Keynote talk: Rebecca Saunders and Michel van der Aa

12 November 2021 | 10:30 - 11:15Grote zaal | livestream

New Music Conference kicks off with two inquisitive minds who will catch up for the first time in sixteen years. They will reflect on composing, sound, art and life itself: Rebecca Saunders, November Music composer-in-focus, and Michel van der Aa, who is present at this year’s festival with his spectacular virtual reality installation Eight. In 2019, Saunders (London, 1967) became the first female composer to win the prestigious Ernst von Siemens music prize, putting her in line with names such as György Ligeti, Wolfgang Rihm and Mauricio Kagel. After the conference, Ensemble Modern will play a number of her larger ensemble works in Willem Twee Toonzaal. Like Rebecca Saunders, Michel van der Aa (Oss, 1970) has built an impressive repertoire that has been performed by notable ensembles worldwide. His sparkling, 15-minute VR-production Eight can be enjoyed – one visitor at the time – in the Matzer room in Verkadefabriek throughout the festival and during the conference. Van der Aa will introduce the work to his audience after the keynote talk.

After the keynote talk Michel van der Aa will give a short introduction about his virtual reality installation Eight. This introduction will be in the Clubzaal from 11:15 – 11:30.

Michel van der Aa (composer contemporary classical music, NL)
He is a truly multidisciplinary figure in contemporary music. A unique voice, he combines composition with film and stage direction, and script writing. Classical instruments, voices, electronic sound, actors, theatre and video are all seamless extensions of his musical vocabulary.

Rebecca Saunders (composer, GB)
Rebecca Saunders is one of the leading international composers of her generation. Her compositions focus on the sculptural and spatial properties of organised sound, often created in close collaborative dialogue with a variety of musicians and artists. Saunders has received numerous prizes, including the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize 2019. She holds a professorship at the HMTM Hannover and is a member of the Academies of Arts in Berlin, Dresden and Munich.

moderator: Maarten Beirens (director, Transit, BE & lecturer musicology, University of Amsterdam, NL)
He studied musicology at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium, where he also received his Ph. D. with a thesis on European minimal music. He held a postdoctoral fellowship of the FWO Flanders at the KU Leuven, conducting research on the music of Steve Reich. His publications include articles and chapters on European minimalism, the music of Steve Reich, Michael Finnissy, Karel Goeyvaerts, Louis Andriessen, Michael Nyman, and analytical strategies for minimal music. In addition to his academic work, he has worked as a music critic for the leading Flemish newspaper De Standaard and several other media from 1997-2014. From 2014 onwards he is the general director of Festival 20•21 in Leuven, which includes the artistic direction of the Transit festival for present-day music.

This panel will also be streamed.

Photo: installation Eight, photo Maarten Beirens by Kevin Gaudeus