January 2018
The year 2017 saw many international performances of my music all over the world, from New York (where Alan Gilbert conducted my Bernstein homage ‘Boundless’ again, but now with the New York Philharmonic) to Russia (where Dominique Vleeshouwers played my percussion concerto) to Rome, Lille (further performances of ‘Morphic Waves’) and Brussels. But the new year will also see a couple of interesting events. First, there will be the premiere of my new double concerto for two pianos and orchestra at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on March 10 (in the so-called ZaterdagMatinee concert series), the soloists being the super-talented young piano duo Arthur and Lucas Jussen, who will be accompanied by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest conducted by Emilio Pomarico. The 30-minute concerto is called ‘In Unison’, it is cast in three movements (the classic scheme fast-slow-fast), there’s lots of energy in it (with dangerously fast tempi and frequent metre changes) and it treats the two piano soloists not so much as two different characters but rather as one huge super-pianist (which means the two pianists have to play a lot of ‘unisono’ passages, as the title already suggests).
Furthermore, I have started work on a 20-minute piece for an interesting ensemble of 8 celli and 5 female voices, due to be premiered by the Cello Octet Amsterdam and the vocal ensemble Wishful Singing during the Cello Biennale 2018 in October. This is probably going to be a one of my more meditative and serene pieces.


January 2017
Lots of upcoming concerts and performances in February, check the Agenda section.
First, my new piece ‘Boundless [Homage to L.B.]’ will be premiered by musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert (on February 8 and 9 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw). It’s a homage Leonard Bernstein for string orchestra, harp, keyboards and six percussionists, written at the RCO’s request in anticipation of the centenary of the great composer/conductor’s birth. The piece is a kind of mini-symphony (15 minutes long) in three short movements (played attacca) with lots of allusions to Bernstein’s musical aesthetic, containing some highly energetic and exuberant music. My piece will be performed alongside Bernstein’s wonderful violin concerto ‘Serenade after Plato’s Symposium’ and one of Sibelius’ greatest works – his Fourth Symphony.
Second, I made a new version of ‘Visions at Sea’ (a kind of ‘maritime tone poem’ originally written for string quartet) for string orchestra. This new version will be premiered by Amsterdam Sinfonietta (led by British violinist Anthony Marwood) on February 10 in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, with subsequent performances throughout the Netherlands. The program also includes works by Mozart and Stravinsky.
Third, I am very excited that dancers of the Dutch National Ballet will perform a ballet to my composition ‘In Transit’ (for string quartet and percussion), created by the talented Dutch choreographer Ernst Meisner who just stumbled on my music on the internet and thought this piece of mine would make a nice ballet. I am very curious to see what choreography he will come up with. The ballet is part of a program called ‘Made in Amsterdam I’, consisting of four ballets to classical pieces, including a ballet by Hans van Manen to Britten’s ‘Frank Bridge Variations’. The program will be performed six times in February and (early March).


March 2016
In the next few months, there will be many concerts on which my music will be performed. First, there’s my new concerto for solo violin and ensemble called Roads to Everywhere, which will be premiered on March 17 by the amazing violinist Joe Puglia and ASKO | Schönberg conducted by Clark Rundell in the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ Amsterdam, with further performances in Utrecht (March 18), Nijmegen (March 24) and Den Haag (May 14). Also, my Percussion Concerto will receive three new performances (end of March, early April) in Amsterdam and Haarlem (check out the Agenda section for more details). The solo percussion part will be played by the young and talented Dutch percussionist Dominique Vleeshouwers (winner of the TROMP percussion competition in 2014) with the Nederlands Kamerorkest conducted by Jonathan Waleson. These concerts are part of my residency with the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest. Then, Rising Phenix, the big piece for mixed chorus and orchestra which was premiered in November 2014, will be performed again on April 8, again in TivoliVredenburg Utrecht with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest and Groot Omroepkoor conducted by Markus Stenz, this time not alongside Bruckner’s 7th but alongside Bruckner’s 6th (for some reason, I always end up sharing the program with the same composers , Bruckner, Adams, Reich and Stravinsky…)
Finally, an early ensemble work of mine called
Catching Proteus will be performed by the same performers I wrote the piece for eleven years ago, the Nieuw Ensemble (May 12 in the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ again).

