Amsterdam Sinfonietta was founded in 1988, with Lev Markiz as its first artistic director. Candida Thompson has been concertmaster of the ensemble since 1995, as well as its artistic director since 2003. 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. In past years Amsterdam Sinfonietta has toured 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 repertoire encompasses a variety of styles, ranging from Baroque to contemporary works. Alongside performances of mainstream repertoire, the orchestra frequently champions unjustly neglected or new works. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has recently premièred compositions by Peter-Jan Wagemans, Michel van der Aa, Tigran Mansurian and Peteris Vasks. Leading composers such as Thomas Larcher, Sofia Gubaidulina, Calliope Tsoupaki and Rozalie Hirs 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 (The Ovation) in 2013. It frequently presents original and compelling combinations of works, initiates surprising collaborations and embraces groundbreaking concepts involving video art, dance or theatre. Successful partnerships were forged with the choreographers Emio Greco and PC, the actor Jeroen Willems, choreographer Nanine Linning, stage director Pierre Audi and singer-songwriter Patrick Watson.
Amsterdam Sinfonietta has worked with a host of internationally renowned musicians, such as Sergei Khachatryan, Barbara Hannigan, Sol Gabetta, David Fray, Janine Jansen, Dejan Lazić, Steven Isselis, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Isabelle Faust, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Jasper de Waal,Martin Fröst, Alexander Melnikov, Christianne Stotijn, Bobby McFerrin and Wende Snijders. In past seasons Amsterdam Sinfonietta has undertaken tours of Europe and Turkey with Sol Gabetta, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Martin Fröst. During its 2013-2014 Jubilee season it joined forces with the American baritone Thomas Hampson, performing a unique song programme in twelve concert halls across Europe. The orchestra also gave concerts in Russia with the Georgian pianist Nino Gvetadze. Upcoming projects include a tour with the violinist Janine Jansen and concerts in the Benelux, Germany and Austria with the cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras.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 ‘The Mahler Album’ (2011), ‘Britten’ (2013) and ‘Shostakovich & Weinberg’ (2014).