musicians from across europe – music without borders


Christopher Bouwman

In 2006 Christopher Bouwman was chosen by then music director Lorin Maazel to become the solo oboist of his newly found opera house in Valencia – Spain. As a member of the Orquesta de la Comunitat Valenciana, he has played extensively with the conductors Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Chailly, Georges Prêtre and others. He has also performend in the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Bavarian State Opera and the Frankfurt Opera.


During the 2014-2015 season, Christopher will be on trial for the position of solo oboist of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. He has performed solo concertos of Mozart and Strauss, with the Bruckner Orchester Linz and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and with the conductors Dennis Russell Davies, Vasily Petrenko and Tamás Vásáry.


Christopher is also an enthusiastic chamber musician, being a founding member of the ensemble Schulhoff. He was invited to perform at the Amsterdam Grachtenfestival and the Delft Chamber Music Festival.


At the age of twelve Christopher was admitted to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he studied with Ali Groen, Frank Minderaa and Han de Vries. He completed his Master of Music studies with distinction. He continued his studies in Geneva with Maurice Bourgue where he received his Diplôme de Soliste.


Christopher has been a successful winner of both national and international competitions, including the Princess Christina competition, the 2003 European Music Prize for Youth and the third prize at the Barbirolli International Oboe Competition. In 2009 he was the recipient of the second prize at the prestigious Fernand-Gillet International Oboe Competition. He also received generous grants from Nuffic, the Yamaha Cultural Foundation and the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation.

questions & amswers

Which piece got you interested in new music?

It’s a bit of a cliché, but my introduction to ‘modern’ music was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, although one can hardly call it modern these days. It definitely was modern for its time and modern for me when I first heard it, and as a boy it excited and fascinated me beyond anything I had ever heard before. I must have heard it for the first time somewhere during my early teens. My father had a CD recording of the The Hague’s Residentie Orchestra with Hans Vonk conducting. I remember listening to it every night before sleeping; I knew every inch of it by heart. There was a soft thump somewhere on the recording, not a part of the music, which always gave me a startle because it sounded as though one of my parents was coming up the stairs, ready to discover my little sacrilegious ritual. Another piece I love is Berio’s Sequenza number VII for oboe, which was the first major modern work I studied and performed. Heinz Holliger’s landmark recording is very beautiful, although I also admire László Hadady’s recording for its accuracy.


What makes playing new music in the New European Ensemble satisfying and worthwhile?

The main activity for me as a musician is playing in orchestras. It is one of the ways of making music that I enjoy the most. I have played in orchestras ever since I started playing an instrument, initially on the recorder. It’s a great thrill to be part of such a large group of people playing different instruments yet all trying to create the same piece of music. Since 2006 I’ve been part of the opera of Valencia. Playing in an opera orchestra means making music not only with your colleagues in the pit, but making music with the soloists and choir on stage or accompanying ballet dancers. Not counting the conductors, each of whom have their own style. It’s without a doubt the most complex form of ensemble playing.


Playing in the New European Ensemble is an altogether different experience. For one, at the opera we focus mainly on the great works of the 18th and 19th century: Mozart, Rossini, Puccini, Wagner. At the NEuE, I can finally give in to my cravings for contemporary music. The thrill of the new and unknown. The smaller group of people that make up the ensemble also create a very different group dynamic. It is a very refreshing break from the orchestra and complements it very well.


which non-classical music do you like?

1. David Binney, Jacob Sacks, Chris Potter, Thomas Morgan & Dan Weiss: Right before. Heard these guys at the 55 Bar in New York, they’re amazing!

2. Chet Baker: Sad Walk. One of my favorites, well, it’s Chet. Of course this is actually classical music.

3. Taraf de Haidouks: Jamparale ca la Vadulat. There is something about this music that makes me want to dance, even though I can’t dance.

4. Miles Davis: Pharaoh's Dance. Very trippy, it’s one of my favorite jazz tracks

5. Tin Hat: The Comet. I was recently introduced to The Comet, a track by an American band called Tin Hat. The Comet’s strange soundscape gives you the feeling you’re floating across the stars, seeing beautiful views of strange suns while lazily drifting through great expanses of nothingness.


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listen & watch

stravinsky: Rite of spring
(conductor: Igor markevitch)

luciano berio: sequenza vii
heinz holliger

Chris’ non classical top 5

New European Ensemble is supported by Fonds Podiumkunsten (from 2017) and the city of The Hague