musicians from across europe – music without borders


willem stam

The Canadian/Dutch cellist Willem Stam was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. In 2006 he moved to The Hague where he is currently based. His repertoire spans the entire history of the cello and beyond. He works frequently with living composers. A versatile and flexible musician, he performs regularly as soloist, chamber musician, and conductor in a large variety of ensembles and settings.


He is the founding cellist of the Netherlands-based Ysaÿe Trio, an ensemble that released its first CD on the Dutch Record Company label in 2013 with a planned second CD release in late 2014. He is also co-founder and artistic committee member of the New European Ensemble.


Willem studied in Canada with Beth Sandvoss and John Kadz and in the Netherlands with Dmitry Ferschtman; he completed his master’s degree in 2012. He has played for and worked with many of the worlds leading cellists and pedagogues and brings this background into his own teaching, including masterclasses that he gives in Canada, South America and Europe. Willem teaches at Music For Life in Amsterdam and gives regularly master classes and lessons to cellists around the world through the internet.


Willem plays on a Stefano Scarampella (Mantova 1918) cello with a Victor Fétique bow (Paris), made available by the National Instrument Foundation of The Netherlands.


Follow us on:

listen & watch

willem plays Prokofiev:
Romeo & Julia

questions & amswers

Which piece got you interested in new music?

I grew up visiting local symphony concerts and the string quartet competition in Banff where I undoubtedly was exposed to a certain amount of new music, but my first conscious memory of contemporary music came through my first cello teacher Beth Sandvoos who introduced me to Michael Daugherty’s Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover for string quartet and tape. It was a real shock to me to see and hear how extended string techniques and a pre-recorded voice are been put together to produce this satirical, political piece. A moment that opened my eyes and ears to many new experiences.


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

Playing in the New European Ensemble is a really enjoyable experience for me because of the continuing inspiration I gather from my colleagues that have incredibly diverse backgrounds. No one in the ensemble is a specialist in any field and we’ve worked with leading orchestra players and chamber musicians and soloists within our approximate age group from all over the world. It’s fascinating to have young, enthusiastic, thoughtful musicians bring their backgrounds together to interpret and present the different sides of life and art that composers represent in new music. I think as a group we’ve always had a certain energy and drive through all our projects, no matter what the circumstances, that gives a certain dynamic quality to the working atmosphere and concert space that I don’t find very often elsewhere.

michael daugherty:

sing SIng: J Edgar Hoover

willem’s non classical top 5

leonard cohen:


The Beatles:

Eleanor Rigby

Oscar peterson:

Put on a happy face

arcade fire:

Wake Up

léo ferré:

les étrangers

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