The 2016/17 season is here, and it is already looking like a busy one for Michel van der Aa. Top of the agenda is an international tour of Blank Out. Following successful performances in Amsterdam and Rome – with the press describing the work as ‘impeccable and enthralling’, and ‘wonderfully fluent and effective’ – Van der Aa’s 3D chamber opera will be performed in China, Finland, Germany and Switzerland.
Taking the life and work of the South African poet Ingrid Jonker as its basis, ‘Blank Out’ tells the story of a son coming to terms with the drowning of his mother at a young age. A sensitive and innovatively constructed meditation on memory and loss, the opera uses 3D film, interactive projections, and live and electronic music to consider how people reconstruct and deal with traumatic life events.
On 20 and 21 October, the opera will be a highlight at the Beijing Music Festival. These performances – the first in China for a stage work by Van der Aa – will be followed by three more at the Musica Nova Festival in Helsinki, on 4, 6, and 8 February 2017. The opera will receive its German premiere in spring 2017, details will be announced in January. Finally, ‘Blank Out’ will be featured at the Lucerne Summer Festival in August 2017. The performances in Beijing and Helsinki will feature soprano Katherine Manley as the on-stage soloist, while Miah Persson, who created the role, will appear in Lucerne. Roderick Williams and the Nederlandse Kamerkoor are once again the performers on film and soundtrack.
Featured composer at Musica Nova and Lucerne festivals
Michel van der Aa will be the featured composer at two festivals this season, both of them including performances of Blank Out.
In February, Van der Aa will be the featured composer at Helsinki’s Musica Nova festival. As well as three performances of ‘Blank Out’, on 4, 6 and 8 February, the festival includes Spaces of Blank, performed by Nora Fischer (mezzo-soprano), the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and André de Ridder (conductor); and the clarinet concerto Hysteresis, performed by Kari Kriikuu (clarinet), the Tapiola Sinfonietta and Mario Venzago (conductor).
Later in the year, Van der Aa also be the featured composer at the Summer Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. Blank Out is among the works scheduled to be performed, and the opera will open the four-week-long festival on 12 August. The festival programme will also include the Swiss premieres of Hysteresis, The Book of Disquiet and Up-close ; more details will be announced later in the season.
New piece for orchestra and dance
Work is in progress on a new piece for orchestra and dance, for the German Bundesjugendorchester, conducted by Alexander Shelley, and in collaboration with the Bundesjugendballett, choreographed by Andrey Kaydanowsky. The new work will receive its premiere on 13 January at the Staatsoper, Hamburg, before going on tour to seven cities around Germany, including Essen (14 January), Berlin (16 January) and Dresden (18 January).
And there’s more …
Other highlights this season include a performance by the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer, of Second Self for orchestra and soundtrack, on 5 February at the Mendelssohn-Saal in Düsseldorf. And on 5 October 2017 Hysteresis will receive its Swedish premiere, with soloist Kari Kriikuu and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.