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When I was thirteen or so I dreamed a wonderful piece of music. An instrumental piece with an incredible groove and sound. In my dream I had made that music.
I never knew the exact notes. I now only vaguely remember the movement and the colors. In fact, from that dream onward, my entire life I’ve been busy reaching to reproduce that music. Or something that is very close.
Not for granted
Hunting for that music was not always easy. I came from a family in which music was taken for granted. As a little boy I wanted to play guitar. However the (Christian) music shop recommended an electronic organ and weekly organ lessons.
I wrote my first musical drafts on those little organs. I kept doing that, even though at the end of high school I thought music was not a serious option.
I went to do something else - a Sociology study – for just a couple of years. Then there came a series of years in which I played in bands and wrote music for theater now and then, but not much had come of it yet.
At 27 I started composition studies at the conservatory. For six years I immersed myself in music history, music theory, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, instrumentation, piano lessons, and modern compositional techniques. I took jobs in pubs and restaurants to earn some money.
At the end of those six years (in 1996) I had no idea how to compose anymore. Better said, I didn’t know what to compose. I did not know what to add to 2000 years of music history.
The turning point came after a couple of years, with a commission for songs and music for a sort of Christmas – Dickens musical. I found myself back in tonal music, in pop music grooves. There I rediscovered my musical roots, my own signature. I started combining the pop music from my youth with all kinds of composition techniques I had learned.
At the beginning, it was a slow process. I continued to find composition so difficult that I only wrote when someone commissioned me. The Piano Concerto, Rose Road, the requiem The Flood, and the opera Kabaal were all written in those years.
The music itself was picked up more and more, which felt awesome. I wrote the music for Wiek from theater-performer Boukje Schweigman, I made House of Mirrors with an Italian ensemble, Cloud Atlas with David Mitchel, I worked in New York with choreographer Claudia Schreier, in Moscow with the Moscow Comtemporary Music Ensemble, in Brussels with the Origami Piano Ensemble. And that's just a small part of all the projects I've done. Often I doubt myself, but when I look back, I'm secretly quite proud of what I've done and wrote!
Gradually I became also more productive; my pen became fluid. More and more, I began to compose ‘free’ works, building my own musical universe. Two years ago I took the final step. I said goodbye as the director of a concert hall.
I finally became a full time composer. Still hunting for the music from that dream long ago!