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The majority of Vanessa Lann's compositions include aspects of ritual, ceremony or contemplation. She is interested in breaking with the conventional concert-hall approach to the performance and programming of music, and she frequently experiments with alternative ways of sharing sound, other media and time with audiences, often hoping to blur the boundary between art and daily experience. In her music Lann uses the repetition of recognizable figures, as well as layers of structures based on number ratios, to create a world in which each subtle element has a distinct meaning. In many works she explores the listener's perception of continuity, infinity and silence, as well as the shifting psychological relationship between foreground and background material, or between performer and audience. Lann is intrigued by the boundaries of what is audible: how long or how quietly a note can be appreciated, how a performer's changing physical experience of a musical gesture changes its nature, why an altered context of a recognizable element can render it absurd or divine. She embraces the sensuality of the rawest of sounds, as well as the riskiness and "impolite" quality inherent in the seemingly endless recurrence of the most basic, even childlike, patterns. She searches for extremes within limited means and asks the listener to enter the time and sound world of the music in as simple a manner as possible: as the essence of the music gradually becomes apparent, she hopes that the listener continuously reevaluates his relationship to the music and to the meaning of listening, itself.

Vanessa Lann (New York, 1968) has been a composer and pianist since the age of five. She studied composition with Ruth Schonthal at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, where she received the William Petchek Scholarship. For two summers she was a scholarship student at the Tanglewood Institute. She was graduated summa cum laude from the music department of Harvard University (composition, theory, musicology, piano performance, conducting), where her teachers included Earl Kim, Leon Kirchner and Peter Lieberson. Lann won the New York Music Teachers Association 'Herbert Zipper Prize,' the New York Musicians Club 'Bohemians Prize' and the Harvard University 'Hugh F. MacColl Prize.' She directed the Harvard Group For New Music and was co-founder of the Harvard Group For Gender Studies In Music. She also produced and announced radio feature programs (WHRB, Cambridge) and worked as music director for productions at the American Repertory Theatre. In addition to her music courses, Lann studied film theory and physics. In 1990 Vanessa Lann was awarded the Harvard University 'John Knowles Paine Travelling Fellowship,' which brought her to The Netherlands for further study in music composition. She received her Diploma with highest honors in 1993 from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where her teachers included Theo Loevendie, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen.

At present Lann lives and works as a composer and pianist in The Netherlands. She is also a Professor of Music at Webster University in Leiden, where she enjoys combining musicological studies with other related fields. She has put together a variety of interesting courses, including:

- Music and Mathematics
- Music and Art Performed as Theater (multimedia studio course)
- Singing as Ritual
- Western Music, Eastern Thought (influences of various forms of Eastern philosophy on both Eastern and Western music and art)

Vanessa Lann also works as a visiting lecturer at individual events and cultural series on topics involving music, art, history and society. Special subjects include: 1) Creativity and lifelong learning; 2) Multimedia/multicultural interaction and influences; 3) Music history from new perspectives; 4) The role of the arts in modern society; 5) The life and work of Hildegard von Bingen; 6) The connections between Eastern art and aesthetics and Western music and culture. Lann is also frequently invited to give pre-concert introductions and interviews at a wide range of performance spaces (English or Dutch language).

During Lann's two years as the Curriculum Manager Worldwide for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Group 6 (Arts) courses, she reviewed, designed and developed the syllabuses and assessment strategies for the music, theatre, film, dance and visual arts courses in high schools throughout the world along with teams of international experts. At present she advises schools and other educational institutions on their policies and programmes to optimize engagement and stimulate inspirational trajectories in teaching and learning environments for students of all ages.


Vanessa Lann has had approximately 75 pieces commissioned and championed by orchestral, ensemble and chamber forces including the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra, Latvian Radio Choir, Boston Pops Orchestra, Dutch Radio Choir, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Nederlands Studentenorkest, DoelenKwartet, Schoenberg Ensemble, Orkest de Volharding, Nieuw Ensemble, Sinfonia Rotterdam, Silbersee, Cappella Amsterdam, Ellerhein Girls Choir, Stolz Quartet, Ensemble Black Pencil, Zemtsov Viola Quartet, Maarten Altena Ensemble, David Kweksilber Bigband, ELECTRA, Storioni Trio, VOCES8, Liza Ferschtman, Inon Barnatan, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph van Raat, Guy Livingston, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Pekka Kuusisto, Fie Schouten, Ivo Janssen, Ursula Oppens, Bram van Sambeek, Mor Biron, Tomoko Mukaiyama, Cristina Zavalloni, Isabel Ettenauer, Benjamin Schmid and Monica Germino.

Performances venues featuring Lann's music include Lincoln Center (NY), De Doelen (Rotterdam), Philharmonie and Konzerthaus (Berlin), Symphony Hall (Boston), Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ (Amsterdam) and Wigmore Hall (London).

