Boosey & Hawkes Composer News

Michel van der Aa: Up-close tours European concert halls

(February 2011)

Michel van der Aa's Up-close combines cellist Sol Gabetta, string orchestra and film for a European tour (11-20 March)

Young Dutch composer Michel van der Aa has made waves with a series of cutting-edge cross-media works, and his newest score has been created for Argentinian-French cellist Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta (director: Candida Thompson). The premiere tour of Up-close, commissioned by the European Concert Halls Organisation (ECHO), travels to six countries in March. The 30-minute work is scored for solo cello, strings and film, and the forces are variable to suit either ensemble or orchestral strings.

Van der Aa’s compositions have often explored the interface between music and film – two media that equally play with time, and the new work is no exception. The live performance of cellist and strings interacts with a mirror reality on film, where an elderly lady is seen as an alter-ego of the soloist. Her memories reach back across 60 years to her childhood and the need to communicate coded messages via a mysterious machine. Sounds from the film escape from the screen and intertwine with the music on the concert platform until the two females are drawn ever closer.

Following the premiere a recording of Up-close will be released on Disquiet Media. Launched last autumn the label offers CDs and downloads of van der Aa’s works including Spaces of Blank with Christianne Stotijn and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Here Trilogy with Claron McFadden. June brings the first DVD video release with One featuring Barbara Hannigan (DQM 03). Visit the webshop at

Van der Aa is 2010/11 composer-in-residence with the Klang new music network in Hamburg and, as an upbeat to the German premiere of Up-close on 20 March, the Elbphilharmonie presents a portrait concert on 19 March including Here (in circles). Forthcoming van der Aa highlights include the German premiere of Book of Disquiet, built from the fragmentary texts of Fernando Pessoa, at the Saarbrücken Staatstheater on 20 May with actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.

The composer’s plans include a new film-opera Zela Law in collaboration with librettist David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas.

Michel van der Aa

Sol Gabetta, cello
Amsterdam Sinfonietta
Candida Thompson, director

11 March (world premiere)
> Konserthus, Stockholm

12 March (Luxembourg premiere)
> Philharmonie, Luxembourg

14 March (Belgian premiere)
> BOZAR, Brussels

16 March (Dutch premiere)
> Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

18 March (UK premiere)
> Barbican, London

20 March (German premiere)
> Kampnagel (K6), Hamburg

> Further information on Work: Up-close

Photo: Still from the film for Up-close with Vakil Eelman © Joost Rietdijk

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