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Composer Michel van der Aa receives Grawemeyer award for cello concerto

November 26, 2012

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Dutch composer Michel van der Aa has won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for his multimedia cello concerto Up-close. Worth $100,000, the Grawemeyer is currently the most lucrative award for composition in the world.

In its citation, the Grawemeyer jury praised the 30-minute work as ‘a highly innovative fusion of musical and visual art… a virtuoso concerto but also a fascinating multimedia experience that defies simple classification’.

Van der Aa, 42, composed Up-close for the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and cellist Sol Gabetta, who gave the work its premiere in 2011. As well as writing the music, the composer filmed the video sections that appear on screens behind the players throughout the concerto. An excerpt can be seen here.

This is the second consecutive year in which the Grawemeyer has been awarded to a composer for a string concerto: in 2012 Esa-Pekka Salonen received the prize for his Violin Concerto, premiered by Leila Josefowicz in 2009. Other previous winners have included György Ligeti, Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Adès and Pierre Boulez.

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