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Amsterdam Sinfonietta


1988 - current


classical, contemporary classical music


Officiële website

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

The Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a string orchestra, its basic formation comprising six first violins, five second violins, three violas, four cellos, and two double basses. The Scottish violinist Candida Thompson is its artistic director and concertmaster. The ensemble has a broad repertoire ranging from Baroque to 21st-century music. Light music ...
Full biography


Candida Thompson   dirigent, viool
Arnieke Beilschmidt-Ehrlich   viool
Nicoline van Santen   viool
Karen Segal   viool
Jacobien Rozemond   viool
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Former members

Lev Markiz   dirigent
Peter Oundjian   dirigent

Mentioned in the biography of

1972   Willem Frederik Bon
1988   Anna Magdalena den Herder
1990   Marius Beets
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Biography Amsterdam Sinfonietta

The Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a string orchestra, its basic formation comprising six first violins, five second violins, three violas, four cellos, and two double basses. The Scottish violinist Candida Thompson is its artistic director and concertmaster. The ensemble has a broad repertoire ranging from Baroque to 21st-century music. Light music also plays a significant role in its programming. The orchestra is notable for its chamber-music-like approach to scores and strong communication between the musicians. Since its founding in 1988 as the Nieuw Sinfonietta – a name later expanded to Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam – the ensemble has become recognized worldwide as one of the leading string orchestras.


The cellist Maarten Mostert puts together what for him is the ideal type of ensemble: a string orchestra capable of meeting every qualitative demand. He invites the Russian conductor Lev Markiz to lead this orchestra, which is called the Nieuw Sinfonietta. Under Markiz, it soon carves out a place for itself in Dutch musical life. It stands apart particularly for adding music by the then not so well-known contemporary Russian composers Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov to its repertoire.


At its first performance in the Recital Hall of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the string orchestra wins over the audience and press alike with its intense ensemble-playing and arrangements of string quartets by Dimitry Shostakovich. It is also scores a success at Utrecht's Vredenburg Hall. Room is made for it on the next season's programming.


The BIS label releases the string orchestra's first CD, entirely dedicated to the music of Edison Denisov. For a CD with Shostakovich's 'Chamber Symphony' op 110a and op. 118a, it receives an Edison award.


BIS releases a CD of early string symphonies by Mendelssohn, the first in a series of what to this day remain the definitive recordings of string symphonies and solo concertos by this composer.


The Scottish violinist Candida Thompson is named concertmaster. Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam forms the string core of Stockhausen's 'Gruppen' in the Carte Blanche concerts – in which artists are given carte blanche to compile a concert series – programmed by Reinbert de Leeuw in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.


On Queen Beatrix's invitation, the orchestra performs a private concert in South Africa for Nelson Mandela and guests.


Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam sets up Frank Martin Day, in which a number of concerts related to the Swiss composer's work are given. The event focuses attention on Martin's music and is an enormous success.


Bohuslav Martinů Day, another Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam initiative, is as succesful as was Frank Martin Day. The orchestra reaches a turning point. Markiz, the conductor who led it to prominence, resigns. The orchestra chooses to build on a musicianship culture and appoints as its conductor the Canadian Peter Oundjian, former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet. Oundjian concentrates on the classical and early Romantic repertoire. The orchestra performs in Thomas Hampson's Carte Blanche series at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.


In April the orchestra performs in the Dutch premiere of Philippe Boesmans' opera 'Reigen', in a Nationale Reisopera production. In December, it is in the orchestra pit at de Nederlandse Opera for the Peter Sellars production of 'Biblical Pieces', featuring works by Stravinsky.


During the Vocal Festival, the orchestra comes to the forefront as an ensemble that can perform without a conductor. The soloist Thomas Hampson serves as mentor during rehearsals for a performance of Mahler's 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn'.

2001 - 2002

The orchestra returns to South Africa for an extensive tour and to hold various workshops for children. At the Holland Festival, the orchestra, conducted by Micha Hamel, performs several premieres of works by young Dutch composers. In the following year, it makes its debut at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.


The orchestra introduces its Breder dan Klassiek [More than Classical] tour, in which it plays a series of New Year's concerts with performers not associated with classical music. The first is with Trijntje Oosterhuis. In the following years come The Houdinis and Bobby McFerrin. The orchestra names Candida Thompson artistic director. The idea is to continue without a conductor, inviting one only for projects where a conductor seems necessary. As it has become clear that the relationship with Oundjian has not delivered the hoped for results, the concertmaster now serves as the orchestra's leader. Upon departing, Oundjian says of the new situation: “Playing more without a conductor is incredibly helpful for the ensemble-playing. The musicians want to be asked to play their best. That is also the beauty of this orchestra: The intense ensemble-playing reminds me of playing as first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet. It is a sort of magic that is hard to find in any orchestra.” Underscoring the change of course, the orchestra changes its name to the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The first Sinfonietta String Festival is held – since then an annual event – with Gennady Rozhdestvensky as special guest. At the Amsterdam Concertgebouw's invitation, the orchestra performs in Murray Perahia's Carte Blanche concert series.

2006 - 2009

For the Breder dan Klassiek New Year's concerts, the orchestra makes a lengthy tour with the Portuguese fado singer Cristina Branco; for the 2008 'Breder dan Klassiek' tour it works with the violinist Roby Lakatos; and for the 2009 'Breder dan Klassiek' New Year's concert, it works with Karin Bloemen. The 'Bohemian Album' CD, with music by the Czech composers Antonin Dvořák, Pavel Haas and Erwin Schulhoff, is released in May and is well-received by critics.


The orchestra works with Wende Snijders in the 'Breder dan Klassiek' tour. An ambitious multimedia concert – in which the cellist Sol Gabetta, actor Jeroen Willems and director Pierre Audi participate – is programmed for the 2010-2011. The orchestra brings this performance to six prominent European concert halls.

Discography Amsterdam Sinfonietta

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

Photos Amsterdam Sinfonietta

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