Alexander Comitas

Alexander Comitas (born 1957) studied piano with Thom Bollen and composition with Hans Kox at the Utrecht Conservatory, and orchestral conducting with Anton Kersjes at the Maastricht Conservatory. From 1981 to 1990 he worked as a freelance pianist for the orchestras and the choir of the Dutch radio. Then he decided to dedicate himself entirely to composing.

Ever since 1981 Comitas has been writing his music almost exclusively in commission. He wrote an orchestral overture on the occasion of the opening of the Enschede Music Centre in 1988 (which he later reworked for wind orchestra); for the opening season of the Eindhoven Frits Philips Music Centre (1992) he wrote the cantata “The Wedding of the Moon and Sun”; and he composed his first violin concerto for the opening of the Tilburg Concert Hall, in 1996. For the Eureka conference of European ministers in Rotterdam (1991) he wrote the Fantasy Overture “Eureka!”. To date he has written two symphonies, subtitled “From Etty Hillesums Diary” and “From the Song of Songs”.

His first piece for orchestra “Homage to Dmitri Shostakovich” (1978) has been performed many times by many orchestras, and so has the version for wind orchestra, prepared by Frans Scheepers in 1996. The piece sounded in Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Rotterdam (De Doelen), Bayreuth (Stadthalle), Londen (Royal Albert Hall) en Saint-Petersburg (Shostakovich Philharmony), to name but a few places.

Up till now Comitas has written several compositions for wind orchestra; a.o. two Armenian Rhapsodies and, commissioned by the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, “A Night on Culbin Sands”. Armenian Rhapsody Nr. I served as a compulsory piece during the First Open Dutch Championship for concert level wind orchestras, in Kerkrade in 1995. “A Night on Culbin Sands” was selected to serve as a compulsory piece for concert level wind orchestras, during the 2001 World Music Contest in Kerkrade. In 2007, he received a commission to write an opera with wind orchestra, for the 2009 World Music Contest.

In July 2000 Comitas made his debut as a conductor of his own music in the Cheremetjevsky Palace, Saint Petersburg. As an arranger, he made among other things a free adaptation of Richard Rodgers’ The Sound of Music, for the Dutch National Tour 2002 – 2003 of Joop van den Ende Theaterproducties.

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