Dutch composer Michel van der Aa has been awarded the 2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in recognition of his work Up-close. Worth $100,000, the Grawemeyer is one of the world’s most lucrative accolades for music and one of five categories celebrated through the University awards scheme. Grawemeyer prizes are also granted to individuals working in Education, World Order, Psychology and Religion and may be awarded as often as once a year.
Van der Aa’s Up-close is a 30-minute virtuoso work for cello, blending music and film. The piece was originally composed for cellist Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta through the European Concert Hall Organisation, and premiered in Stockholm in 2011. The accompanying film depicts an elderly woman, who tries to communicate through a mechanical coding device and whose actions become increasingly linked to the music on stage. Van der Aa’s label Disquiet Media released the work on DVD last year - it was Gramophone's DVD of the month in the April 2012 issue.
'It is a huge honour to win the 2013 Grawemeyer Award,' said the composer. 'I am touched to receive such a significant acknowledgement of my work, and feel humbled to be listed alongside so many previous recipients that I greatly admire. I’d like to say thanks from the bottom of my heart to Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson and Vakil Eelman, who were essential for the birth of this piece. I especially want to thank Sol Gabetta, the ultimate protagonist; her passion, virtuosity, and openness were a true source of inspiration.'
Michel van der Aa is house composer for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and a former student of 2011 Grawemeyer Award-winner Louis Andriessen.
Watch a trailer for Van der Aa's Up-close below: