Vanessa Lann is a Dutch-American composer, pianist and educator living and working in the Netherlands. Born in Brooklyn, she began studying piano at the age of five. Her first compositions also stem from her childhood years. After graduating from Harvard University she came to the Netherlands in 1990 to continue her studies in composition with Theo Loevendie and Louis Andriessen at The Hague’s Royal Conservatory. Shortly after arriving in the Netherlands she received her first commission from ensemble Orkest De Ereprijs and has continued to write for Dutch and international musicians, ensembles and festivals ever since. She now has a total of 95 commissioned works to her name, ranging from solo pieces to works for large ensemble, choir, and orchestra. She has also worked on a number of scenic and staged projects with a range of interdisciplinary collaborators.
Recent signature works
Signature works in the last years include her opera De Stilte van Saar (with Muziektheater Hollands Diep, Silbersee, Ensemble Klang); music theatre piece Far Cries | Distance No Object (for Operadagen Rotterdam), O Whispering Suns (semi-staged immersive choral work for Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Viktor Kopatchinsky, the Dutch Radio Choir and the Latvian Radio Choir); film Geluiden van Lucht (for Monica Germino, Florien de la Fosse and Avenue Azure); and Only the Lonely [work for four pianists Dark Familiar (After Brahms) theatrically paired in collaboration with makers from Altstadt Rotterdam].
Advocate of education
Vanessa Lann is also a tireless advocate and activist in the field of music education. She has worked in the past 25 years as a professor at Webster University Leiden, a visiting lecturer at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht and an A-level music teacher at the British School in the Netherlands. She has composed competition pieces for young players (#lovethispiece for the Daviny van Wely category of the Dutch Violin Competition), and for amateurs (bassoon double concerto Rise for the Dutch Bassoon Network). Her recent youth production Heartbeat (collaboration between Sally Dance Maastricht, Spoken Word Artist Dichter and Philharmonie Zuidnederland) was attended by over a thousand Dutch teenagers with accompanying workshops incorporated into their school music programmes. Vanessa is also frequently in demand for international juries, panels and advice committees. She is a judge and programmer for the European Composers and Songwriters Alliance, a Music Advisor for the Dutch Arts Council and a member of the Artistic Board of the Gaudeamus Festival (for young music pioneers). Her passion for community and network building, especially where the interests of female or next-generation composers are concerned, has been a priority in recent years alongside her own creative work. She is an active member of the Dutch composers’ union Nieuw Geneco and contributes to their national programmes.
In 2022 Vanessa Lann was appointed as the first Head of Composition for Film and Theatre at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Arnhem. In this part-time position she leads an international team of academic staff and visiting professionals from the film and music sectors to provide a dynamic, practically-based curriculum designed to equip students for future careers in composing for film and the live performing arts.
- Composition for Film and Theatre
- Vanessa Lann: “A school is not a one-way street: lecturers can learn from students just as much as the other way around“
Winner BUMA Classical Prize
In 2019 she was awarded the prestigious BUMA Classical Prize as the most frequently performed composer in the Netherlands in 2018.