Arnoud Noordegraaf (NL, 1974) is a composer who doesn't shy away from a strong narrative and an occasional healthy dose of humour in his work. His productions form a class apart within Dutch contemporary music, combining interdisciplinary media in compositions and theatrical forms, resulting in 'a remarkable unity in style and atmosphere' (NRC Handelsblad). Noordegraaf studied composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, with Gilius van Bergeijk, Martijn Padding and Louis Andriessen. Also he studied theatre at the Maastricht theatre school for one year, prior to his composition study.
His musical style focuses on a theatrical interaction between live instruments and their electronic counterparts; a very surrealistic musical vocabulary, in which instruments or voices produce sounds beyond their natural capacities. The musician's struggle with an invisible counterpart complements the theatrical struggle of accepting the world as it is, a recurring theme in Noordegraaf's work.
Visually, Noordegraaf conceives and directs his own films, or in his own words 'composes both in music and in images'. Here also, the music and the film narrative intertwine, creating a universe that is both real and unreal. Often the characters in Noordegraaf's films try to break though the film screen, sensing there is something there: our world, our tangible reality. Once we have accepted their film reality as 'real' this breaking through the film screen raises the question whether our own reality is real or—at least for a brief magical moment, has become a fictional world.
In 2011 his Murakami-inspired Tokyo-film-opera “A.M.” premiered at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam. It has been performed ad hoc ever since throughout Europe. Noordegraaf’s next big music theatre work "UrWald" premiered in october 2013 in Amsterdam. Both A.M. and UrWald received much critical acclaim, marking the relevance of Noordegraaf’s work in contemporary music. In 2015 Arnoud teamed up with writer Adrian Hornsby again, for his new opera As Big as the Sky, created for the Holland Festival in collaboration with the renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The press was both ecstatic and shocked by this opera.
In 2016 Arnoud collaborated with director Boukje Schweigman and percussion group Slagwerk Den Haag on a new work about skin, 'Huid', a piece that again received critical acclaim.
"The ways in which Noordegraaf shifts attention between film and music from fore- to background is in itself one of the attractions of this new work."— Biella Lutmer in Volkskrant about "UrWald"
"As Big as the Sky is an original and convincing combination of film, theatre and opera" — Joep Stapel in NRC Handelsblad
"an arresting duality of sound and image. ... in this piece the pizzicati seemed to trigger the recorded images like snapping brain synapses." — Michael Nagle in The New York Times about "Fugue"
"a poetic show, subtly balancing between stylized film art and modern opera. (...) The music is sparsely instrumented, at no point the composer overplays his hand." — Mark van de Voort in Brabants Dagblad about "A.M."
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Apart from writing an autonomous oeuvre of compositions and music theatre, Noordegraaf has produced films for other composers too, such as "After Life" and "The Book of Disquite" by Michel van der Aa, "La Commedia" by Louis Andriessen and Hal Hartley, and he supervised the large scale "Varèse 360˚" project for the Holland Festival with video artist Gary Hill. Noordegraaf's budget film-production foundation inexcelsisvideo produces video for theatrical projects.
Noordegraaf was a guest teacher at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Theatre Schools of Maastricht and Amsterdam, the Aldeburgh Music Centre in England. He lectures regularly in Holland, England, China, Japan and Colombia.
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