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The Amsterdam Sinfonietta bills itself as the only professional string orchestra in the Netherlands. Based in Amsterdam, the group, consisting of 22 musicians, has worked with visiting artists of international renown and has a broad, varied repertoire that includes music from outside the classical sphere.
The Amsterdam Sinfonietta was founded as the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam in 1988; its members were young musicians who wanted to cultivate a high level of ensemble playing. The group's first music director was Lev Markiz, who led performances of new works and of 20th century Russian string orchestra repertory. He was succeeded in 1998 by Peter Oundjian, who followed other string orchestras of the time by organizing performances of full-scale symphonic works. Candida Thompson became the Amsterdam Sinfonietta's concertmaster in 1995 and succeeded Oundjian as artistic director for the 2003-2004 season; the orchestra also performs without a conductor. It has appeared, in addition to Dutch venues, at the Barbican in London, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Berlin Konzerthaus, and the National Center of the Performing Arts in Beijing. It has toured the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Russia, and (twice) South Africa. Guest conductors and leaders have included such major figures as Murray Perahia, Iona Brown, Reinbert de Leeuw, Valery Gergiev, Christopher Hogwood, and Gennady Rozhdestvensky. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta signed to the Channel Classics label, and released a recording of Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence in 2004. The orchestra has subsequently recorded steadily for that label, including an album featuring Bartók's Divertimento for string orchestra in 2018. That recording also included a string orchestra arrangement of the Brahms String Quintet in G major, Op. 111, and many of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta's recordings have included orchestral versions of chamber works. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta has performed numerous new works, including operatic productions for both adults and children, and it has collaborated with pop artists Karin Bloemen in 2009 and Wende (Wende Snijders) in 2010.