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The musicians of the Festival 2024

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The 6 musicians of the second festival in 2024

The ensemble that we are presenting to you was created especially for the second edition of the Les Étoiles du Morvan festival. The musicians rub shoulders during concerts and tours with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.


The Orchestra has acquired a unique international position with its “velvet” strings, its “golden” brass and the exceptional and personal timbre of the woodwinds. Besides the golden brass player Fons Verspaandonk and the exceptional clarinetist Arno Piters, you will hear and meet four of the “velvet” string players.

Marc Daniel van Biemen (Netherlands) has been principal violinist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra since May 2012. Before that, he participated in the Karajan-Akademie of the Berliner Philharmoniker. He has been guest concertmaster of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Yale Philharmonia, among others. He has performed as a soloist with, among others, the Eastern Orchestra, the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, the Soloists of the Residentie Orchestra and the Hague Youth Orchestra.


Marc Daniel van Biemen is part of Camerata RCO and is principal violinist of the Alma Quartet (, which won the Prix de Salon in 2014 and has released four highly acclaimed albums; the first CD Schulhoff Complete String Quartets received the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2017.


His book “Violist” was published in May 2023, in which Marc Daniel van Biemen speaks frankly about his journey and his life as a musician.


As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with, among others, Leonidas Kavakos, Janine Jansen, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Murray Perahia, Leif Ove Andsnes, Nicolas van Poucke, Ilya Gringolts, Maxim Rysanov, Colin Carr, Alexander Kerr, Torleif Thedéen, Mate. Szücs, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Julien Quentin, Andreas Ottensammer, Henrik Schwarz and Hauschka.


At the age of six, Marc Daniel van Biemen began his violin studies with his father Wybo van Biemen. Three years later, he was admitted to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague with Koosje van Haeringen. He continued his studies with Jaap van Zweden and later with Herman Krebbers. From 2005 he studied at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and from 2007 at the Yale University School of Music with Syoko Aki.

In 2009, he won second prize at the Oskar Back National Violin Competition. He also won a special prize at the Fritz Kreisler Violin Competition...


Did you know: during the festival, he will not only pick up his violin, but he will also make his viola debut in Mozart's horn quintet!

Serbian violinist Jelena Ristic graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad in the class of Dejan Mihailović, then studied in Amsterdam with Ilya Grubert.


Between 2005 and 2007, Jelena Ristic performed solo with the Niš Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad and the Gelders Orchestra. In 2008, she became concertmaster of the Gelders Orchestra. She has also served as assistant concertmaster of the Brabants Orchestra and the Holland Symfonia, as well as concertmaster of several orchestras in Denmark.


Jelena Ristic has been part of the concertgebouw orchestra's first violin group since April 2013. She plays a J.B. Vuillaume Violin (circa 1845).


Did you know: Jelena Ristic not only plays the violin, but also sings? During the concert at the château, we will have the opportunity to appreciate her talents.

Santa Vižine (Latvia) has been part of the viola group of the Concertgebouw Orchestra since December 2017. She has been principal violist since January 1, 2022.


Santa Vižine is originally from Riga and studied at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Music Academy with Arigo Strals. She won the Latvian State Prize in 2005 and the Special Jury Prize at the Krzysztof Penderecki Contemporary Chamber Music Festival in 2008.


From 2009 to 2017, she was leader of the violas of Gidon Kremer's Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra. In this position she worked with soloists such as Martha Argerich, Mikhail Pletnev, Daniil Trifonov, Lisa Batiashvili, Patricia Kopatchinskaya, Didier Lockwood, Mischa Maisky, Mate Bekavac and Sergei Nakariakov.


She has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Sydney Opera House and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. She has performed at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest, the Wiener Festwochen and - with Kim Kashkashian, Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis and Christian Tetzlaff - at Chamber Music Connects the World in 2014.


Santa Vižine has performed solo with Sinfonia Concertante and Kremerata Baltica. She has also performed with, for example, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Sinfonietta Riga Chamber Orchestra.


During the 2012/2013 season she participated in the Concertgebouw Orchestra Academy.


Santa Vižine plays a Grancino viola, dating from around 1680!

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Dutch cellist Johan van Iersel studied with Elias Arizcuren at the Utrecht Conservatory, where he graduated with distinction in 1995. After studying with Philippe Müller at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, he attended master classes with Siegfried Palm, Mstislav Rostropovich and Heinrich Schiff.


Since September 1997, he has been deputy solocellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra.


Johan van Iersel won prizes at the Princess Christina Competition (1990), the Postbank Sweelinck Competition (1992) and the Stichting Jong Muziektalent Nederland Competition (1991). Together with pianist Jeroen Bal, he received the silver crown from the Friends of the Association of Friends of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1992.


He forms the Vermeer Trio with Jeroen Bal and assistant concertmaster Tjeerd Top. Van Iersel also played in the Escher Trio and is a member of the Blaeu String Quartet, which performs in Germany and abroad. He regularly plays solo with, among others, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the former Radio Chamber Orchestra and the Residentie Orchestra.


Johan van Iersel has been playing since 2005 on a F. Ruggieri cello (Cremona, 1687) that belonged to his cello teacher.

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Arno Piters (Netherlands) studied clarinet and E-flat clarinet at the Maastricht Conservatory and then at the Amsterdam Higher Conservatory, where he again graduated with distinction.

He was a member of the Dutch National Youth Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and the European Union Youth Orchestra, where he played under the direction of Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink and Vladimir Ashkenazy.


As a soloist he has played with the Residentie Orchester, the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and the Nürnberger Symphoniker, among others.

From 2001 to 2003, he was a member of the Radio Symphony Orchestra. He then joined the Concertgebouw Orchestra.


He is affiliated with the Amsterdam Higher Conservatory as a teacher and gives music lessons at home and abroad.

As a chamber musician he has performed at festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. He co-organises and is artistic advisor to the Festival Les Étoiles du Morvan.

Fons Verspaandonk (Netherlands) studied at the Brabant Higher Conservatory with Herman Jeurissen and graduated with distinction. He attended masterclasses with Radovan Vlatkovic, Frøydis Ree Wekre and Michael Höltzel.


Since January 2004, he has been a horn player with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Before that, he played with the Het Brabants Orkest (1995-1998) and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (1998-2003).


From 2007 to 2012, Fons taught horn at the Fontys Conservatory in Tilburg as principal professor.


Fons Verspaandonk is part of the Farkas Quintet and often collaborates with chamber music ensembles such as the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam. He is also a member of the concertgebouw orchestra's brass ensemble.


Since the beginning, Fons has co-organized this festival and has served as its artistic advisor.

Photos: Mladen Pikulic

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