My works have been performed throughout the world and commissioned and performed by major orchestras and ensembles, such as the Residentie Orchestra The Hague, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Holland Sinfonia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Meridian Arts Ensemble New York. Reinbert de Leeuw, David Porcelijn, Etienne Siebens, Lucas Vis and Jac van Steen, among others, have conducted my works.
I was born in Margaret River, WA, but mostly educated in the Netherlands, where I started art school in 1974. A few immature compositions date from those years. I also played guitars and drums in several New Wave bands. I started composition studies with David Porcelijn at the Utrecht Conservatorium of Music in 1986 and continued my studies with Claas de Vries at the Rotterdam Conservatorium of Music. I minored in cello, double bass and piano. Since 2005 I have been living in Sydney.
Writing for a larger group of instruments has always had my preference. I like the fact that an orchestra can function as a dynamic and powerful machine, able to make tremendous noise, comparable to the physical experience of amplified pop music and be totally hectic in having many things going on at once. This in spite of the fact that nowadays most orchestras mainly fulfil the role of a historical museum and accordingly perform ‘prestigious’ works from the past, generally written by composers long dead.
In the late 90’s I started using techniques that regenerate existing material. I started weaving with ‘borrowed’ miniature sound fragments of 2 seconds or less. It resulted in dense and hectic pieces that are deliberately over-scored (Alchemia I, Time and Again). The orchestra is treated like a flock of birds or a shoal of fish. The music trips over itself, deranges and proceeds like a tidal wave. All works written since 1998 have been more or less influenced by these ideas.
Since 2000 my works tend to incorporate other art disciplines, either by collaborating with other artists, or by including theatrical or visual elements.
In 2016 I wrote a piece for soprano, violin, cello and orchestra called If (scheduled with one of the BBC orchestras under Jac can Steen) which is written in a much more contemplative style and smoothly flowing compared to my previous compositions. If has become a pivotal piece in my oeuvre in that it breaks with my previous hectic, recalcitrant style and dense scoring. Metamorphosis , written early 2017, has revealed itself as a result of merging both styles of writing, but clearly is a much more aerodynamic piece than anything I have written before If.
I use an array of starting points, techniques and disciplines for my work:
- For several of my works I designed additional instruments and collaborated with other artists. For Black Wind, I designed footslaps, as well as triangles suspended from the performers’ desks and wind chimes that were accelerated by huge wind fans on either side of the stage. Black Wind was a collaboration with artist Susan Norrie.
- Particles for chamber orchestra, written early 2011, was initiated by quantum particle behaviour.
- Syllables to Attitudes, a work for 2 female voices and orchestra, written in 2012 makes use of broken down language in order to avoid meaning and narrative. The conductor manages a metal bucket with pebbles and claps his way on stage and in many ways musicians and singers are strained to go beyond the conventional performance of music by means of expressing themselves in theatrical ways.
My works are published in the Netherlands by Donemus and in Australia by the Australian Music Centre. Various works are recorded on CD.
- In 1995 Ermita was nominated for the BUMA award. (This is the Dutch royalty association)
- In 1998 Symphony Australia’s score reading panel advised Alchemia I for performance to the ABC orchestras, which resulted to the performance in 2005 by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Reinbert de Leeuw.
- Also in 1998, Entity for flute quartet received a Honourable Mention from the National Flute Association in the USA.
- In 2001 The Residentie Orchestra The Hague, one of Netherlands major orchestras, under Jac van Steen performed Time and Again.
- In November 2005 Amsterdam Sinfonietta premiered Black Wind with soloist Claire Edwardes and multi media artist Susan Norrie in s-Hertogenbosch, Gent, Amsterdam, Groningen and subsequently in 2006 at the Adelaide Festival.
- In May 2006 The Violin was performed at the XXVIII Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva “Manuel Enriquez” in Mexico City and recorded on CD by Aniko Szathmáry in August 2006.
- Sydney Morning Herald 19-07-05: “It seemed he had put the orchestral repertoire of the 20th century into a washing machine and set it to spin. It suffered from overdense scoring but, like the white wash with that red sock left in, was smattered with colour and insight”.
- The Australian 19-07-05: “The translucent textures he created from the orchestra, even in the loudest fortissimos, were truly remarkable”.
- Adelaide Festival review 14-03-06: “….the dense scoring of the work, where fragments, threads of theme seem to emerge, then vanish, re-emrging later, but transformed, then vanish again. The music, containing many of these tiny thematic elements, constantly twists, turns and evolves creating complex aural patterns rather then conventionally structured music…”
- City Messanger 16-03-06: “…an impressive Black Wind [….] gradually shimmering into silence in a memorable performance”.