#127– December 27, 2021
Rotterdam 1945 by Dutch composer, arranger and conductor Johan de Meij is our Composition of the Week.
Rotterdam 1945 was written at the request of Maestro Arjan Tien, the chief conductor of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, to commemorate their 75th anniversary in 2020. 1945 also marked the end of World War II, the year that Johan de Meij’s home country was liberated from Nazi Germany. Johan’s father was born in Rotterdam in 1910, so he has a special bond with this dynamic city. De Meij uses the numbers 1-9-4-5 to create the main theme and translates it into a four-note motif: C – D’ – F – G.
The premiere performance of the work took place on October 10, 2021, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, by the Dutch Marine Band under Jurjen Hempel.
Rotterdam 1945 has a duration of about 8 minutes and it is scored for standard wind orchestra, including double bass, harp, piano as well as 5 percussion parts. It is available at Hal Leonard.
Johan de Meij studied trombone and conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague. His catalogue consists of original compositions, symphonic transcriptions and arrangements of film scores and musicals.
His Symphony No. 1, Lord of the Rings, based on Tolkien’s novels of the same name, was his first substantial composition for symphonic band and received the Sudler Composition Award in 1989. In 2001, the orchestral version was premiered by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The Lord of the Rings was recorded over twenty times, performed by orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. His other larger compositions include Symphony No. 2, The Big Apple, T-Bone Concerto (trombone concerto), UFO Concerto (euphonium) and Casanova (cello concerto). Casanova was awarded the First Prize at the International Composition Competition of Corciano, Italy in 1999, and a year later, he received the Oman International Composition Prize with The Red Tower.
Besides composing, Johan de Meij is active in various musical fields. He is a trombonist with the orchestra “De Volharding” (The Perseverance), and as a regular substitute with various other ensembles and orchestras. He is also a guest conductor and clinician: he has conducted concerts and led seminars in almost all European countries, in Japan, Singapore, Brazil, and the United States. In 2010, he was appointed as regular guest conductor of the renowned Simon Bolivar Youth Wind Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela. He became the principal guest conductor of the New York Wind Symphony and the Kyushu Wind Orchestra in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2014.
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