Bram van Sambeek

Bram van Sambeek: Winnipeg New Music Festival

Bram van Sambeek is an international bassoonist and professor of bassoon at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. He is known for his highly versatile approach to bassoon playing and for his innovative programming. He is the only bassoonist to receive the highest Dutch Cultural Award: The Dutch Music Prize in 2009. As a soloist, he performs with orchestras such as the Gothenburg, Galicia and Netherlands Symphony Orchestras, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn and Camerata RCO. Many composers, such as Vanessa Lann, Sebastian Fagerlund and Kalevi Aho, have written concertos for him.

He played for ten years as principal bassoonist in the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a guest principal with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Since 2009 he has been teaching the bassoon at the Conservatories in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague. In 2017 he started a professorship at the Hochschule für Music und Tanz in Cologne, before deciding to return to the Royal Conservatoire The Hague in 2021. Bram has taught masterclasses at schools like Bloomington Indiana, the Royal College of London and the Hochschule für Musik in Basel.

As a chamber musician he has worked regularly with Alexei Ogrintchouk, Reto Bieri, Hervé Joulain, Radovan Vlatkovich, Liza Ferschtman, Christoph Pregardien, Pekka Kuusisto, Nicolas Altstaedt and his most frequent chambermusic partner Rick Stotijn. In 2010 Bram was offered a Carte Blanche series in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and in 2015 he received a “Wild Card” consisting of many adventurous concerts at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, also in Amsterdam. He is a regular guest at festivals like the Delft Chamber Music Festival, Storioni Festival, Orlando Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, and he has experimented with concert formats such as playing people to sleep.

In 2016 he was the spokesman of the “Save the bassoon” campaign set up by the Holland Festival. This led to a lot of international attention and publicity for the instrument. Bram is very much interested in playing any style he likes, which leads him to work with rock musicians like Sven Figee at Konzerthaus Berlin, Jazz musicians like Joris Roelofs at the famous North Sea Jazz Festival, and Arab musicians like Kinan Azmeh at the Morgenland Festival.

On the occasion of being awarded the Dutch Music Prize, Bram played the bassoon concerto by Gubaidulina with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and chief conductor Seguin. De Telegraaf newspaper wrote about this performance: “He uses his instrument freely as a mouthpiece, conjures the finest timbres, and is technically capable of doing anything.” In 2011 he won a Borletti Buitoni Trust Award, and has been admitted to the Chamber Music Society of New York’s Lincoln Center.

About working together with Bram, Yannick Nézet-Séguin remarked in a television interview available at “I think he is able to fall in love with many aspects of the music, and doesn’t set himself too many boundaries.” In another interview about Bram, Valery Gergiev remarked: “… all in all a combination of being artistically involved, motivated and being gifted, being a very nice person, and also being a little bit unusual!”