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'The Gaudeamus Award has opened many doors. It kick-started my international career and came at exactly the right moment. It was an honour and it gave me wings.'

Michel van der Aa

The multidisciplinary and versatile composer Michel van der Aa won the Gaudeamus Award in 1999, at the start of his career. He was the first Dutch music pioneer since 1970 to win the Award.

Van der Aa studied composition at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with Louis Andriessen. In 1999, he won the Gaudeamus Award with his percussion piece Between.

Henk Heuvelmans presents the Gaudeamus Award to Michel van der Aa in 1999

Henk Heuvelmans presents the Gaudeamus Award to Michel van der Aa in 1999

In 2002, in addition to being a composer, Van der Aa graduated in film directing from the New York Film Academy. Since then, he has been combining music, staging and film, always innovating and rethinking the shape that a concert can take.

After winning the Award, Van der Aa created the groundbreaking chamber opera One under the auspices of Gaudeamus, in which he combined live performance and video. The production was a model for the successes he has achieved all over the world since then.

The relationship between Gaudeamus en Van der Aa remained close. In 2016, Van der Aa’s piece Up-Close was performed by Amsterdam Sinfonietta during the opening concert of the festival.

And in 2020, his piece Wake was performed by Joey Marijs of Asko|Schönberg during the opening concert of the hybrid online and offline festival. A percussion piece, just like Between: Gaudeamus and Van der Aa have come full circle.

Photo © Sarah Wijzenbeek