Joey Roukens

Netherlands, March 28, 1982


His output includes orchestral works, ensemble works, chamber music, solo instrumental works and an opera. In his music Roukens strives to move away from modernist ways of thinking in search for a more eclectic and more direct idiom, without reverting to some naive neo-style. In doing so, the composer doesn’t shy away from the use of triads, tonal or diatonic harmonies, a regular rhythmic pulse, directness of expression, simplicity, references to popular music and vernacular culture, ‘stealing’ from the musical heritage of the past and the odd trivial turn.


In most of his works, Roukens seeks to organically integrate elements from highly diverse influences and aesthetics - including the orchestral vibrancy of early Stravinsky and Ravel, the late-Romantic gestures of Mahler and Sibelius, the pulsating rhythms of American minimalism, the serenity of Renaissance polyphony, as well as certain kinds of pop music and jazz. Not because Roukens cannot choose, but because he feels they are all part of the musical air he breathes. For a long time, Roukens was also active in pop music.

His works have been performed by major ensembles and soloists at home and abroad, such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra dell’Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, ASKO|Schönberg, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Britten Sinfonia, Tokyo Sinfonietta, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, Ralph van Raat, Colin Currie and Lucas & Arthur Jussen.

Notable compositions include ‘Rising Phenix’ (2014), a large scale cantata for mixed chorus and orchestra written to celebrate the re-opening of the revovated TivoliVredenburg concert hall in Utrecht; a two-movement violin concerto ‘Roads to Everywhere’ (2015) written for violinist Joseph Puglia and ASKO|Schönberg; the orchestral work ‘Morphic Waves’ (2015), which has received several successful international performances; ‘Boundless’ (2016), a vibrant homage to Leonard Bernstein (on the centennial of his birth) for string orchestra, harp, keyboards and percussion, which was commissioned and premiered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and subsequently performed by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert; a double piano concerto called ‘In Unison’ (2017), written for the celebrated young Dutch piano duo Lucas & Arthur Jussen, a work which was met with great public and critical acclaim; the String Quartet No. 4 ‘What Remains’ (2019), written for the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam; ‘Dorian’ (2020, rev. 2022), an evening-length ballet in two acts; ‘Distorted Fantasia (after J.P. Sweelinck)’ (2021), written for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Sweelinck’s death; the acclaimed ‘Symphony No. 1 (Kaleidoscopic)’ (2021) and a hour-long ‘Requiem’ (2022) for mixed chorus, percussion and strings, written for the Bosch Requiem series of the new music festival November Music.


Joey Roukens was born in Schiedam, the Netherlands, in 1982. Roukens studied composition at the Rotterdam Conservatory and psychology at Leiden University. Roukens also studied piano privately with Ton Hartsuiker.

Live performances of Joey Roukens’s works

Symphony No 1 'Kaleidoskopic'

Joey Roukens on Spotify

Joey Roukens on SoundCloud

Recently published works by Joey Roukens