Matthijs van Dijk is a composer, arranger and violinist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Van Dijk has written several commissions for chamber ensembles and orchestras such as the Carnegie Hall-affiliated Decoda Ensemble, I Musicanti & Peter Donohoe, the LGT Young Soloists, and the Signum Quartet. Performances have taken place at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Amsterdam String Quartet Biennale, St John’s Smith Square, and the Pierre Boulez Saal among others. A performance of his quartet movement “(rage) rage against the” has been scheduled at Carnegie Hall for May 2023.
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, and in 2020 was musical director for the award-winning show “Karen Zoid: 20 jaar pops” with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the Toyota US Woordfees. His orchestral arrangements have been regularly featured since 2007 at symphonic pops concerts, such as Starlight Classics and South Africa’s “Last Night Of The Proms”.
Van Dijk’s orchestral works include performances by the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the Free State Symphony Orchestra, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as several youth orchestras, including the University of Cape Town’s Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble, the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival Symphony Orchestra, and the South African National Youth Orchestra.
In 2016, as Composer-In-Residence at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, van Dijk collaborated with Rivonia trialist and freedom fighter Denis Goldberg. Their piece “Moments In A Life” was premiered by an ensemble of leading 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. Their version of Plaatjies’ “Ndiyahamba” was included in Darkroom Contemporary’s “deus::ex::machina”, with performances at the 2020 Vrystaat Kunstefees Snelstroom, and the 2022 Makhanda National Arts Festival. Other dance productions include “META|morph” for the 2020 Online National Arts Festival, and “memoryhouse”, as part of the South African State Theatre’s Kucheza Afrika Festival in 2021, both together with Darkroom Contemporary, as well as “The Body”, with Zanele Ndlovu and Jessica Nupen, written for the launch of Denis Goldberg’s “House Of Hope” Arts and Education Centre.
In 2014 van Dijk 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 2014 Palm Springs International Short Film Festival “Best Of The Fest” winner “Can’t Touch This”), library music for 78 short films for M-Net West Africa, as well as the multiple award-winning short film “Loot” (2012). Film work as an orchestrator and conductor includes Matt Nicholson’s soundtrack for the BBC’s “Africa’s Trees Of Life” (2016), and Philip Miller’s “Catch A Fire” (2006), directed by Phillip Noyce. Other studio work includes arrangements for amaFranx’s 2020 SAMA Award nominated album “In The Kingdom of the Aloës”.
As a violinist, van Dijk co-founded The ShhArt Ensemble (also known as The Night Light Collective) with Galina Juritz, Sarah Evans and Nicola du Toit, (who were later joined by Cara Stacey). This chamber music ensemble is made up of composers dedicated to writing and performing new South African art music, with performances including the 2018 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, the 2019 Jazz and Classical Encounters Festival at Spier Wine Farm, and the 2019 Makhanda National Arts Festival. In 2019 van Dijk launched his podcast “The South African Composers Archive”, an aural archive of the South African New Music scene. This became a bi-weekly series for the online radio station Ham Shack Radio in 2021.