Conductors have included Vladimir Jurowski, Etienne Siebens, Alan Gilbert, Reinbert de Leeuw, Keith Lockhart, David Porcelijn, Kenneth Montgomery, Oliver Knussen, Daniel Reuss, Peter Biloen, Kaspars Putnins, Ingrid Korvits, Avner Biron, Wiecher Mandemaker, Romain Bischoff, Benjamin Levy, Hans Leenders, Conrad van Alphen and Jurjen Hempel.

Lann has been asked as composer/lecturer/judge for festivals including Oranjewoud (NL), Gaudeamus Music Week (NL), Holland Festival (NL), Delft Chamber Music Festival (NL), Internationale Koorbiennale (NL), Gergiev Festival (NL), Storioni Festival (NL), ISCM World Music Days (Estonia), Ars Musica (Belgium), Warsaw Autumn (Poland), West Cork Chamber Music Festival (Ireland), Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany), Focus! (USA), Tanglewood Music Festival (USA), Bang on a Can Marathon at Mass MoCA (USA), Kiev Music Fest (Ukraine), Brundibar (UK), Ultima (Norway), Time of Music (Finland) and Kuhmo (Finland).

Vanessa has also enjoyed collaborating with visual artists, filmmakers and dancers on multimedia projects (including the educational school performance Heartbeat with the Project Sally dance company, and her opera De Stilte van Saar with Silbersee and Muziektheater Hollands Diep).


Lann's large commissioned work for the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague entitled THE FLAMES OF QUIETUDE (premiered during Festival In De Branding under the direction of Etienne Siebens) was inspired by ideas in Eastern philosophy and involves the listener's gradual recognition of simple, recurring patterns in music, as well as in daily life. The majority of the orchestral parts can be played in two different ways: alongside the other instrumental parts during an orchestral performance, or separately as works of solo or chamber music. Vanessa Lann performed the orchestral piano part herself - both with the orchestra during the concert, as well as in an infinitely-repeating solo version in the background of the foyer of the hall as the audience entered the building prior to the concert.

"I've heard it all before..." ???

Lann asks: is there really a beginning or an end to a piece of music? When, during our experience of a work of art, does memory begin? During a performance of The Flames of Quietude audience members will likely connect many of the elements of the piece to things they have already heard or experienced thousands of times, triggering individual paths of personal recognition and recollection as the piece progresses. But do these "connections" originate one hour back in time with the endless piano patterns from the foyer, or do they occur simply from the time the conductor's arms are raised, or do they go back to circumstances and reference points with entirely different meanings from moments in each listener's past? Does all musical material already exist in the world around us, just waiting to be discovered and reassembled in new and different contexts and combinations? Since the musical material in The Flames of Quietude is largely taken from former works of Lann, from everyday sound sources and from well-known works of other composers, and merely newly juxtaposed, each audience member will ask these questions in his or her own way during the ritual of the shared concert experience, reflecting his or her unique awareness, sense of humor and method of listening.

Lann has recently completed a commissioned work for the Fagotnetwerk (Bassoon Network) of the Netherlands. It is called Rise, and it is scored for two solo bassoons and (amateur) orchestra. The idea behind the piece is that this beautiful instrument - and the (amateur) performers of this instrument - deserve more attention! The piece was written with the interests and capacities of amateur orchestral musicians in mind. The two bassoonists of every orchestra performing this work will get a very-much-needed chance to shine! Publisher Donemus is doing everything possible to make this piece available (and not too costly) for any orchestras in the world who wish to perform it.

Please also see upcoming events for more details about other works which have been performed recently, or those which will be performed/premiered in the near future!


Vanessa Lann (New York, 1968) began composing and playing the piano at the age of five and has continued ever since. She studied composition with Ruth Schonthal at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, where she received the William Petchek Scholarship. For two summers she was a scholarship student at the Tanglewood Institute, and she holds degrees from Harvard University and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands. Her works are performed throughout the world, in such venues as the Philharmonie (Berlin), Lincoln Center (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), the Doelen (Rotterdam) and the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), as well as at leading European and American festivals. She has received commissions and prizes from internationally renowned soloists, ensembles and organizations.

Her opera, The Silence of Sarah, was premiered in 2013. The large-scale choreographed work O Whispering Suns (2011), for Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin), Viktor Kopatchinsky (cimbalom) and 100 singers, is a setting of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. Her bassoon concerto, Double | Reed, was written on request of the acclaimed soloist Bram van Sambeek and the chamber orchestra Sinfonia Rotterdam and was premiered under the direction of Conrad van Alphen in 2014. Her orchestral piece, Dancing to an Orange Drummer, was created for the Boston Pops Orchestra and received its first performance under the baton of Keith Lockhart in Symphony Hall, Boston, in 2015.

Lann lives and works in the Netherlands as a composer, pianist and university professor (teaching musicology, mathematics, Eastern philosophy and multimedia at Webster Univsersity Leiden). Lann's music is published by DONEMUS, is broadcast frequently and is included in many CDs and recordings. Her most recent CD, moonshadow sunshadow, is a compilation of pieces from the past 25 years, on the ATTACCA label (

Her work makes varied use of repeated figures, as well as structures based on number ratios and patterns, to explore concepts of continuity, infinity and silence. Ritual and humor are important elements of her music, and she often places everyday sounds and gestures in unusual contexts, thus illuminating them from new and surprising perspectives.

