The University of Louisville has announced that Up-close by Dutch composer Michel van der Aa has been awarded the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, a $100,000 cash prize. The 30-minute piece is a multi-media work combining a concerto for cello and variable-sized string ensemble and a synchronized video triggered from a laptop computer.
According to composer Marc Satterwhite, director of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, Up-close is “a virtuoso cello concerto but also a fascinating multimedia experience that defies simple classification. It really creates its own genre.” Up-close is the first instrumental composition with a multi-media component to receive this award, which has been given annually since 1985 and has previously been awarded to compositions by John Adams, John Corigliano, Sebastian Currier, Aaron Jay Kernis, Peter Lieberson, Gyorgi Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Toru Takemitsu, Tan Dun, Joan Tower, and George Tsontakis, among others. Last year’s award was given to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto.
Michel van der Aa (born 1970 in Oss, Netherlands) wrote Up-close for the Argentinian-French cellist Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The work was commissioned by the European Concert Hall Organization, with support from the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Performing Arts Fund. It received its first performance in Stockholm in 2011 with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta directed by Candida Thompson accompanying Gabetta as soloist. Following its premiere, the same performers toured the work to concert halls throughout Europe, visiting such cities as Luxembourg, Brussels, London, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. The label Disquiet Media, founded by van der Aa, released a DVD of the work in performance in 2011. (Video excerpts of Up-close as well as a complete perusal score are available at the website of van der Aa’s publisher, Boosey and Hawkes.)
(–culled from press releases issued by the University of Louisville and Boosey & Hawkes)