Angeles Philharmonic featured Andriessen in its popular Minimalist Jukebox series with the US West Coast premiere of De Materie.

This year, the LA Phil continues its strong relationship with the music of Louis Andriessen as it gives the US premiere of Mysteriën 15–18 October at Walt Disney Concert Hall, featuring the LA Phil with Gustavo Dudamel.

Mysteriën (or Mysteries) is an orchestral work based on the devotional writings of Thomas a Kempis; specifically, The Imitation of Christ. Andriessen recently commented on Mysteriën ahead of its premiere in November 2013: "For me, philosophy, mysticism or theatre are all things that stimulate creativity and merge to become rather close—whether their manifestations be Hamlet, Medea or the conception of God," he says. "So the ideas in Thomas a Kempis’s book can sit happily alongside not only St Augustine, but also secular writers I’ve drawn upon such as Plato and Lao Tse. I see the six sections of Mysteriën as a sequence of similarly-proportioned frescoes, in a religious setting but depicting worldly scenes even to the point of the painter including the guys who built the church and commissioned the art."

The work was commissioned for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of both the Royal Concertgebouw and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Read reviews from the world premiere of Mysteriën here.

Click here to read the full interview with Boosey & Hawkes about Mysteriën.

Next season, the LA Phil will also give the world premiere of Andriessen’s newest opera, Theatre of the World. The work is inspired by the German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680), who was seen as the last true Renaissance man: Egyptologist, Sinologist, mathematician, physicist, volcanologist, music theoretician, and a composer. One of the tasks of the Jesuits was to seek God’s presence in everything, the results being shown visually in a ‘theatre of the world’. In Andriessen’s opera, Kircher travels through time and space with a twelve-year-old boy, recapturing the memories of a lifetime of learning and experience.

Theatre of the World
, incorporating video by the Quay Brothers, will be directed by Pierre Audi and will feature Reinbert de Leeuw conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Performances take place 6–8 May, 2016. Click here to see the concert listing. Theatre of the World was jointly commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Dutch National Opera. Performances follow in Amsterdam in June 2016.


> Further information on Work: Mysteriën

Photo: Francesca Patella

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