The layers of water

At the Goldoni van der Aa signs a new commission for the Biennale Musica
by Andrea Oddone Martin

Among the most anticipated appointments of this Biennale Musica we find The Book of Water, a commission that the Biennale has entrusted to the Dutch composer Michel van der Aa and which will be staged on 19 September at the Goldoni Theater. A work focused on the phenomenon of water erosion of territories around the world, which finds in Venice a natural habitat for its staging. Let’s discover the composer and his poetics.

Combining images, sound sampling, prose, traditional instruments, and electronic music
I often write these multiple layers at the same time – musical score, stage directions, and also the visual context of the performance. By doing this, I can determine which of these layers is prominent and is most important.

The ideal listener.
It must be a very open-minded audience. My usual audience is not necessarily a hardcore new music audience, but also an audience that goes to see theatre or art films, which makes for a really interesting blend.

Differences between a composer, a librettist, and a director.
They all deal with time, so when I compile a text or write a text, it must form this arc in time, and the same is true about the music and film as well.

The ideal interpreter.
When I write a solo concerto, I often write for performers themselves and not as much with the instrument in mind. Take, for example, my Violin Concerto for Janine Jansen. I was very inspired with her as a performer and if she happened to play a recorder, I would have written a recorder concerto. I think that’s the most inspiring thing for me: I need a muse to write for solo instruments. My string quartet piece The Book of Water, has performers not only play the music but also form an integral part of its staging.


Ph. Sarah Wijzenbeek

Director Lucia Ronchetti introduces us to the upcoming Biennale Musica