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It’s not often that melancholy is so beautifully conveyed in song as by the British singersongwriter Keaton Henson. His fragile voice and delicate melodies transport you to the depths of his soul, a mesmeric landscape of almost unbearable sorrow. This will be one of Henson’s rare performances, made all the more special by the one-off collaboration with Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the unique surroundings of the Concertgebouw.
Keaton Henson is a British artist and songwriter who lives in London. Henson initially only wrote his songs for himself. After some encouragement from friends, he released his debut album Dear in 2010. Henson's breakthrough came in September 2011, when DJ Zane Lowe played You Dont Know How Lucky You Are on BBC Radio 1, which received a rapturous reaction from listeners. Recorded in California with producer Joe Chiccarelli, Henson released his second album Birthdays in 2013. Although Henson is a very reclusive artist who also suffers from severe stage fright, he did perform a few gigs in a number of small venues during 2012 and 2013, including a concert at the Geertekerk in Utrecht, The Netherlands. As an illustrator and visual artist, Henson has designed the artwork for various album covers, as well as releasing a wordless graphic novel called Gloaming, a 'field guide to a spirit world beyond our reality'. In June 2014, Henson released his third album, Romantic Works, on which he collaborated with the cellist Ren (Reinoud) Ford. Henson also wrote the music for dance company Balletboyz' acclaimed performance Young Men, which premiered in January 2015. Henson's performance at the Holland Festival truly promises to be a very special event, not only because of Henson's stage fright, but also because of the one-off collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the unique surroundings of the Concertgebouw.
Amsterdam Sinfonietta has occupied a unique position as the only professional string orchestra in the Netherlands for the past 25 years. Founded in 1988, with Lev Markiz as its first artistic director, the ensemble has performed throughout the world, touring Europe, China, the United States and Australia. It has appeared at major venues including the Barbican Hall in London, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing and the Berlin Konzerthaus. The ensemble comprises 22 string players who perform under the leadership of its concertmaster and artistic leader Candida Thompson. This approach to music- making without a conductor is what distinguishes the group from ‘regular’ chamber orchestras. It calls for an extremely intense degree of involvement from all the musicians. The repertoire covers a variety of styles, extending from the Baroque repertoire to contemporary works. Alongside performances of mainstream repertoire, the orchestra frequently champions unjustly neglected or new works. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has recently premièred compositions by David Matthews, Michel van der Aa, Kate Moore, Tigran Mansurian and Peteris Vasks. Leading composers such as Thomas Larcher, Rozalie Hirs and Sofia Gubaidulina are currently composing new works commissioned by Amsterdam Sinfonietta. The ensemble has gained a reputation for creating highly innovative programmes; its trademark versatility recently earned it the prestigious classical music prize De Ovatie in 2013. Amsterdam Sinfonietta’s educational KleuterSinfonietta performances are enjoyed by thousands of young children in the Netherlands each year. It also organises the Sinfonietta Strijkersdagen giving young musicians the opportunity to participate in workshops and perform in public in specially formed string orchestras. Within the past decade Amsterdam Sinfonietta has produced an impressive array of CDs under Candida Thompson’s leadership, in collaboration with the high-quality Channel Classics label. These include Britten (2013), Shostakovich & Weinberg (2013) and The Argentinian Album (2014). Recently the orchestra has also recorded CDs for labels such as ECM, Sony Classical and Deutsche Gramophone. During the last few seasons Amsterdam Sinfonietta has undertaken international tours with Sol Gabetta, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Martin Fröst. In early 2014 it joined forces with the American baritone Thomas Hampson, performing a unique song programme in twelve concert halls across Europe. Upcoming projects include a tour of Japan and concerts in the Benelux, Germany and Austria with the cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras.