About the Octet

Cello Octet Amsterdam is a unique and multifaceted ensemble that has become a household name both nationally and internationally.

Currently, the octet consists of Claire Bleumer, Esther Torrenga, Genevieve Verhage, Alistair Sung, Rares Mihailescu, René van Munster, Sanne Bijker and Sanne van der Horst.

“Eight top cellists… Total technical perfection, intensity and colourful interpretation” said the iconic magazine The Strad about them. Cello Octet Amsterdam stands for new music and works with today’s most remarkable composers, including Xenakis, Gubaidulina, Pärt, Boulez, Loevendie, Riley, Kagel, Glass and many others. The octet has performed over 70 world premieres, most of which were especially written for and dedicated to the octet. Upon hearing the premiere of his first work for the octet, Arvo Pärt, who has become a close friend of the octet, said: ” This octet is a piece of gold, I’ve discovered this ensemble ten years too late.”

Next to new works, the library of the octet contains dozens of surprising arrangements, which often lead to astonishment when audiences discover them. The octet’s successful combination of new music and arrangements have made the Cello Octet into an inspiration to cellists all over the world. At present, the octet has released 17 CDs.

Cello Octet Amsterdam is well known for its versatile programming and its extraordinary collaborations. Collaborations have included concerts with singers such as Tereza Berganza, Karin Strobos and Cristina Branco, performances with Hadewych Minis and Bløf, dance productions with Conny Janssen Danst and Caribbean grooves with Izaline Calister.

The octet has not only performed in most of the major concert halls in Europe, but has also given concerts in the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have also performed in many special locations, including the tunnels of the Amsterdam metro, on the roof terrace of the Dutch National Opera building and in many others.

World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma said in an interview: “… this ensemble is a treasure indeed, a fine example to the world of music… Everywhere I play: Brazil, Japan, the US, people want to talk to me about the Cello Octet…”

The octet was founded in 1989 as Conjunto Ibérico. After artistic director Elias Arizcuren said goodbye to the ensemble, the octet continued under the name of Cello Octet Amsterdam.

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