Aidan Mikdad (Amsterdam, 19 November 2001, son of a Syrian father and a Dutch mother) is a Dutch classical pianist. At the age of 11 , he won the first prize of the Koninklijk Concertgebouw Competition. At the age of 13, he won the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Scholarship that was awarded to him by pianist Hélène Grimaud. In 2014, he won the first prize of the International Piano Competition of Lagny-sur-Marne. He currently studies with Naum Grubert at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Previously, Aidan was a student of Mila Baslawskaja, which whom he studied at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he enrolled in the bachelor programme at the age of 14. At the age of 15 he won the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw Young Talent Award. Recently he won the Pnina Salzman Memorial Prize at the Tel Hai International Piano Masterclasses in Israël. In 2016, he won the first prize of the Premio Internazionale Pianistico “A. Scriabin” for pianists up to 35 years of age, he also received the Tabor Foundation Piano Award from the Verbier Festival as a recognition of his potential and as an investment in his promise.
Over the years, he has taken piano lessons with Vovka Ashkenazy, Sergei Babayan, Paul Badura-Skoda, Dmitri Bashkirov, Jonathan Biss, Victor Derevianko, Nelson Goerner, Richard Goode, Naum Grubert, Klaus Hellwig, Alexander Mndoyants, Pascal Némirovski, Enrico Pace, Jorge Luis Prats, Ferenc Rados, András Schiff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Natalia Troull, Jenny Zaharieva, Asaf Zohar, and with Joanna MacGregor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His repertoire includes works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Haydn, Liszt, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Scriabin, and Stravinsky. He has given recitals in Belgium, France, Germany, Israël, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and he performed live in television and radio programs in the Netherlands and France.
- 2015: included a series of concerts in the Netherlands & Belgium in which he played the First Piano Concerto by Franz Liszt with the Euregio Youth Orchestra and conductor Hans Casteleyn. In November 2014 he performed Franz Liszt’ Mephisto Waltz No. 1 live in a radio program of France Musique Radio.
- 2016, he gave solo recitals in the Hermitage in Amsterdam and in Ponzano di Fermo (Italy), where he played Beethoven Sonata No. 28, Op. 101, Scriabin Sonata No. 5, Rachmaninoff Sonata No. 2, and Stravinsky’s Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka. 2016 included also an invitation to participate in the Verbier Festival Academy, a debut recital in June at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr, a live performance in July of Mendelssohn’s concerto No. 1 on Dutch National Radio with conductor Johannes Leertouwer and the Wonderfeel Orchestra at the Wonderfeel Summer Festival, a debut in the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), where he played Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 with Sinfonia Rotterdam and conductor Conrad van Alphen, that he also performed in de Nieuwe Kerk (The Hague) and De Doelen (Rotterdam).
- 2016/17 included amongst others solo recitals in France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. Also, he also played a quatre-mains with Jean-Yves Thibaudet live on France Musique Radio, and a piano duet with German cellist Raphaela Gromes in the wonderful Künstlerhaus am Lehnbach Platz in München. On March 5th 2017, he made his debuts in the Jubilee Concert of the Series Meesterpianisten in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In addition, he performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Orchestra Sinfonica “Città di Grosseto” in several Italian cities: Empoli, Grosseto, and Brescia.
- 2017/18, he has given a series of concerts (recitals & with orchestra) in the Netherlands & Switzerland. He performed the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor with Het Gelders Orkest (in Utrecht, Nijmegen, Arnhem & Apeldoorn), and the First Piano Concerto by Franz Liszt with Het Orkest van het Oosten (in Enschede), and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (in Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern). Furthermore, he performed Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos with The Conservatory of Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Utrecht. In addition he performed Bach Piano Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich Piano Quintet Op. 57 with the Alma Quartet.
In Verbier, where he was invited as student-in-residence, he followed masterclasses in chamber music with Pamela Frank and Gábor Takács-Nagy, and piano masterclasses with Sergei Babayan. In addition, he gave a solo recital and performed Brahms Quartet in G minor together with Daniela Akta (Cello), Johan Dalene (Violin) , Vicki Powell (Viola). Aidan has a Fazioli grand piano (1991) on loan generously provided from the collection of the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation. He also studies on a piano, generously provided by the Young Pianist Foundation.
