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30 December 2021

End-of-year recommendations

Dear friends,

What better way to use these last days of the year than to look back and think about the highlights of 2021? In this blog post I’d like to share with you my favourite books, series, music and software of the past year. But first I’d like to acknowledge the obvious: this has been a very challenging year for the cultural sector, with more lockdowns and cancellations. I am therefore grateful that, despite being in lockdown, Dutch National Opera gave us the opportunity to rehearse and create my opera Upload in the first months of the year. It was so inspiring to finally be able to work again, and meet with a great artistic and technical team on a daily basis. We got to premiere the opera over the summer at the Bregenz Festival, and performed the Dutch premiere at Dutch National Opera in October. I’m thrilled by the wonderful critical and audience reception (reviews are here).

I hope my fellow artists and performers will be allowed the opportunity to work and perform again in 2022.

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Featured works


Film opera (2019-2020)


Virtual reality installation (2018-2019)

Violin Concerto

for solo violin and orchestra (2014)

Blank Out

chamber opera (2015-2016)


for solo cello, string ensemble and film (2010)


for solo clarinet, ensemble and soundtrack (2013)

Michel van der Aa is a truly multidisciplinary figure in contemporary music. A unique voice, he combines composition with film and stage direction, and script writing. Classical instruments, voices, electronic sound, actors, theatre and video are all seamless extensions of his musical vocabulary.

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16 February 2022


Premiere of ensemble version
Insomnio, conducted by Ulrich Pöhl
Mieko Kanno violin, Charles Watt, cello

TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands
17 February 2022


Ensemble version
Insomnio, conducted by Ulrich Pöhl
Mieko Kanno violin, Charles Watt, cello

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, Netherlands
8 March 2022

Violin Concerto (Japanese premiere)

Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kazuki Yamada. Simone Lamsma, violin

Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan

All performances