The music of Van der Aa has been performed by ensembles and orchestras internationally. Those includes the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble, Freiburger Barockorchester, Ensemble Modern, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, De Nederlandse Opera, Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, Seattle Chamber Players, Ensemble Nomad Tokyo, musikFabrik, Continuum Ensemble Toronto, SWR Orchestra Baden-Baden & Freiburg, Netherlands Radio Orchestras, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra Sweden, and the Helsinki Avanti Ensemble.
He completed a short program in film directing at the New York Film Academy in 2002. He also participated in the Lincoln Center Theater Director's Lab, a short intensive course in stage direction in 2007.
Michel van der Aa's music theatre works, including the chamber opera One (2002), the opera After Life (2006, Amsterdam) and the music theatre work "The Book of Disquiet", have received international critical and public acclaim. The innovative aspect of these operas is their use of film images and sampled soundtracks as an essential element of the score. Staging, film and music are interwoven into a collage of transparent layers, resulting in a work that is part documentary film, part philosophy.
He directed the television production of One for the Dutch national broadcasting company NPS. Passage (2004), a short film by van der Aa, has been shown at several international festivals and has been aired on Dutch national television.
He has been a featured artist at the Perth Tura New Music Festival and Holland Festival. He has collaborated with choreographers such as Kazuko Hirabayashi, Philippe Blanchard, Ben Wright and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
Van der Aa was recipient of the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 1999. He also received the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Award for One in 2004. He received the Siemens Composers Prize in 2005. He also received the Charlotte Köhler Prize for his directing work and the interdisciplinary character of his oeuvre in the same year. He was awarded the Paul Hindemith Prize in 2006.
Van der Aa is currently working on a revised version of his successful 2006 opera After Life in preparation for the upcoming revival by De Nederlandse Opera in September 2009 and by Opera de Lyon in March 2010. In May 2010 it will be presented semi-staged at the Barbican Centre in London.
His music is recorded on the Harmonia Mundi, Col Legno, Composers’ Voice, BVHaast, and VPRO Eigenwijs labels.