Mathieu Daniël Polak Polak studied piano with Alwin Bar and Ton Hartsuiker at the Conservatory of Utrecht and graduated in 1997. After this he studied carillon at the Netherlands Carillon School in Amersfoort, where he obtained his Master's degree in 2000, specializing in carillon education. Since then he has been a teacher at the Netherlands Carillon Center in Amersfoort.
Mathieu won prizes for carillon playing at international carillon competitions in Hamburg (Germany) and Enkhuizen (Netherlands). He has given carillon recitals in Japan, Denmark, Portugal, France, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania and the United States.
In 2003 he became carillonneur in Spakenburg and since 2008 he has been permanent carillonneur at Erasmus University Rotterdam. From May 5, 2022 he will also be the carillonneur of Plein 40-45 in Amsterdam. In June 2023 he was appointed one of the carillonneurs of Nieuwegein.
Mathieu obtained Masters in Composition at the Lemmensinstituut Leuven, Belgium (2013) and at the Utrecht School of the Arts (2010). He also studied with Jeff Hamburg and Jeroen D'hoe. Mathieu's composition "Fleurs de Cerisier" (Cherry Blossom) for wind quintet won third prize at the Coma Maastricht in 2011 and "Puppy Love" for horn was awarded third prize at the composition competition IVME Antwerp 2011. His carillon piece "Dandelion Field" was awarded second prize at the Johan Franco composition competition 2017. His work "A Butterfly's Dance" won first prize at the Johan Franco Composition Competition in 20 19. With a scholarship in 2019 from the Performing Arts Fund, Mathieu composed and arranged works based on Jewish music for carillon called "Chag Sameach". Its premiere on the carillon of the Westertoren in Amsterdam was on May 7, 2019 and was performed by carillonneur Boudewijn Zwart. Mathieu received the prestigious Visser Neerlandia Prize on March 1, 2020 for "Chag Sameach".
He also teaches piano at the Muziekschool Amersfoort, is a private teacher in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Netherlands) and pianist at the Liberal Jewish Community in Amsterdam. Mathieu Daniël Polak composes on commission for many, if not every, occasion.
VISSER NEERLANDIA AWARD
On February 1, 2020, Mathieu Daniël Polak received the Visser-Neerlandia Award for his carillon suite "Chag Sameach" at the town hall of Turnhout, Belgium.
The Visser-Neerlandia Prize is named after Herman Lodewijk Alexander Visser (Amersfoort 24 April 1872 - Deventer 28 May 1943). He was a Jewish philosopher and jurist who chose suicide rather than be killed in a concentration camp during World War II. He donated half of his assets to the Algemeen Nederlands Verbond, which formed the fund for the Visser-Neerlandia Award.
The jury: ''Mathieu Daniël Polak does groundbreaking work in composing and arranging carillon music. By using non-Western musical elements in his compositions and arrangements, he contributes to creative and innovative changes in the 'carillon landscape'. He adds these innovations to the existing traditional and stylistic forms of carillon music, a tradition with a history of more than 500 years.
In "Chag Sameach" (wishing joyful and good holidays) the Jewish holidays are central, such as Purim, Pesach, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The laudatio was pronounced by Boudewijn Zwart, carillonneur, organist and pianist. Boudewijn praised the work of Mathieu Daniel Polak: ''The compositions are really written by a carilloneur. The pieces can be studied quickly and performed flawlessly with ease. His music is accessible to a large audience. It's great that a book has been published with Jewish music."
The letters of recommendation for the presentation of the Visser-Neerlandia Prize were written by: Prof. Dr. Ofer ben Amots, Prof. Dr. Jeroen D'hoe, Prof. Dr. Etty Mulder, composer Jeff Hamburg, flautist Eleonore Pameijer, Dr. Leo Samama and Dr. Luc Rombouts.
In his word of thanks, Mathieu Daniël Polak indicated how important it is that all Dutch people are welcomed by the carillon, including and certainly also the new Dutch people. He hopes that other composers and arrangers will feel invited to create carillon music with elements from Indonesian, Surinamese, Arabic and Chinese, for example.
Prior to the ceremony, the carillonneurs Georg Wagner, Ariane Toffel and Christian Michel played "Chag Sameach" on the carillon of the Pieterstoren in Turnhout, Belgium.