Roland van Straaten is from a swiss-dutch family. He studied composition, musical theory and classical guitar at the conservatories in Zurich and Geneva. He was acquainted with other cultures at an early age, spending long periods in the United States and Italy, and traveling widely outside Europe.
He started his career as singer-songwriter with songs that where written in Swiss German, reflecting Roland van Straaten's wish to relate to the language that is spoken in his native town.
Most of Straaten's work is underpinned by the harmonica, for which he has developed a playing technique that has released the instrument from its usual restraints. Straaten won several prizes and distinctions for his work, including the "Special Award for Outstanding Performance" at the First World Harmonica Championships on Jersey (Channel Islands).
Performance and Composition
He has performed as a soloist on many projects in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Israel, Brazil, the United States and the Caribbean. His compositions include scores for musicals, ballet, theater and film.
Blues Harp Concerto Nr.1
Commissioned by the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zurich, he wrote the "Blues Harp Concerto No.1" (for harmonica and orchestra) on the occasion of the centennial season 1995/96. The work was first performed in 2005 at the Tonhalle Zurich with the Zurich Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Wolfgang Czeipek.