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18 December 2023

End-of-year recommendations

Dear Friends,
As we approach the close of 2023, I find myself looking back on the year’s memorable moments and accomplishments. I’d love to share with you a mix of my professional highlights, alongside my favourite books, series, performances and software of the past year.

First, let me touch upon some professional highlights. My latest music theatre work, The Book of Water, embarked on a successful Asian tour, with performances in Hong Kong and South Korea. The performances starred Samuel West in Hong Kong and Abel de Vries in South Korea and featured Timothy West and Mary Bevan in the film part. Meanwhile, my chamber opera Blank Out concluded its tour across 11 countries with its U.S. West Coast premiere at Cal Performances in Berkeley this spring, followed by a homecoming performance in Amsterdam. The opera is based on the life and work of South African poet Ingrid Jonker and features soprano Miah Persson and baritone Roderick Williams. We’ve also filmed the opera, and are planning to stream the film in 2024.

Looking ahead to 2024, I’m thrilled to announce my upcoming VR opera installation, From Dust, set to premiere in the fall. This project will feature the mesmerising voices of the vocal ensemble Sjaella. I look forward to sharing more details in our next newsletter.

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Featured works

The Book of Water

Chamber music theatre (2021-2022)


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)

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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21 March 2024

The Book of Water (German premiere)

Samuel West, actor. Ensemble Modern. Timothy West, actor (film), Mary Bevan, soprano (film)

Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
10 May 2024


New York Philharmonic, Kwamé Ryan

Lincoln Center (Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall), New York, U.S.A.
2 December 2024

From Dust (world premiere)

Virtual Reality opera installation. Sjaella.
VR-Days / Immersive Tech Week

De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands

All performances