Amsterdam Sinfonietta (AS)
- Gustav Mahler Festival Amsterdam 1995 (as Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam)
- Gustav Mahler Festival Amsterdam 2020
Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a Dutch string orchestra with Amsterdam as its home base. The ensemble was founded in 1988 under the name Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam by a group of young musicians. Since 2003 it has been directed by concertmaster and also artistic director Candida Thompson (1967), but there is performance without a conductor.
During the first years after its founding, the ensemble was led by conductor and artistic director Lev Markiz. He introduced the ensemble to modern Russian composers Alfred Schnittke, Dmitri Shostakovich and Edison Denisov. The ensemble also played new pieces (world premieres) of Dutch and foreign composers.
From 1998 Peter Oundjian became artistic director, former first violinist of the Tokyo Quartet. He did both projects with typical works for string orchestra (such as works for double string orchestra, large string quartets, and special solo concerts), he also let the orchestra play classical symphonies. Oundjian also conducted new commission compositions.
From the season 2003-2004 Candida Thompson is the artistic leader. She has been concertmaster of the ensemble since 1995. The orchestra has been working without a conductor since her performance, and thus more from the ensemble playing and chamber music-like approach, for which the orchestra was originally founded.
The ensemble consists of 22 strings: six first violins, six second violins, four violas, four cello, two double basses.
The repertoire of Amsterdam Sinfonietta is broad, from baroque music to contemporary music. The ensemble sometimes performs with guest players (for example, wind players) in chamber orchestral arrangements and it also regularly plays non-classical music. Amsterdam Sinfonietta often plays edits. Thus much chamber music is played in multiple occupation. Conversely, symphonic music is often adapted for smaller ensembles.
The ensemble regularly brings world premieres and writes assignments. Amsterdam Sinfonietta played premieres by, among others, Jörg Widmann, Thomas Larcher, John Zorn, Sofia Goebaidoelina, Bryce Dessner and Michel van der Aa.
Amsterdam Sinfonietta made tours to, among others, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Soviet Union. They played in South Africa at the invitation of Queen Beatrix in 1996 at a concert for Nelson Mandela and invited guests. They returned in 2001 for a second tour and workshops to children. In 2002 the ensemble played in the Cité de la Musique in Paris. Amsterdam Sinfonietta played at Barbican Hall (London), The National Center of Performing Arts (Beijing) and the Konzerthaus (Vienna). In 2017 the ensemble debuted in South America, with a tour through Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Chile.
With the label BIS the complete string symphonies and solo concerts by Felix Mendelssohn are recorded. In 2001, the late string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven were recorded under the direction of Peter Oundjian. Since 2004, Amsterdam Sinfonietta has released CDs with Channel Classics Records.
The ensemble was led by guest conductors such as Iona Brown, Thierry Fischer, Valery Gergiev, Roy Goodman, Christopher Hogwood, Reinbert the Leeuw, Viktor Liberman, Gennadi Rozhdestvenski, Etienne Siebens and Murray Perahia.
Soloists who played with the ensemble include , Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, Menahem Pressler, R the Brodsky Quartet, Isaac Stern, Ronald Brautigam, Isabelle van Keulen, Jard van Nes, Bart Schneemann, Pieter Wispelwey, Thomas Hampson (1955), Barbara Hannigan, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Janine Jansen and Lavinia Meijer.
The Amsterdam Sinfonietta participated in the 'Carte Blanche' concerts in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw: in 1995 for Reinbert de Leeuw (in Gruppen by Karlheinz Stockhausen), in 1998 for Thomas Hampson and in 2003 for Murray Perahia. In 1999, Igor Stravinsky's Biblical Pieces played in a production by De Nederlandse Opera in the direction of Peter Sellars.
From 2017 the ensemble will work structurally with the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Every sermon around ten Master students get the chance to rehearse, go on tour with Amsterdam Sinfonietta and get to know the way of working without a conductor.
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