Guillermo Lago

Guillermo Lago (1960) is musician Willem van Merwijk’s composing alter ego. At the age of 46 in the midst of a career as a performing musician and arranger he discovered this new way of expressing his musical ideas and step by step composing has become his mainstay.
Lago’s work is being performed all over the world, to be found on numerous cd’s and on streaming platforms. He receives commissions from a wide array of (chamber music) ensembles, orchestras, choirs etc. from both within the Netherlands and abroad. Yet he does not only compose on commission but also devotes time to compositions of his own wish, and – being self-taught – develop ideas in complete freedom.

It started in an emergency situation: the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet had a cd recording and long series of concerts planned with bandoneonplayer Ville Hiltula and pianist Juan-Pablo Dobal. A program dedicated to the ‘concert tango’ 10 years after the death of Astor Piazzolla. Commissions were given to composers (mainly from Argentina) but two months before the live recording of the cd quite a few composers had surpassed the deadline (not uncommon with composers…:) and a problematic situation was imminent. Then in a bright moment I became aware of the fact that I had quite some ideas on how this ‘Tango after A.P.’ might sound. And started writing down my ideas. When it came to the recording and concert tour I decided to ‘hide’ myself behind a Spanish pseudonym: Guillermo Lago (sort of spanish translation of Willem van Merwijk). This turned out to be a good choice, no one knew that I was G. Lago and audiences would react freely to my music. But even more importantly the name felt comfortable and connectable to my music. These were the (almost) last tangos I wrote by the way…

Slowly by slowly colleagues found out I had cautiously started composing and asked me to write for them. In this period and all over the first years of my composing career my friend saxophonist Ties Mellema was very important for me. I wrote almost ten pieces for him in various combinations (with piano, string quintet, symphony orchestra, choir, saxophone quartet….) and he was a great advocate for my music. Another great friend and advocate in those budding years was bass trombone player Brandt Attema and his wife harp player Astrid Haring.

Then in 2010 I wrote (for Ties and his Amstel Quartet) a suite called ‘Ciudades’ (Cities). That suite became a world wide hit and is now considered a standard piece in the saxophone quartet repertoire. I am very happy that I have been able to contribute to the repertoire of my beloved ensemble and instrument in this way. It did create a lot of interest for my music and after this many requests and commissions followed, in a wider circle than my own friends and colleagues, and also from outside the Netherlands.

From that time on composing became more and more leading in my professional life and I have now at 61 reached the stage where it has become my main way to contribute to the world of music. I have written lots of music for wind instruments and recently I am focusing more on writing for strings and voices. Feel free to check out the sheet music pages and webshop….. and to connect to me. I highly appreciate that!

New music is necessary to keep the art form alive! Yet at the time I started composing new say ‘contemporary’ music had completely lost its connection to a larger audience. In the course of my performing career I witnessed a steady decline of interest in compositions of composers still alive and almost only in seclusion (festivals for contemporary music, academic circles) was their music being performed. These ‘reserves’ for contemporary music with an audience consisting of mainly composers and musicians are definitely important for the survival of new art and provide the possibility for experiment and adventure. Nothing wrong with that!

However after more than 20 years on stage my goal was rather to create music that would be intelligent, new and yet understandable for a somewhat wider audience. And also practical, not too long, combinable with already existing music etcetera. All this remaining true to my own ideas and writing in complete freedom. Up to you, performers and audiences world-wide to decide if I was able to realise that goal….

PS. not unimportantly things have changed since I started composing: a new generation of very talented young composers seems to be aware of the above mentioned dilemma and to be able to raise a wider interest than the previous generation.

List of countries where Lago’s music was performed

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Great-Britain
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • India, Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kroatia
  • Kosovo
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Montenegro
  • the Netherlands
  • New-Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland, Portugal
  • Roumania, Russia
  • Serbia, Singapore
  • Slovakia, Slovenia
  • South-Africa
  • South-Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine
  • USA
  • Adnan Cico
  • Alexander Verbeek
  • Amstel Kwartet
  • Ana Moura
  • André Heuvelman
  • Anna May van der Feen
  • Arno Bornkamp
  • Aurelia Saxofoon Kwartet
  • Banda da Armada (Portugal)
  • Banda Sinfonica Municipal de Alicante
  • Bart Schneemann
  • Belma Kahrović
  • Bert Wagendorp
  • Brandt Attema
  • Carlos Gimenez Martinez
  • Cheng String Quartet
  • Chimaera Trio
  • Club Classique
  • Codarts Brass
  • Croatian Radio & Television Orchestra
  • Dorian Cooke
  • Duo Haring/Attema
  • Duo Ostinato (Geiss – Aupy)
  • Duo Sax & Stix
  • Elle Quartet
  • En Accord Strijkkwartet
  • Esma Sulejmanagić
  • Fanfare Kempenbloei, Achel
  • Femke IJlstra
  • Ferio Quartet
  • Frank van der Laar
  • Fukio Quartet
  • Hans van Eijsackers
  • Hans-Erik Dijkstra
  • Internationaal Kamermuziekfestival Schiermonnikoog
  • Ivo Janssen
  • Jaume Gavilan Agullo
  • JONG (nu TenToonEnsemble)
  • JongJongNBE
  • JongNBE
  • Jörgen van Rijen
  • Juan Pablo Dobal
  • Juani Palop
  • Julian Schneemann
  • Karin Strobos
  • Kim Hoogvliet
  • Koninklijke Fanfare Eensgezindheid Maasbracht Beek
  • Manon Vermeer
  • Marinierskapel der Koninklijke Marine
  • Nationaal Kinderkoor
  • N(ew)A(sterdam)K(larinet)K(wartet)
  • NDR Big Band
  • Nederlands Blazers Ensemble
  • New Trombone Collective
  • Niels Bijl
  • Orfeó Universitari de València
  • Orlando Wind Quintet
  • Otto Mani Saxofoonkwartet Competitie
  • Peter Prommel
  • Philharmonie Amsterdam
  • Pieternel Berkers
  • Sax & Stix
  • SAX2014
  • Shira Majoni
  • Signum Kwartet
  • Sweelinck Orkest Amsterdam
  • Syrène Kwartet
  • Tanja van den Eijnden
  • Ties Mellema
  • Utrechtse Studenten Cantorij
  • Ville Hiltula
  • Wilmar de Visser
  • Winds Of Change
  • World Saxophone Congress 2019 Zagreb
  • Xabier Oruesagasti
  • Yvon Arts

Discography