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In an elegant touch, a great composing prize goes Dutch

Michel van der Aa is the worthy winner of the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for his multimedia cello concerto, Up-Close. Michel, 42, is one of the most thoughtful and inventive creators of his generation. He has an opera coming up this season at English National Opera.

The Grawemeyer, at $100,000, used to be the biggest pay day a composer could hope for. Its value has declined a bit, but the prestige is still high. The winner gets chosen by a small jury which includes the past year’s winner. Michel was voted for by Esa-Pekka Salonen who was, in turn, chosen by Michel’s sometime teacher, Louis Andriessen.

Here’s last night’s anouncement.

B&H publicity photo (c) Marco Borggreve

And here’s a trailer for the work:

Up-close | trailer from Michel van der Aa on Vimeo.

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  1. Good for him! I saw this particular work live, and I’m sorry to say that I thought it was rather gimmicky. It certainly does not deserve the Grawemeyer Award. Strip away the multimedia set-up and all we are left with is an average piece of competent music. Nothing more.

    • “Strip away the multimedia set-up and all we are left with…” with respect, I think this really misses the point. Strip away the violin from your favourite string quartet and all you are left with is a poor piece of incompetent music.

  2. Marc Satterwhite says:

    Not sure where you got the idea that the Award winner is chosen by the previous one, but that is not the case. There is a process of three stages, involving a number of judges. The previous winner is invited to be one of the participants in the judging, but does not always choose to do so.

    Marc Satterwhite, Director
    Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition

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