Michel van der Aa


September 2020

World premiere "Shades of Red"

Ensemble MusikFabrik

In the coming week three of Van der Aa’s works will be performed in Germany:

Shades of Red, a new piece for ensemble and soundtrack, will have its world premiere on Monday 21 September at the Philharmonie in Cologne. Performed by Ensemble MusikFabrik and conducted by Johannes Fischer. “Shades of Red” is commissioned by the Kölner Philharmonie, London Sinfonietta, and ASKO|Schönberg. The Dutch and UK premieres will be scheduled later this season.
-> koelner-philharmonie.de

On Tuesday 22 September the Ensemble Modern Academy will perform Mask at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts (HfMDK).
-> Internationale-em-akademie.de

Friday 25 September the VR Installation Eight will have its German premiere at the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen. The installation will be presented until 11 October and feature Kate Miller-Heidke and The Netherlands Chamber Choir.
-> Kunstfestspiele.de

January 2020

New album ‘Time Falling’

Time falling

Michel van der Aa releases debut indie-pop album featuring Kate Miller-Heidke ‘Time Falling’: A kaleidoscopic concept album centred around the theme of infinity.
Available now on all platforms, with limited edition high definition vinyl double LP and CD also be available through Disquiet Media and Bandcamp. (Order – listen)

For the first time Michel focuses entirely on an indie/alt-pop electronic album involving the masterfully talented and versatile Australian singer song-writer Kate Miller-Heidke. Kate Miller-Heidke voice has been described by US singer-songwriter Ben Folds as “one of the best in the world”, she is a long-time collaborator of Michel van der Aa. Although classically trained, Kate followed a career in alternative pop music and is the only person to have sung at Coachella, the New York Metropolitan Opera and Eurovision representing Australia in 2019.

This album is Michel’s debut indie-pop album, but this is not his first foray beyond classical music, having previously collaborated with Portuguese fado singer Ana Moura, and pop act These New Puritans. The album is produced and mixed by Michel and Thijs de Vlieger (of Dutch DnB act Noisia).

Michel’s trademark sound design of analogue synths, guitars, hypnotic rhythms, and dense tonal atmosphere combine with Kate Miller-Heidke’s powerful distinctive voice to create an album beyond genre with touches of experimental electronic, indie, a cappella choir (Netherlands Chamber Choir) and pop influence.

The album theme explores “Infinity”, in regard to ‘time’, and ‘space’; inspired by the writing of Jorge Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Federico García Lorca, Emily Dickinson and scientific discovery

The first single ‘The Aleph’ was released on 17th January. ‘The Aleph’ considers a universe where all places in the world exist simultaneously as explored in the fantastical stories of Jorge Luis Borges, with mesmerising allusions to mazes and mirrors.

You can order “Time Falling”, high quality (180gr, 45rpm) double LP, or CD here: timefalling.com

October 2019

Italian and Czech premieres for ‘Hysteresis’

Marelli_Michele_200Michele Marelli

Hysteresis, which receives its Chinese premiere on 25 October, will have its Italian premiere at the Venice Biennale earlier in the same month.

Michel van der Aa’s 2013 clarinet concerto will be performed by Michele Marelli, with contemporary music specialists the Orchestra della Toscana, conducted by Peter Rundel.

‘Hysteresis’ – “a thrilling display piece” (Guardian) – is Van der Aa’s first major work for clarinet, and is inspired by the idea that non-living things can carry ‘memories’ of their previous states. Combining live instruments with recordings and electronics, the pieces asks: can music behave similarly? And what is the nature of musical memory anyway?

After Italy and China, the Czech premiere of ‘Hysteresis’ is also forthcoming, on 11 November, when Renata Raková will play with the BERG orchestra and the conductor Peter Vrábel at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.

October 2019

Van der Aa in Beijing

Eight 200Still from Eight

This year’s Beijing Music Festival, which takes place throughout October, will feature Michel van der Aa as its artist in focus.

Central to this focus will be the virtual reality installation Eight, which will be installed for more than two weeks, between the 10th and 27th October. Created with the designer Theun Mosk and virtual reality company The Virtual Dutch Men, ‘Eight’ is a unique fusion of music, theatre VR and visual art, in which audience members wear VR headsets to walk through and manipulate an installation of physical and virtual objects. As they do so, they piece together the story of a woman whose memories are spread across the walls.

The music that plays throughout the installation has been written by Van der Aa and is performed by Kate Miller-Heidke (who also appeared in Sunken Garden and The Book of Sand) and the Nederlands Kamerkoor (who also sang for ‘The Book of Sand’).

Mischa Spel in NRC describes the experience of ‘Eight’ as “like entering an unprecedented dream world” and called it “an important and pioneering work”. The New York Times (Joshua Barone) described ‘Eight’ as “a breakthrough for virtual reality in classical music”, while Parool (Erik Voermans) called it an “innovative tour de force”. As Spel advises: “You have to experience “Eight” because this mix of music theatre and VR is unprecedented and offers a glimpse into the genre’s endless future possibilities.”

MCO 390
Beijing will also see the Chinese premiere of Van der Aa’s clarinet concerto Hysteresis on 25 October. This performance will feature the soloist Jaan Bossier with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Vicente Alberola. Van der Aa will also give a lecture on music and technology as part of the festival.

‘Eight’ is a co-commission of Holland Festival, Festival Aix-en-Provence, Beijing Music Festival, KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen and the Helsinki Festival. In 2020 it will be performed at the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen in Hanover between 15 May and 12 June, and at the Helsinki Festival from 13 to 30 August. A full list of dates, tickets and more information can be found at eightvr.net.


Michel van der Aa (Netherlands, 1970) 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.

upcoming performances

  • 05 November 2020
    Transit (Korean premiere)
    Sooyoen Lim, piano
    PAN Music Festival, Seoul, South Korea
  • 04 February 2021
    Premiere of version for ensemble
    Insomnio, cond. Ulrich Pöll
    Mieko Kanno, viool. Charles Watt, cello
    Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 26 February 2021
    Shelter (German premiere)
    NDR Chor, Klaas Stok conductor
    20.00 hrs, Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany


recent video

Eight - teaser

eightvirtual reality installation ft. Kate Miller-Heidke
1:22 min.

recent audio


Editors Jonathan Reeder, Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Web-design Studio Lonne Wennekendonk
Realisation Martijn ten Napel & Kyver
Latest update 25 September 2020