She recently received the 2019 Buma Classical Award for being the most-performed Dutch composer worldwide (


Vanessa Lann (NY, 1968) studied composition at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, Harvard University and Royal Conservatory of The Hague. Lann works in the Netherlands as a composer, university professor (Webster University Leiden: musicology, mathematics, Eastern philosophy, multimedia) and visiting composition lecturer (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht).

Lann's work is performed in venues all over the world including the Berlin Philharmonie, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw and De Doelen. Commissioned by renowned soloists, ensembles and festivals, her music is featured on more than ten recordings and is published by Donemus. Her most recent CD, moonshadow sunshadow, is a compilation of pieces from the past 25 years, on the ATTACCA label (ATT 2015146).

Lann's music uses the repetition of recognizable figures, as well as structures based on number ratios and patterns, to explore concepts of continuity, infinity and silence, incorporating ritual and humor while placing every-day sounds and gestures in unusual contexts.

She recently received the 2019 Buma Classical Award for being the most-performed Dutch composer worldwide (


Vanessa Lann (New York, 1968) studeerde piano, compositie en muziektheorie aan het Westchester Conservatory of Music en vervolgde haar studie aan Harvard University waar ze cum laude afstudeerde. In 1990 ontving zij de John Knowles Paine Travelling Fellowship die een studie aan het Koninklijk Conservatorium te Den Haag bij onder andere Theo Loevendie mogelijk maakte. Sinds 2002 is zij, naast drukbezette componist, docent muziekgeschiedenis, wiskunde, oosterse filosofie, wereldmuziek en multimedia aan de Webster University in Leiden.

Ze schreef vele opdrachtcomposities voor verschillende muziekgezelschappen, zoals Sinfonia Rotterdam, Groot Omroepkoor, Lets Radiokoor, Cappella Amsterdam, Residentieorkest, Radio Kamerorkest, Schoenberg Ensemble, philharmonie zuidnederland, Boston Pops Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble, Storioni Trio en het DoelenKwartet. Lann heeft ook voor bekende solisten geschreven, zoals Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Liza Ferschtman, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph van Raat, Bram van Sambeek, Guy Livingston en Tomoko Mukaiyama. Haar opera (De Stilte van Saar, voor Muziektheater Hollands Diep, VocaalLAB en Ensemble Klang) ging februari 2013 in premiere. Lanns muziek is met vele prijzen bekroont en wordt regelmatig uitgevoerd in concerten en festivals door de hele wereld. Werken van Vanessa Lann, gepubliceerd door DONEMUS, zijn ten gehore gebracht in Lincoln Center (New York), Symphony Hall (Boston), De Philharmonie (Berlijn), De Doelen (Rotterdam), het Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ en het Concertgebouw (Amsterdam). Haar compilatie-cd heet moonshadow sunshadow (2016,

Lann heeft de 2019 Buma Classical Award ontvangen als meest uitgevoerde Nederlandse componist.

Lanns composities bevatten veelal rituele elementen. Zij gebruikt repeterende figuren en structurele getalsverhoudingen om een wereld te scheppen waarin elk subtiel muzikaal en theatraal gegeven een betekenis heeft. Zij zoekt naar de grenzen van het hoorbare: hoe lang kan een noot duren, hoe lang blijven herhalingen van patronen boeiend? Deze zoektocht naar extremen met gelimiteerd materiaalgebruik vormt de kracht van haar werk. De luisteraar moet zich kunnen concentreren en opgaan in de tijd- en klankwereld van de muziek zonder complexiteit, zodat deze de essentie van het stuk kan bevatten (

Vanessa Lann's music is available through DONEMUS and their American affiliate, Theodore Presser.

She also composes music for private commissions/events. Please contact her directly through the email address on this site for further information.

Photo credit, top of page, Vanessa Lann: Gerhard van Roon

Photo credit, "Composer Vanessa Lann performing the piano part of her orchestral piece 'The Flames of Quietude' in the foyer of the Dr. Anton Philips Hall in The Hague prior to the world premiere of this work with the Residentie Orkest under the direction of Etienne Siebens": Ym Bosma

statue, head: Pythagoras

dude with sunglasses: Igor Stravinsky

sculpture: Constantin Brancusi, "The Beginning of the World" (c. 1920, Dallas Museum of Art)

For more biographical information about Vanessa Lann (temporarily only in Dutch; publisher is revamping catalogue): article from DONEMUS Composer's Brochure and bio from DONEMUS Composer's Brochure

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
about the dark times.

- Bertold Brecht

Perhaps all music, even the newest, is not so much something discovered as something that re-emerges from where it lay buried in the memory,
inaudible as a melody cut in a disc of flesh. A composer lets me hear a song that has always been shut up silent within me.

- Jean Genet

Repetition and multiplication - two simple words. The entire world perceivable with the senses would fall apart into meaningless chaos
if we could not cling to these two concepts.

- M.C. Escher

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