Joey Roukens

Contemporary Composer


Joey Roukens (b. 1982) is an Amsterdam-based composer of contemporary classical music. He studied classical composition at Codarts University of the Arts and psychology at Leiden University. Since graduating in 2006, Roukens has emerged as one of the most striking and most performed Dutch contemporary composers of his generation. He has written works in a variety of genres, ranging from large-scale orchestral works to chamber music and solo works. In most of his works, Roukens seeks to organically integrate elements from highly diverse influences and aesthetics – including the orchestral vibrancy of early Stravinsky and Ravel, the late-Romantic gestures of Mahler and Sibelius, the pulsating rhythms of American minimalism, the serenity of Renaissance polyphony, as well as certain kinds of pop music and jazz. Not because Roukens cannot choose, but because he feels they are all part of the musical air he breathes. For a long time, Roukens was also active in pop music.
His music has been described as “..exploring cross-currents between popular and classical styles..”, “..beautifully mysterious..”, “..full of biting cross-rhythms, with all the urgent energy of a modern cityscape..”, “..glittering without being blaring..”, “..bridging tonality with atonality and the present and ancient..” by such sources as The New York Times and The Times.

Roukens’ works have been performed by major ensembles and soloists at home and abroad, such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra dell’Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, ASKO|Schönberg, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Britten Sinfonia, Tokyo Sinfonietta, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, Ralph van Raat, Colin Currie and the pianist brothers Lucas & Arthur Jussen.


Notable compositions include ‘Rising Phenix’ (2014), a large scale cantata for mixed chorus and orchestra written to celebrate the re-opening of the revovated TivoliVredenburg concert hall in Utrecht; a two-movement violin concerto ‘Roads to Everywhere’ (2015) written for violinist Joseph Puglia and ASKO|Schönberg; the orchestral work ‘Morphic Waves’ (2015), which has received several successful international performances; ‘Boundless’ (2016), a vibrant homage to Leonard Bernstein (on the centennial of his birth) for string orchestra, harp, keyboards and percussion, which was commissioned and premiered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and subsequently performed by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert; a double piano concerto called ‘In Unison’ (2017), written for the celebrated young Dutch piano duo Lucas & Arthur Jussen, a work which was met with great public and critical acclaim; the String Quartet No. 4 ‘What Remains’ (2019), written for the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam; ‘Dorian’ (2020, rev. 2022), an evening-length ballet in two acts; ‘Distorted Fantasia (after J.P. Sweelinck)’ (2021), written for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Sweelinck’s death; the acclaimed ‘Symphony No. 1 (Kaleidoscopic)’ (2021) and an hour-long ‘Requiem’ (2022) for mixed chorus, percussion and strings, written for the Bosch Requiem series of the new music festival November Music.