Matthijs van Dijk is a composer and arranger, as well as an active chamber and orchestral musician based in Cape Town, South Africa. Van Dijk has written several commissions for numerous chamber ensembles and orchestras, such as the Carnegie Hall affiliated Decoda Ensemble, I Musicanti & Peter Donohoe, the LGT Young Soloists, Naomi Sullivan, and the Signum Quartet.
In 2003 van Dijk won the Priaulx Rainer Prize for composition and in 2006 he was the recipient of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship for Composition. In 2005 he received a Kanna Award nomination for his work with Karen Zoid and the Sontonga Quartet at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees.
In 2016, as Composer-In-Residence at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, van Dijk collaborated with Rivonia trialist and freedom fighter Denis Goldberg with their piece Moments In A Life, which was premiered by an ensemble of leading local South African and international performers with Goldberg himself narrating. In 2018, van Dijk was Co-Composer-In-Residence at the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, sharing the residency with long-time collaborator Lungiswa Plaatjies.
Having been active in the film industry since 2005, in 2014 he formed the South African Film Orchestra in collaboration with Simon Ratcliffe and Sound & Motion Studios, as a vehicle to promote and record soundtracks in South Africa. Van Dijk’s soundtrack work includes commercials, short films launching the Welsh and English rugby mascots, the animated series Jungle Beat (such as the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival “Best Of The Fest” winner “Can’t Touch This”), 80 short films for M-Net West Africa, as well as the award-winning short film Loot. Outside of his own music, van Dijk has worked as an orchestrator on soundtracks for two episodes of the BBC documentaries Africa’s Trees Of Life (music by Matt Nicholson), the short-film Tumbleweed (music by Josh Wynter) and Philip Noyce’s Catch A Fire (music by Philip Miller). Since 2005, van Dijk has been involved with the annual South African Horrorfest, performing live soundtracks to classic silent movies, such as The Phantom of the Opera (2005), Nosferatu (2006) and Metropolis (2012), collaborating with members of rock-groups Lark and Terminatryx as the Makabra Ensemble. Other silent film work includes co-founding PhotoPlay with flautist Louisa Theart in 2019, a chamber ensemble promoting new South African composers by performing new soundtracks for short silent movies.
As a violinist, van Dijk co-founded The Night Light Collective (formerly The ShhArt Ensemble) with Galina Juritz, Sarah Evans and Nicola du Toit, a chamber music ensemble made up of composers dedicated to writing and performing new South African art music. Performances include launching Biblioteek Productions’ “Co/Mission” concert series, the 2015 TEDx in Cape Town (with Mr Sakitumi & The Grrrl and Inge Beckman), and “VOMO”, with Juliana Venter, Cara Stacey and The Motorcycle Orchestra. As an ensemble with a flexible configuration of players, it has collaborated with artists such as Lungiswa Plaatjies, Larissa Johnson, Brydon Bolton and Nicky Schrire, including performances at the 2018 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, the 2018 ALTERnatives Festival, and the 2019 Makhanda National Arts Festival.
In 2019 van Dijk launched his ongoing podcast “The South African Composers Archive”, a series in which he asks South African composers/improvisors the same eleven questions in an attempt to create an aural archive of the South African New Music scene, while showcasing the incredibly varied musical voices the country has to offer.