November 2015
Lots of upcoming concerts in the first half of 2016, check the Agenda section of this site.

March 2015
Next concert season (2015-16) I will be composer-in-residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. I have a special relationship with this orchestra, since they were the very first professional orchestra that played my music when I was a beginning composer in his teens. My first orchestral attempts, including a symphonic poem called
Titaantjes written when I was 16 and a Symphony suffused with Chinese folk elements written when I was 18, were performed by this orchestra in a series of concerts dedicated to composing youngsters. My residency with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015-16 entails that I will write a large, new piece for the full orchestra, possibly a symphony (due to be premiered in june 2016), but there will also be new performances of earlier works of mine, including From Funeral to Funfair (and back…) and my Percussion Concerto.
Also, I have just started work on a concerto for violin and chamber ensemble for the Dutch-based American violinist Joe Puglia (josephpuglia.com), due to be premiered in March 2016 with the ASKO|Schönberg ensemble.


March 2015

Over the last few months, three new compositions of mine have been premiered. In November 2014 my large-scale chorus and orchestra work
Rising Phenix was premiered by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest and Groot Omroepkoor conducted by Markus Stenz at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht. The piece was enthusiastically received by both the audience and (much to my surprise) the critics, despite the fact that the piece had an unashamedly tonal, at times very romantic and rather grand (some might say bombastic) second movement. Then, in December 2014, the piece In Transit, for string quartet and percussion (commissioned by the Nijmeegse Stichting voor Kamermuziek) received its first performance by the Rubens Quartet and percussionist Ramon Lormans at concert hall De Vereeniging in Nijmegen. Again, the audience (a full hall!) seemed to enjoy the piece very much and responded with loud claps and cheers. Thirdly, and most recently, earlier this month in London, my latest chamber work entitled Lost in a Surreal Trip - one of my darker and more psychedelic pieces, written for violin, cello, percussion and piano - was given a very fine first performance by four members of the ensemble Britten Sinfonia (brittensinfonia.com) at Wigmore Hall. I visited London especially to attend the premiere of this piece (and to do a pre-concert talk in which I was interviewed about the new piece). Following its London premiere, the piece was taken on a mini-tour to Cambridge and Norwich, the latter performance being recorded for BBC Radio 3. It was really great collaborating with these musicians of Britten Sinfonia.

August 2014
A number of performances of music by Joey Roukens are coming up. First, the short orchestral piece Chase (2013), which was premiered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra about a year ago, will be performed again on September 16, this time by the Residentie Orkest during their traditional ‘Prinsjesdag’ Concert. Then, the end of November will see the premiere of Roukens’ big choral piece Rising Phenix, written for the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest & Groot Omroepkoor to celebrate the inaugural season of the TivoliVredenburg concert hall in Utrecht. One day before the premiere in Utrecht, there will also be a free (!) lunch concert in Hilversum on which the piece will be performed as a kind of ‘pre-premiere’. Check the Agenda section for more details. Next, in December there will be a new performance of Fast Movement and Epilogue by the wonderful Japanese ensemble Tokyo Sinfonietta in Suntory Hall Tokyo on December 11, as well as another premiere of a new 15-minute chamber work for string quartet and percussion, on which the composer is now working feverishly. This new chamber work, commissioned by the Nijmeegse Stichting voor Kamermuziek, is due to be performed by the Rubens Quartet and percussionist Ramon Lormans on December 17 at ‘De Vereeniging’ in Nijmegen.
Another project Joey Roukens has recently been involved in is
WANNAPLAY, a huge sound installation consisting of 16 swings, designed by Jan Boiten and Caecilia Thunnissen. Joey Roukens contributed a short composition (entitled On Swings) written especially for this 16 swings installation, which can still be seen (and heard) throughout this month at Lowlands Festival and Vondelpark Festival. The people swinging are the ‘performers’ of the music. Other composers who composed something for this project are David Dramm, Mayke Nas and Robert Zuidam.
Furthermore, Joey Roukens is writing a new work for Britten Sinfonia, for their At Lunch concerts in March 2015. This commission will partly be financed through Britten Sinfonia’s fundraising campaign ‘Musically gifted’, which allows interested people to make a donation, in return for a number of rewards such as getting one’s name printed in the score or receiving a signed copy of the score. If you’re interested to make such a donation for the new Roukens piece, please visit
this link.

February 2014
Coming up: three new performances of Roukens’ vibrantly energetic chamber concerto Scenes From an Old Memory Box by ASKO Schönberg conducted by Etienne Siebens, in Rotterdam (on the 5th of March), Amsterdam (March 6) and Arnhem (March 7), for more information see the Agenda section of this site.
Furthermore, Joey Roukens is putting the finishing touches to his big choral work
Rising Phenix (working title), which is due to be premiered in November in the by then completely renovated Tivoli Vredenburg concert hall in Utrecht. The piece is going to be cast in two big movements, each consisting of two conjoined sub-movements. It is about celebrating rebirth and renewal and thus contains some of the most joyous and jubilant music the composer has written, but it will also contain a highly anguished climax. The piece requires large forces (large orchestra including 6 horns, 5 percussion players, piano and mixed chorus) and will last around 40 minutes. It will be based on a poem by the Victorian English poet Henry Newbolt and a sacred text (Tabula Smaragdina) by Hermes Trismegistus.

September 2013.
Roukens’ latest composition ‘Chase’, a short, high-energy orchestral piece was performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by David Robertson on September 12 and 13. During these two concerts the performance of the piece was accompanied by film images of the spectacular car chase scene from John Frankenheimer’s film ‘Ronin’.
Furthermore, the composer has just started work on a big piece for chorus and orchestra, due to be performed in 2014 by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest and the Groot Omroepkoor in the (by then completely renovated) Vredenburg concert hall in Utrecht.


June 2013.
Mr Finney, de Opera, J
oey Roukens’ opera for both children and adults, enjoyed a very successful tour to all major theatre cities the Netherlands, with a few performances being completely sold out. Although the opera production generated very mixed reviews - many reviewers tended to be critical of the moralistic nature of the story -, the music was generally well received (also see the ‘Press’ section of this site).

March 2013.
Coming up: several new performances of Roukens’ orchestral piece Out of Control by the Brabants Orkest (with members of the Gelders Orkest) conducted by Kees Bakels in April 2013, as well as more performances of Roukens’ works for string quartet (the 2011 string quartet piece Visions at Sea and his Josquin transcription And David Sang) by the Rubens Quartet this spring. Check the Agenda for more details.

February 2013.
Joey Roukens has finished composing the music for his upcoming opera
Mr Finney, de Opera which will be premiered on April 27 at the Koninklijke Schouwburg Den Haag (Royal Theatre The Hague), featuring singers Martijn Cornet, Marijje van Stralen, Machteld Vennevertloo, Jean-Léon Klostermann, Wiebe-Pier Cnossen and Asko|Schönberg conducted by Bas Wiegers. The stage direction will be by Jos van Kan. After the first seven performances in The Hague, the opera will tour to various cities throughout the Netherlands in May and June. For a complete overview of all performances of the opera, visit this website: http://mrfinneydeopera.nl/
For this opera, Joey Roukens collaborated with librettist Carel Alphenaar, who adapted the children’s book by Laurentien van Oranje into an engaging libretto full of humor and wit. The composer tried to set this libretto to vibrant, colorful music that expresses a great variety of moods and atmospheres, from tenderly lyrical to dramatically expressive to wildly joyous. In fact, the opera contains some of the most cheerful music the composer has written. Moreover, the music is full of references to popular, non-classical genres; for instance, one can recognize elements of pop, rock, jazz, blues, cabaret, Broadway musical, nursery songs, gospel, close harmony singing, etc. throughout the opera.


August 2012:
Joey Roukens is working on an opera intended for an audience of both children and adults. The libretto, written by Carel Alphenaar, will be based on the children’s book ‘Mr Finney and the world turned upside-down’, written by (the Dutch princess) Laurentien van Oranje. The story is a fable about a walking fish going on a journey, encountering all kinds of questions and (environmental) problems along the path. Although based on a children’s story, the composer aims to write a piece which is interesting to both children and adults (and to himself), following such models as Humperdinck’s ‘Hänsel und Gretel’, Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ or Ravel’s ‘L’Enfant et les Sortilèges’.

