Berlin string ensemble returns with two exciting new programmes

Baroque Revisited

Sarah Nemtsov, Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop

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Four old masters. Four young, up-and-coming soloists. Baroque Revisited catapults the music of Bach, Pandolfi Mealli, Von Biber and Barriere into the 21st century, in a theatrical performance which makes maximum use of all possibilities available in the concert hall. Composer Sarah Nemtsov has put the material together into a new, evening long work, in which the parallels and contrasts between the composers are given a strong physical presence by the spatial grouping of the soloists and strings of Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop.



Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop is coming to the Holland Festival again – with two programmes this time. One of them is Baroque Revisited, a concert in which early and new music come together in a special way. Baroque Revisited is a laboratory for theatrical and musical ideas and a meeting place for theory and practice. In this piece the Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop from Berlin combines forces with composer Sarah Nemtsov (b. 1980) and four young soloists who have been selected for Amsterdam’s prestigious Jumpstart Jr. programme.

Established in 2006, Jumpstart Jr. is a Dutch foundation that oversees a unique collection of historical string instruments, each of them built by master instrument makers and selected for the foundation by prominent Baroque musicians. Jumpstart Jr. makes these valuable instruments with catgut strings available for young musicians who have already completed their studies and are expected to have a great solo career as performers of Baroque, classical or early romantic music. Jumpstart Jr. also coaches the musicians in its programme and enables them to participate in special projects like Baroque Revisited.

The four participating soloists are the Icelandic violinist Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir, who is also concertmaster of Kaleidoskop; the Bulgarian violinist Zefira Valova; the American cellist Steuart Pincombe; and the French-English cellist Vladimir Waltham. In Baroque Revisited, these soloists have been asked to define themselves through the work of composers with whom they feel a special affinity. They chose the French cellist Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747), the Italian violinist Pandolfi Mealli (ca. 1630-ca. 1669/1670) and the Austrian violinist Heinrich von Biber (1644-1704). The fourth composer is Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Each of these favourite composers has a clearly distinguished place in musical history, and in Baroque Revisited these four distinctive ‘musical spaces’ form the foundations of a new contemporary composition. The German composer Sarah Nemtsov has written a work for a full evening’s programme that in an original manner interweaves the extremely diverse musical worlds of Barrière, Mealli, Von Biber and Bach with each other and with the modern listener’s experience. Sometimes the works of these composers sound like an integral part of the whole, other times they are reduced to their essence or are barely recognizable, disguised in a new form; they overlap one another or flow into each other. To Nemtsov’s great credit, she translates their individuality and characteristic styles into her own idiom, letting them shine through in a musical world that is completely her own.

Although Baroque Revisited is conceived for a traditional concert hall, the programme uses the space in an unconventional manner, aimed at radicalizing the possibilities. Playing a role in this is the Actor-Network theory, which postulates that people not only interact with one another but also, and just as much, with objects and spaces. Musicians play parts of the work in an anteroom, in the hallways, under the stage or in the foyer, bringing the spatial division between performers and audience into sharp relief. With the help of a clever lighting design, Baroque Revisited shows the endless variations that can found off the beaten paths of the classical concert formula.

Baroque Revisited is an explicitly ambitious project, its goal being nothing less than to reshape the way we experience concerts, to redefine our presence as listeners in a concert hall as well as our ideas about that – such ‘early’ versus ‘new’ music.

Baroque Revisited Sebastian Bolesch 5 Breed


Berlin-based Sarah Nemtsov (b. Oldenburg, 1980) studied composition under Nigel Osborne, Johannes Schoellhorn and Walter Zimmermann and oboe under Klaus Becker and Burkhard Glaetzner. She has won various awards for her compositions, including the ZONTA Music Prize in 2011, the Deutscher Musikautorenpreis (German Songwriter Prize) in 2012 and a year later, the Busoni Composition Prize. Various foundations have provided her with grants. Sarah Nemtsov works with the Ensemble Adapter, the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the Ensemblekollektiv Berlin and the Ensemble Accroche Note, among other groups. Her compositions have been programmed at internationally renowned festivals such as the Donaueschingen Festival, Ultraschall, MaerzMusik, the Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music, the ISCM World New Music Festival, Wien Modern and the Bregen Festival. Sarah Nemtsov’s music, written for various instrumentations, is characterized by its combination with literature. She always seeks the borderline between the concert format and music theatre. Urban sounds, concurrence and chaotic forms of chamber music are part of her latest compositions, in which electronic music also plays a role. In 2014, she was guest lecturer in composition at the Cologne University of Music. This past season, Sarah Nemtsov was affiliated with the Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra; a number of her pieces were performed as part of Erfurts Neue Noten.

Solistensemble Kaleidoskop was formed in 2006 in Berlin as a chamber string orchestra with a mission to break out of the traditional concert format. True to this mission, their productions under the artistic direction of Michael Rauter and Daniella Strasfogel have featured early and new music in original contexts, often in collaboration with artists from other disciplines such as architecture, dance, literature and theatre. The ensemble has a core membership of fifteen string players, which is sometimes expanded by the addition of guest musicians for particular projects. All members also work as soloists, which makes Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop a special ensemble, characterized by a broad mind-set and a willingness to take risks. Kaleidoskop’s repertoire extends from Baroque to contemporary.
The ensemble is a regular guest at festivals like the Kunstfest Weimar, KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen, the Sydney Festival, the Holland Festival, Operadagen Rotterdam, Operadhoy Madrid and the Donaueschingen Musiktage. Kaleidoskop has performed at the Concertgebouw in Bruges, the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam and Harpa in Reykjavík. The company has worked with Sasha Waltz, Sabrina Hölzer, Laurent Chétouane, Jennifer Walshe and other artists. 2013-14 saw the premiere of Van den Vos, a collaboration with Belgian theatre company FC Bergman; Kaleidoskop composed the music.

The Dutch foundation Jumpstart Jr. was set up in 2006. Jumpstart Jr. oversees a unique collection of string instruments crafted by old masters and selected for the foundation by prominent performers of Baroque music. Jumpstart Jr.’s objective is to support young musicians with exceptional talent who have completed their musical studies. Besides loaning them a high-quality instrument, the Jumpstart Jr. programme consists of coaching, access to an extensive international network of musicians, artistic directors, conductors and promoters, and a chance to participate in special projects. Jumpstart Jr. supports musicians from all over the world who play gut-stringed instruments and specialize in the historical performance practices of Baroque, classical and early romantic music.


composition, arrangement
Sarah Nemtsov
artistic direction
Daniella Strasfogel
Ladislav Zajac
Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir, viool
Zefira Valova, viool
Steuart Pincombe, violoncello
Vladimir Waltham, violoncello
a production by
Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop & Jumpstart Jr. Foundation