The Cello Biennale Amsterdam is a ten day long international music festival revolving around the cello. With over 100 events in every space of the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ and the Bimhuis, the Cello Biennale Amsterdam forms a meeting place and source of inspiration for cellists and music lovers from all over the world.
The core of the festival programme is formed by classical music, but many connections are made with music from other cultures, pop, jazz, and impro.
The National Cello Competition is an important and exciting part of the festival. The competition inspires and stimulates young top talent in playing for an international jury and audience. The educational programme Hello Cello is aimed at introducing children and teenagers to the cello, teaching them to play together, and promoting classical music on elementary schools. The Hello Cello Orchestra consists of 160 children and teenagers playing together.
Outside the festival period, the Cello Biennale organizes various activities all across the country, such as concerts by laureates of the competition, the Hello Cello Days in four Dutch cities, and the Cello & Film festival in EYE. In the year preceding the festival, the Sneak Preview takes place in the Muziekgebouw, where a taste of the following festival programme is given.
Because of the new corona measures that were announced on October 13, the Cello Biënnale 2020 cannot take place in its original form.
The Nationaal Cello Concours will take place (without audience) and the Biënnale will present a new online festival from 23–30 October together with the Dutch broadcast organization NTR. This online festival is completely dedicated to Dutch top cellists.
Until very recently, the presentation of the full festival program still seemed to be possible. The musicians from The Netherlands and abroad all wanted to come and play and the audience wanted to be there: at a furious pace all available tickets were sold out. Because of the restrictive and protective measures as they are now proclaimed, the Cello Biënniale 2020 can no longer take place as planned. The audience has been reduced to a very low maximum of 30 people per performance and travelling is discouraged. In this circumstance, the Cello Biënniale as it was set up is no longer realistic.
But....we don't leave it at that! From 23 to 30 October, the Cello Biennale Online will take place, completely dedicated to Dutch top cellists.
Eight days in a row, live performances will be streamed from the Muziekgebouw and the BIMHUIS by the top of the Dutch cello world at 14:00 and 20:15. The performances are without an audience and the streams are free of charge. The National Cello Competition will also take place and can be followed via a live stream.
On Monday, October 19, we will announce the full program.
The Cello Takes Over!
Unnoticed, many cellists have been playing famous sonatas and other repertoires that weren’t originally intended to be played on cello. Take, for example, Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata or Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro – two well-known ‘cello pieces’, right? Actually, they’re both arrangements.
Even in Bach and Vivaldi’s time, rearranging your own or other people’s works was the most natural thing in the world. Later on, too, composers would often rearrange their own works or would have their students or fellow composers do this for them. Consequently, original works would appear in many versions – mainly for smaller ensembles than the original, but also in a simplified form. Rearranging was the ideal way to get your music played more often and to earn extra money.
Admittedly, the repertoire for cello simply isn’t as large as that for violin, piano or voice, which is why cellists love ‘borrowing’ and playing from their fellow instrumentalists’ repertoires, i.e. not merely for altruistic motives. Yet the cello’s huge range and exquisite timbre mean it can produce so many different colours and affect such a wide range of emotions that many cello arrangements sound more beautiful than the originals.
This is one reason this year’s Cello Biennale Amsterdam will be diving into the world of the ‘arrangement’, in every form imaginable – from early to ultramodern.
Exciting stuff! So, what will Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sound like revamped for cello octet? How about the aria ‘Remember Me’ from Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas rearranged for cello quintet? Or ‘Adagietto’ from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 rewritten for twelve cellos?
You’ll be hearing violin sonatinas and sonatas by Brahms, Dvořák, Ravel and Schubert, and getting up-close and personal with the works of Chopin, whose lyrical and romantic style suits the cello so perfectly. Composers and cellists, including Davidov, Franchomme, Glazunov and Piatigorsky, were quick to rearrange many of his nocturnes, preludes and waltzes.
And during Cello Biennale 2020, we’ll be including other special arrangements, too. We can’t wait to hear how the cello tackles pop music from North America, music from the Caribbean and a piece for guitar and orchestra from South America.
Brought to you by an army of leading arrangers and cellists including David Dramm, Marijn van Prooijen, Mladen Miloradovic, Wijnand van Klaveren and Adrian Williams. Let us know afterwards if you think there were actually any arpeggiones playing!
The Next Generation | Kronberg Academy
Many talented young cellists from around the world debut at the Cello Biennale Amsterdam. Often, most of the major international competitions have already been won or are about to be won.
At the Biennale, you’ll be able to hear laureates from the foremost international cello competitions held in countries such as Japan, Korea and the USA and cities such as Brussels (Queen Elisabeth Competition), Geneva, Helsinki, St Petersburg (International Tchaikovsky Competition) and Warsaw.
The National Cello Competition has served as a springboard to future international careers for many a laureate, including Harriet Krijgh, Jonathan Roozeman, Anton Mecht Spronk and Alexander Warenberg.
The Kronberg Academy is a leading German institute where many talented young cellists from around the world have completed their musical education under the guidance of the likes of Frans Helmerson, Gary Hoffman and Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt.
The Kronberg Academy and the Cello Biennale Amsterdam have been partners since 2010. The National Cello Competition’s three finalists will all take part in the highly renowned Kronberg Masterclass and, conversely, students from the academy will perform at the Biennale.
Ten ‘Kronberg Stars’ will be performing this year to celebrate our ten-year partnership, including Maciej Kułakowski (Poland), La Li (China) and Aleksey Shadrin (Ukraine), who’ll be doing justice to our ‘The Cello Takes Over’ theme on Friday, 23 October.
On the last day of the Biennale, Saturday, 31 October, they’ll be joining Alexander Warenberg and Julia Hagen to perform arrangements composed especially for this ad hoc cello quintet.
Brannon Cho will be representing Kronberg to perform his version of Bach’s Suite No. 6, and Kronberg alumni Edgar Moreau, Ella van Poucke, Jonathan Roozeman and Kian Soltani will all be making repeat appearances.
And last, but by no means least, are the young stars who’ll be performing at the Biennale and who aren’t studying or haven’t yet studied at the Kronberg Academy. These include 2019 International Tchaikovsky Competition winner Zlatomir Fung (USA), as well as Lidy Blijdorp (NL), Maya Fridman (NL), Laura van der Heijden (UK), Eline Hensels (NL) and Camille Thomas (FR/BE).
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CELLOFEST is the Biennale’s alternative ‘sub-festival’ held at Bimhuis. Every evening for eight days, you’ll be hearing two of the most intriguing young cellists from the international non-classical underground.
A veritable smorgasbord from Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the UK, the USA and, of course, the Netherlands.
What could make a greater impression on a young cello student than a lesson from one of their idols? At this year’s Cello Biennale, thirty-six cello students from all over the world will be coming to Amsterdam to receive instruction from twelve grandmasters, who’ll also be performing in several of our concerts.
Each masterclass will take two and a quarter hours in which three students each get a turn. Our regular accompanying pianists are Noriko Yabe and Daniël Kramer. The masterclasses will take place simultaneously at Bimhuis and in the Muziekgebouw’s Kleine Zaal.