April 2012:
Coming up – the world premiere of Joey Roukens’ latest composition Concerto Hypnagogique, a 37-minute piece in four movements for piano and orchestra. The work will be premiered on May 12 in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam by the Radio Chamber Philharmonic (which will probably cease to exist in 2013 as a result of this government’s disastrous arts cuts), conducted by Thierry Fischer. The soloist will be pianist Ralph van Raat. The piece evokes images, moods and atmospheres one might experience in a state of hypnagogia (the borderland state between wake and sleep), ranging from the delicately ethereal to the wildly frenzied.
• A new version of the orchestral piece
From Funeral to Funfair (and back…) is in preparation. The original version required a brass section with 8 horns, while this new version can be played by an orchestra with (the more standard number of) 4 horns. This new version is due to be performed for the first time in Russia in June this year, during the Sakharov International Arts Festival.

March 2012:
Joey Roukens and the Rubens Quartet appeared on the Dutch TV program ‘Vrije Geluiden’ for the second time (the first time being two years ago). Roukens talked about his most recent piece written for the quartet, Visions at Sea, a surrealist sea journey evoking the Dutch maritime past, which was played by the Rubens Quartet in its entirety (although only a fragment of the piece could be broadcast). Watch and hear the Rubens Quartet play the full(!) piece here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1G5xTbDvDU

February 2012:
A CD of Roukens’ string quartet Earnest and Game from 2007 and his string quartet transcription And David Sang (based on a motet by Josquin Desprez), played by the Rubens Quartet, has finally been released! This disc, which has already received critical acclaim, serves as a document of the composer’s two-year-long composer-in-residenceship with the quartet, which has now officially come to an end - although the composer and quartet will undoubtedly work together again in the future. The disc further includes Mozart’s Dissonance Quartet K. 465 and is available through the website of the Rubens Quartet: http://www.rubenskwartet.nl/ Buy it!

December 2011:
Roukens’ orchestral work Out of Control can now be heard on CD. A live recording of the piece is included on the double-CD Horizon 4, the fourth release in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s ‘Horizon’ series (anthologies of RCO live recordings). More info on this release here: http://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/2-luister-winkel-detail.aspx?productid=51

July 2011:
Joey Roukens has just finished a new piece for string quartet called Visions at Sea written for the Rubens Kwartet, as part of the composer’s residency with this ensemble. The piece was commissioned by the National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) for the grand re-opening of the museum in October 2011 (the museum has just been completely renovated). The piece is full of references to the Dutch maritime past and its Golden Age (i.e., the 17th century: the time of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company), including quotations of very old Dutch sea shanties that were actually sung during the VOC era.

29 May 2011:
Joey Roukens’ Percussion Concerto was premiered today by brilliant percussionist Colin Currie and Sinfonia Rotterdam conducted by Conrad van Alphen. The audience was highly enthusiastic! A very memorable premiere...

March 2011: Coming up – two premieres of new works by Joey Roukens within one week!
On March 24 and 25 the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (conducted by David Robertson) will play Roukens’new orchestral piece
Out of Control. The program also includes pieces by Dukas, Takemitsu, Sandström and John Adams.
The second premiere concerns the chamber concerto
Scenes from an old memory box written for the Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble, who will play the piece (with conductor Clark Rundell) on March 30 (at the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven) and March 31 (at the Muziekgebouw aan het IJ Amsterdam). This program includes another world premiere of a work by Julia Wolfe, transcriptions of African music and Steve Reich’s Tehillim.

February 2011: In February there will be two more concerts by the Rubens Quartet as part of the composer’s residency with this ensemble (February 6 in Dalfsen and February 20 in Amsterdam, see the Agenda). The program will include Roukens’ Earnest and Game as well as his transcription of Josquin’s music entitled And David Sang. Also on the program will be Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 18 no. 5. Again, the composer will be present at these concerts to talk about his work and introduce the pieces being played.
Furthermore, Joey Roukens and the Rubens Quartet will go into the studio in March to make a CD recording of
Earnest and Game and And David Sang (as well as Mozart’s “Dissonance Quartet” KV. 465).

