A N N E L I E S V A N P A R Y S
B I O G R A P H Y
"…the perception is of a work that extraordinarily pervades all the senses, where you have the impression that, tonally, the ground is pulled from under your feet…" Drifting Sand; Badische Zeitung
"This performance again reflects the big talent of Annelies Van Parys who, as few other composers in Flanders, masters the art of limitation and has no fear for beauty and seduction." An Index Of Memories; De Morgen
Listen to ‘Meditation’ (2005) by Annelies van Parys and you will hear a distant bell sound in the opening bars hidden behind woodwinds and horns echoing a profoundly personal and human sound. In this work, she takes her first steps towards spectralism. This is a musical voice learnt from her teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent, Luc Brewaeys. Other important sources of inspiration for her musical voice and whom she met during her further studies are: Jonathan Harvey, Thierry De Mey, Luca Francesconi, Judith Weir ...
For Van Parys it is not so much the exploration of sound 'as such' that is important, although it obviously plays a role, but rather the sensation that creates the sound effects. Therein lies a fundamental difference: a shift from object to subject. The sensation of her scores is the result of an empirical process, based on meticulous observations of acoustic phenomena. There are the almost mathematical structures, the strict structures in which all aspects (from great shape to the smallest detail) meet the same proportions. She is always looking for a unit within micro- and macro- structures - within which she does not shun the traditional forms, instead embracing these in an unique musical voice.
In a sense, Van Parys’s two symphonies are the soundboard for this compositional quest. Her first symphony ‘Carillon’ (2006), premiered by the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Sian Edwards, is based on the tonal spectrum of the Ghent Belfry. The second symphony ‘Les Ponts’ (2008) hangs more with the traditional symphonic form; it was premiered by the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen with Otto Tausk. In 2012, this symphony opened the ISCM World Music Days in Brussels with Brussels Philharmonic.
In 2006, Annelies was a guest for the first time at the World Music Days with her chamber work ‘Phrases V’ (2001): the piece, that winning the Flandres-Quebec prize, swept her to victory a few years earlier. Her chamber works have been much loved by many musicians ever since. Most Belgian ensembles regularly perform her work, and increasingly her music is also becoming a regular feature in the concert programmes of foreign ensembles. The New York New Music Ensemble premiered ‘Fragrances’ (2008) in Leuven and is now in their NY repertory; ‘Drifting Sand’ (2011) was premiered by Ensemble Recherche and is now regularly on its programmes, as are other works with ensembles such as Asko|Schoenberg and VocaalLAB Netherlands.
In addition to chamber music and orchestral works Annelies shows a special talent for composing for voice. This is reflected in the voice solo ‘Poïèma’ (2006), with Els Mondelaers performing this solo successfully in Amsterdam, Rome, Antwerp and next in 2014 at the Musikfestspiele Sanssouci. ‘Ruhe’ (2007), commissioned by Collegium Vocale Ghent, for the music-theatre work that bears the same name, and performed globally by them more than a hundred times, is perhaps her most successful vocal work to date - Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman wrote: "... until the end, when Schubert's rhythms give way to a magnificently deconstructed, questioning coda by contemporary Flemish composer Annelies Van Parys."
‘Ruhe’ was Annelies’s first step toward the world of music-theatre. Once the interest in writing for the stage was aroused, she has focussed much on this field with opera, music theatre and installation works, with the drama of these complementing her chamber and orchestral writing. Notably works to date are: ‘An Index of Memories’ (2009), ‘Parcours’ (2011), and, ‘An Oresteia’ (2010).
‘An Oresteia’, in which her writing complements the monolithic musical work of Iannis Xenakis, is a particularly significant work in her catalogue, representing a big step outside her comfort zone - if only because she pitches her musical idiom perfectly alongside that of the Xenakis, akin to a translucent crystal alongside a perfect granite sculpture. Annelies fills the breaches in the archaic walls with the part of the story not told by Xenakis: in a prologue, epilogue and two music theatrical monologues Annelies digs her way to the intensely personal, to the deeply human dimension and the drama that is Clytemnestra. ‘An Oresteia’ was nominated in 2010 for de Ovatie Awards (best performance of the year) in the Netherlands, and Annelies’s part of the drama has since been taken successfully by Akso|Schoenberg to the concert stage, opening the 2013 Gaudeamus Muziekweek.
In 2012, Annelies Van Parys was asked by Muziektheater Transparant, with whom she has had a close collaboration for many years, to arrange an abridged version of Pelléas et Mélisande by Debussy for ensemble Oxalys. This was an instant hit and internationally acclaimed - Tom Janssens, De Standaard: "Her arrangement, with a glorious role for the harmonium, is a miracle."
Currently, Annelies is working on the next stage of her musical story. She is preparing a full-length opera for Muziektheater Transparent in co-production with a range of partners (inc. Flemish Opera, deSingel, Operadagen Rotterdam, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Bergen Nasjonale Opera). The premiere is scheduled for the OperaXXI Festival 2015 of De Vlaamse Opera with the Neue Vocalsolisten of Stuttgart in the lead role, accompanied by Asko|Schoenberg, conducted by Etienne Siebens. The libretto is by Scottish poet Jen Hadfield, winner of the T S Eliot, staging by the Dutch video collective 33 1/3 and directed by Tom Creed.
Besides this project, Annelies is currently working on several new commissions for orchestra, including those for the National Orchestra of Belgium and the deFilharmonie / Royal Flemish Philharmonic.
Annelies Van Parys has won many awards for her work, such as Flandres-Québec, Jeunesses Musicales, Tactus, and Frere Darche. She is on the juries for the international competitions of Tactus (Belgium), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Nederlands), 2Agosto (Italy) and the Kyoto Prize of the Inamori Foundation (Japan). Annelies is a Laureate of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Arts and Science and, from 2014, she will be a member of this prestigious institution.
Since 2008, Annelies Van Parys teaches orchestration, analysis and composition at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. She is also Honorary Ambassador of the Royal Conservatory of Ghent.
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Date: Dec 2013