Arno Stoffelsma about orchestras and judgments
He has a special hobby. Or combines two surprising careers. This inhabitant of Arnheim has a (more or less) hidden talent. In the first edition Arno Stoffelsma (b. 1982), first clarinet player at Het Gelders Orkest and legal assistant at Dirkzwager. A super musical jurist. Or a legally trained musician. It depends on how you look at it. Arno Stoffelsma at least mixes two special careers. All credits for his employer Dirkzwager. Because that’s how he succeeds in successfully combining both professions. When you look at his agenda, you become almost tired. Because Arno Stoffelsma almost literally flies back and forth between the concert hall of Musis (concert hall in Arnheim) and Dirkzwager Lawyers & Notaries. One time with his clarinet under his arm, the other time with a briefcase full of files and legal texts. “I’m never mistaken. I do not accidentally pick up my clarinet in the office and do not make any contracts during the rehearsal pause of Het Gelders Orkest. For that it is much too different worlds. But I am very happy that they have come together in Arnheim for three and a half years. “
Clarinet lesson at home
Arno has been playing the clarinet since he was seven years old. That may not be surprising with a clarinet player as a mother and a father who is a hobby horn player. “At home only classical music was recorded; we were really brought up with that. My brother and I were both encouraged to also play an instrument. I received clarinet lessons from my mother for four and a half years. Then I really went the ‘level music school’ and went looking for another music teacher. That was Herman Braune, clarinet teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory. “
Arno had talent, that much was certain. At the age of twelve he was selected for the Young Talent class at that same Conservatory. “The clarinet is also physically good with me. With other people, playing after 5 minutes is already tickling, but I can keep up with that from an early age. And it makes a big difference that my mother immediately corrected me at home if I did something wrong. The flaming of wrong habits takes a lot more time and energy than the learning of new ones. I studied at least two hours of clarinet every day. The better you become, the more fun it is to play. That works extra stimulating. “
When he was sixteen, Arno was selected for the Netherlands Youth Orchestra, with whom he soon toured Japan. Later the European Youth Orchestra followed, under the direction of famous conductors such as Bernhard Haitink and Herbert Blomstedt. Arno: “Maybe I have jumped too young. At the age of 21, before I had a bachelor’s degree from the Conservatory, I got my first job at the Concertgebouw Orchestra. A dream job, of course, especially for someone without a notable professional experience. After that I worked as a freelancer for several years at various orchestras in the Netherlands and abroad, until I ended up at Het Gelders Orkest (HGO) in 2007. They call it ‘a warm bath’, and that’s what it is. I’m really enjoying it. Especially now that we are allowed to play in these beautiful new rooms of Musis. De Muzenzaal has been restored very cleverly to its former glory. The renovation has succeeded very nicely anyway, especially the Park Hall with all that glass and green. It is very special to be able to play in daylight and not in a closed box, which is the most concert halls. “
Role of law
Five years ago, that passion for classical music was the prelude to a new profession: a law school. “I find it interesting to think about legal issues and about the role of law in our society. And it has practical advantages: you can study law very well in your own time.” Arno graduated from the VU in Amsterdam where he still lives. He recently completed his Masters in Law at the Open University. For three and a half years Arno has been part-time legal assistant at Dirkzwager at Velperweg (Arnheim), where he has the freedom to work between the tight rehearsal schedule and the performances of HGO. As is known, the Arnheim law firm is very fond of the fine arts.
Arno, philosophizing: “Law and musicians may have similarities. You try to take someone else with you, to convince them. Sometimes quite literally, in a plea for the good cause or a client, the other time on the concert stage. Furthermore, of course, everything applies: if you stick to it, it will bear fruit. Making flying hours and going for it.” “Learning wrong habits takes much more time than learning new ones”
Tip from Arno:
Mozart’s Concert for clarinet and orchestra is a great opportunity for Het Gelders Orkest to show Zutphen, Nimwegen, Arnheim and Doetinchem the velvety tone of the clarinet.
From the explanation in the concert program:
We do not know how long Mozart worked at his clarinet concert, but everything indicates that the score was quickly on paper. A first version of the first part had been in a drawer for a while (written for bassethorn), so that a revision would suffice here. The concert is a wonder of a simplicity, grace and allure. It proves that Mozart’s music was by no means the vehicle of his emotional life: no trace of oppressive living conditions or psychological unrest. His Concert for clarinet and orchestra arises in these last months of his life. Mozart writes it for his friend Anton Stadler, who according to him can imitate the human voice with his instrument. Solo clarinettist Arno Stoffelsma performs with his velvety tone in Stadler’s footsteps.
2017/03/02 – And… a very nice wish from the Gelderland Orchestra
After World War II founded in 1949 the Gelderland Philharmonic Orchestra, which not only Arnhem, but did serve the entire province of Gelderland. The orchestra was successively headed by directors Jan Out, Carl von Garaguly, Leo Driehuis, Yoav Talmi, Roberto Benzi (1989-1998) and Lawrence Renes (1998-2002). A special project was in the nineties, the recording of the complete orchestral works of Igor Markevitch with conductor Christopher Lyndon-Gee on seven CDs. From 2003 to 2009, the orchestra has developed further under the leadership of artistic director and chief conductor Martin Sieghart. He made the orchestra include recordings of works by Gustav Mahler, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms. Also it came to performances in the Wiener Musikverein. The permanent guest conductor Nikolai Alexeev, the Russian since 2002. Under his leadership played a lot of music by Russian composers. Alexeev in 2004 was musical director of the Stravinsky Festival in Arnhem. Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi is as permanent conductor of the Gelderland Philharmonic Orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra made very successful tours in 2007 and 2009 by his native Japan. Sieghart has the title of honorary guest conductor. From August 1, 2011 is the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra under the artistic direction of Italian chief conductor Antonello Manacorda. The orchestra has also had other famous conductors, among others were Bernard Klee, Jaap van Zweden and Roy Goodman as a conductor for the orchestra. The permanent concert hall of the orchestra is Musis Sacrum in Arnhem. In addition, frequently occurred in other Gelderland concert halls, such as the Vereeniging in Nijmegen and Orpheus in Apeldoorn.