January 2011: Joey Roukens is working feverishly to finish a new percussion concerto in time. The piece, which is going to be a fiendishly difficult concerto in four movements, is due to premiered in May 2011 already, in Rotterdam (De Doelen) by the acclaimed British percussionist Colin Currie as the soloist and Sinfonia Rotterdam conducted by Conrad van Alphen.


Click here to read a blog-like report (Dutch only) of Joey Roukens' residency activities with the Rubens Quartet.

September 2010: On September 9 there will be a night concert (a so-called “night lounge” starting at 22:30 pm) in De Doelen Rotterdam featuring works by Joey Roukens played by the Rubens Quartet, as well as the composer himself improvising at the piano. The concert will be part of the Gergiev Festival 2010. It’s going to be a rather unconventional concert that will also feature the Dutch Poet Laureate Ramsey Nasr, pianist Guy Livingston, violist Danusha Waskiewicz and audio-visual artist Martin de Korte.

August 2010: Joey Roukens has just finished a new chamber concerto for 19 players (7 woodwinds, 5 percussion, 2 keyboards and 5 strings) entitled Scenes from an Old Memory Box. It’s a piece in three movements due to be premiered by the ASKO Ensemble in March 2011.

March 2010: On February 21 Joey Roukens and the Rubens Quartet appeared on the TV program Vrije Geluiden, one of the few (I would even say, the only) good non-popular music program on Dutch television. The composer was interviewed and talked about his collaboration with the quartet. Of course, music was played as well: the Rubens Quartet played the first two movements from Roukens’ 2007 string quartet Earnest and Game. Videos of their performance have been posted on Youtube.

Watch (and hear) them play the first movement
Prelude – Memory fragments here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9sU4zWNb1Y
Watch (and hear) them play the second movement
Ecstasy here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmyohJEHNUw


December 2009: Joey Roukens is currently working on a new piece for symphony orchestra, due to be premiered in March 2011 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by David Robertson.

December 2009: Coming up - the world premiere of a new piano trio, entitled Piano Trio ‘Shadows and Bells’, written for the Storioni Trio. The Storioni will premiere the piece in January 2010 in the Toonzaal in Den Bosch during their Storioni Festival (see Agenda). It’s a piece full of contrasts - dark and light, serious and playful, energetic and slow – and with many references to the “big romantic tradition” of the piano trio (Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms).

December 1 2009: The composer has embarked on a “residency” with the young, talented string quartet Rubens Kwartet (rubenskwartet.nl): Roukens and the Rubens Quartet will collaborate over the next two years, which will result in more music being written by Roukens for string quartet. The two first worked together when the Rubens Quartet premiered Roukens’ string quartet Earnest and Game some years ago. Now they will take this piece on a tour across the Netherlands during a series of concerts in January 2010 (which will also include a piece by Josquin Des Prez in a transcription for string quartet by Joey Roukens), as well as a series of lunch concerts together with young marimba player Arjan Jongsma in December 2009 (see Agenda). For the latter occassion, Roukens also arranged a number of miniatures by Caucasian composers Komitas and Tsintsadze for string quartet and marimba. During the concerts in January, the composer will be present at the concerts to talk about his music and introduce his work to the audience.

July 1 2009: The composer will visit Japan to attend the world premiere performance of his new piece for chamber orchestra, Fast Movement and Epilogue, by Tokyo Sinfonietta. This ensemble will also perform the piece during the Gaudeamus Music Week in Amsterdam in September (see Agenda).

May 2009: Joey Roukens has just finished a new piece commissioned by Tokyo Sinfonietta, a Japanese ensemble specialized in contemporary music. This new piece, entitled ‘Fast Movement and Epilogue’, is a highly virtuoso 14-minute piece for chamber orchestra, extremely difficult to play and probably the fastest piece the composer has written so far. The first ten or so minutes of the piece sound like a high-speed roller-coaster ride, requiring the musicians to maintain high energy playing and a very fast tempo throughout. It is a rather relentless piece with driving, syncopated rhythms (that sometimes clearly refer to certain pop genres), moments of playfulness, lightness and humor and at times a Stravinskian bite. A contrasting slow and dreamy epilogue concludes the piece, putting the fast movement in a slightly different perspective.
The piece will be premiered in Tokyo on July 9 (see Agenda).