As of 1 January 2021 Johan Dorrestein will step down as Managing Director of the Cello Biënnale Amsterdam. Johan is leaving after no less than eleven years in which six Biënnales took place.
Johan: After eleven intensive years and six editions of the Biënnale, the most recent of which I will surely remember for a long time to come, I’ve decided to end this chapter of my life.
This decision evokes in me conflicting emotions. I feel that I have done enough, but at the same time I am bringing an incredibly beautiful chapter of my life to an end.
When in 2009 Maarten asked me, as an old friend, to join him to help with his Cello Biënnale, I didn’t yet realise what I was getting myself into and I could not have known that such a long and special journey would follow, where so much, if not anything, was possible, in which there would be so many beautiful moments, during which I would meet so many incredible musicians, and where every edition of the festival seemed to be able to surpass the previous one.
The highlights and precious moments throughout all these years are beyond count, the magical concerts with Tan Dun, the excitement around the numerous premieres, Cello&Voice, the phenomenal cellists Queyras, Altstaedt, and Sollima who (luckily) return every time, Bach&Breakfast, the 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker, 2Cellos, Apocalyptica, Anner Bijlsma 80 years old, Cello & Film, Cello Coupé, Nomads, Bang on a Can, Jordi Savall, Hello Cello, De Bestorming, the Hello Cello Days, the visit of young cellists from El Salvador and from the Palestinian refugee camp Ayda, the National Cello Competition, the many young talents, CELLOFEST, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Cello Band… etcetera, etcetera.
I consider myself an incredibly lucky man. After travelling across the world as a classical guitarist in the 80s followed by many great years with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, the Cello Biënnale, as the most amazing festival possible for classical music, became the apotheosis of a long life in the performing arts world.
I am incredibly grateful to Maarten, to Michaël – as the essential third of the Three Musketeers -, and to everyone with whom I’ve had the privilege to collaborate on making this beautiful festival a little more special every time, my wonderful colleagues, the supportive board, our volunteers, partners, sponsors, friends and foundations.
Artistic Director Maarten Mostert: When, almost a year ago, Johan told me that the Cello Biënnale 2020 would be his last, I immediately understood that there was no chance of changing his mind. Not that I didn’t try, but whenever something important gets into Johan’s mind, it is almost impossible to go against that…
Of course we went through all the pros and cons together, but in the end he is the one to make his own life decisions, and I respect his decision.
His boundless creativity and ability to bring together people and great plans, as well as being able to find the necessary funds to do it, are unique qualities in the cultural world of the Netherlands.
The fact that Johan was willing to join forces with the Cello Biënnale in 2010 was a long-time wish of mine and a gift from heaven.
The Cello Biënnale kept growing and desperately needed a Managing Director with experience and good overview. On top of those things, Johan is full of artistic ideas which, in combination with his strong social engagement, have added greatly to the Cello Biënnale. I will forever remember the many remarkable sessions of exchanging ideas endlessly.
Johan, of course, cannot be replaced. The way our collaboration worked was uniquely possible through our long-term mutual friendship and respect.
And sometimes, when we couldn’t work something out, Michaël Neuburger was there as a sensible third party, and has been so increasingly over the past years. In his role of Assistant Managing Director, Michaël has long been prepared to take over a great deal of Johan’s responsibilities. He will follow in Johan’s footsteps as the new Managing Director as per January 1st.
I myself will be taking over the other half, for which I will reduce my amount of concert engagements with Amsterdam Sinfonietta.