Composer Pete Harden wins the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize 2023

31 May 2023
Pete Harden | Photo: © Tessa Veldhorst
Pete Harden | Photo: © Tessa Veldhorst

On Saturday June 17th, the Day of the Composer, Pete Harden will receive the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize for his composition 'M.M.'. The prize-winning work sees Harden combine live music, vocals and spoken word with film fragments from the present and past. Viktorien van Hulst, director of the Performing Arts Fund NL, will present him with the award during the festival programme at Museum Arnhem.
'M.M.' is based on a text by French writer and director Pauline Peyrade (libretto and narration). The jury selected the composition out of a total of 80 submissions. According to the jury, it is "a Gesamtkunstwerk in which different art forms merge and interact brilliantly." The award ceremony in Arnhem includes a screening of a film adaptation of ‘M.M.’, created in collaboration with Asko|Schönberg.

The jury on 'M.M.'
The jury describes 'M.M.' as a "breathtaking labyrinth of suggestions revolving around the theme of Marilyn Monroe, shaped with music, images, vocals and spoken word." Despite its references to the '50s, the jury notes that Pete Harden has created a contemporary work that pushes boundaries and makes a remarkable contribution to the development of contemporary music. "The work is also relevant in the way it holds up a mirror to how we interact with each other and the masks we wear in the process. In this work, Pete Harden demonstrates a highly personal writing style. The way he keeps the limited musical material alive until the end of the work commands great admiration."

Composer Pete Harden
Pete Harden is a British-Dutch composer, guitarist and artistic director of Ensemble Klang. He studied with Louis Andriessen and Richard Ayres and has previously performed at the National Theatre in London. His work was also performed by the music group Bang on a Can All-Stars (New York).

Commenting on his work, the jury says: "Pete Harden knows how to emotionally stimulate the listener in a subtle way. The music directly appeals to the listener, partly due to the combination of elements from different music genres. As a result, the work is also accessible to a wider audience than the usual lover and connoisseur of contemporary music."

The Matthijs Vermeulen Prize
The Matthijs Vermeulen Prize is the most important Dutch composition prize and is named after the symphonic composer Matthijs Vermeulen, who passed away in 1967. Every two years, the Performing Arts Fund NL awards the prize to a Dutch composer who, in the opinion of an independent jury, has composed a remarkable work in the field of contemporary music. The winner receives a cash prize of 20,000 euros.

Previous winners of the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize include Calliope Tsoupaki ('Thin Air'), Aart Strootman ('Shambling Emergence'), Kate Moore ('The Dam') and Peter Adriaansz ('Scala II').

The jury
The jury of the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize 2023 consists of Dorien van de Pas (chair), Henk Heuvelmans, Nora Fischer, Monica Akihary, Marlon Titre, Simone Meijer and Tamar Brüggeman.

The Day of the Composer
The Day of the Composer (Dag van de Componist) is an initiative of the network and platform New Music NOW. For the festival’s second edition on June 17, more than 100 composers active in the Netherlands will take centre stage as part of various concerts and performances in more than 12 cities. Winner Pete Harden will travel aboard a special music train, with live performances along the Amersfoort-Arnhem route.
Credit: © Vika Strawberrika via Unsplash
Credit: © Vika Strawberrika via Unsplash

The Performing Arts Fund NL is closed between December 25th 2023 and January 1st 2024. We reopen on January 2nd 2024. See you in the new year!

Pete Harden | Photo: © Tessa Veldhorst
Pete Harden | Photo: © Tessa Veldhorst
FuturoPresente | Credit: © Xaviera Altena
FuturoPresente | Credit: © Xaviera Altena
Guy Coolen | Photo: © Marcel Lennartz
Guy Coolen | Photo: © Marcel Lennartz