Up-close, Vakil Eelman
This August and September, Michel van der Aa will be composer-in-residence at the Lucerne Summer Festival, one of the world’s most celebrated festivals of classical music. Over the course of a month a large cross-selection of Van der Aa’s works, including music theatre, concertos and chamber music will be performed.
The list of concerts begins on 13 August with performances of two major stage works, both of them receiving their Swiss premieres. In the morning there is the chance to see Van der Aa’s widely acclaimed opera The Book of Disquiet, a cutting-edge integration of music, live action and video constructed from fragments by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa that addresses the subject of multiple personalities. Walter Sigi Arnold will play the solo acting role of Pessoa’s alter-ego Bernardo Soares, while the Ensemble of Lucerne Festival Alumni will be conducted by Duncan Ward.
Shortly afterwards, on the same day, the soprano Miah Persson will give the first Swiss performance of the recent 3D chamber opera Blank Out, which also features baritone Roderick Williams and the Netherlands Chamber Choir on film. Completed in 2016, Blank Out explores a tragic mother–son relationship through the life and poetry of the South African writer Ingrid Jonker. The Lucerne performance ends a successful international tour for a work that this year has also been staged in Rome, Beijing, Helsinki and Hanover.
The 17 August sees another major composition receive its first performance in Switzerland, the Grawemeyer Award-winning concerto for cello and film Up-close. The soloist will be Lucerne Festival Academy graduate Jay Campbell who, along with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, is one of the festival’s two specially invited artistes étoiles, and the youngest to have been chosen in the event’s history.
On 26 August the Ensemble of Lucerne Festival Alumni return once more to perform Hysteresis, a fourth Swiss premiere, with clarinet soloist Martin Adámek and conductor Matthias Pintscher. Van der Aa’s concerto will be paired with those for violin and piano by György Ligeti, played by Kopatchinskaja and David Kadouch, respectively.
Finally, on 7 September, students of the Lucerne University of Music, conducted by Gregor Mayrhofer, will perform three smaller works in an early evening portrait of the composer : Mask, for ensemble and soundtrack; Transit, for piano and video; and And how are we today?, for mezzo-soprano, double bass and piano, with the singer Daniela Argentino.
The festival’s theme is ‘identity’, and works in all four concerts have been chosen with this in mind, whether the fragmented personalities of The Book of Disquiet, the split identities of Up-close, Hysteresis and Mask, or the quest to reconstruct oneself in Blank Out.
In addition to these four concerts, Van der Aa will also give composition masterclasses and seminars between 12 and 26 August, alongside Dieter Ammann and the Artistic Director of the Lucerne Festival Academy, Wolfgang Rihm.