What do you get when you pair genre-defying Dutch composer Michel van der Aa with a musical chameleon like Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke? A quick survey of their previous encounters might prompt answers like “an opera”, a “song cycle”, or even “a video installation”, but in this instance the correct answer would appear to be “a pop album”. Or is it? In fact, Time Fallingis best probably best appreciated by anyone who hates labels.

Kate Miller-Heidke and Michel van der Aa. Photo © Jo Duck (left) and Sarah Wijzenbeek (right)

Van der Aa has immaculate credentials as an innovative composer of contemporary opera, but his back catalogue is revealing. From his first opera, Vuur, composed in 2001 for solo voice, actors, singers, ensemble and soundtrack, to his fifth opera, Sunken Garden, which included both soundtrack and film (and coincidentally starred Miller-Heidke), he’s looked to incorporate a diverse range of electronic and recorded media to reflect his idea of opera in the 21st century. More recently, he’s taken music and technology – plus his relationship with Miller-Heidke – to the next level with his digital interactive song cycle The Book of Sand,...

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