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Dutch conductor joins Sinfonia Viva


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Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst has been appointed as Principal Conductor of Sinfonia Viva – the East Midlands’ professional orchestra, based in Derby, which has celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. Mr Zielhorst said he was relishing to take up the role with Sinfonia Viva and to programme a ‘menu of delights’ for orchestral concerts around the region.


“I worked with the orchestra as guest conductor both at Derby Cathedral and at Derby Theatre for the ‘Mechanical Advantage’ education project performance in 2017 and was very impressed both with the quality of work and with the reception from the Derby audiences. “Sinfonia Viva is one of the top regional orchestras with an amazing reputation. It is multi-talented orchestra with an excellent band of players, incredible versatility and a great management team to support the activities.


“Taking on the role as Principal Conductor gives me the opportunity to develop my artistic vision and to embed Viva even further into the artistic fabric of the city and region. “The orchestra has a packed programme of high quality education and outreach work for which it has a well-deserved national reputation. “My focus as Principal Conductor is to raise the identity of the orchestra on the concert platform to the highest possible level whilst nurturing that well-earned reputation for imaginative creative projects. “I want to give more people greater opportunities to enjoy a wide range of classical music and particularly to reach out to people who have had limited chances to experience live classical music.”


Mr Zielhorst is a self-confessed ‘foodie’ and likened going to an orchestral concert to dining in a Michelin star restaurant. “When you go to a fancy restaurant, you may not know what to expect and may not recognise the dishes on the menu but you trust the chef’s skills and impeccable taste to serve you something delicious. “My aim is that audiences see Sinfonia Viva in the same light. A piece of music or a composer on the programme might be unknown to you, but you wouldn’t reject an exquisite six-course meal, because you don’t know a dish inside it.


“You trust that what the chef makes is going to be good and that he or she has put a lot of thought into how and why to combine certain ingredients and dishes. “I want the audiences to trust me as they would trust a Michelin star chef. We are going to bring “Michelin-star-quality” programmes to Derby and East Midlands. “I also want to challenge the view that people will only come to an orchestral music if they already know the music as I believe that, once that trust is built, audiences will be keen to broaden their concert experiences.


“My particular passion is to create a narrative through concerts and to take audiences on journeys throughout a season – creating different experiences with each performance complementing each other – again like the restaurant menu. “My aim is therefore to bring high quality and well balanced musical menus with all sorts of different flavours and textures to Derby and the East Midlands.” Mr Zielhorst comes from a family of church musicians and started his musical journey by playing the violin. He went to his first concert when he was nine-years-old and decided then that he wanted to be a conductor.


He studied orchestral conducting with Jac van Steen and Kenneth Montgomery at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and is a laureate of the prestigious Kersjes Foundation conducting scholarship. He moved to the UK three years ago and now lives on the outskirts of London with his Italian born partner. He continued that joining Sinfonia Viva was akin to his love of being part of a community.


“I love being in the UK. It is a beautiful country with lovely people and great traditions. Although I am away from home, I am very much a family person and I particularly like to be part of a community of people. “Derby will be my second home over the coming years and the orchestra my second family. “I am looking forward to being part of the fabric of the city and the regional arts community and I plan to spend the coming months meeting as many people as I can to get under the skin of the city and region.”


Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive Peter Helps concluded: “We are delighted that Frank is joining the Orchestra as Principal Conductor. “His commitment to every aspect of Viva’s work, combined with his ambition to be an integral part of the cultural life of this region is fantastic not just for us as an organisation but for the wider community. “We, the players and management, have all enjoyed working with Frank tremendously over the past year and are looking forward to this new partnership with enthusiasm and excitement.”


Mr Zielhorst (32), who takes over the baton from Duncan Ward, will make his debut under his new role on February 6 at the culmination performance of the Orchestra’s education Spring residency at Derby Theatre followed by a concert at Derby Cathedral on March 14. Mr Zielhorst has performed extensively at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as their Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association. Amongst other orchestras he has worked with are the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, The Hague Philharmonic, the Philharmonie Zuidnederland and the Prague Symphony Orchestra as well as with leading opera companies across Europe.


Mr Zielhorst has a particular passion for education teaches at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. He also works regularly with youth orchestras such as the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the South West Youth Orchestra and the Athenaeum Chamber Orchestra in The Hague.


For information about Frank Zielhorst’s debut concerts with Sinfonia Viva, please visit


January 26, 2018

Wednesday 28 June

6.30pm showcase

8.00pm drinks


Studio Theatre, RADA

16 Chenies St. London WC1E 7EX

Pelleas et Melisande


Claude Debussy

Conductor Frank Zielhorst

Director Jeanne Pansard-Besson

Frank Zielhorst conducting .........


the Residentie Orchestra The Hague


accompanying the cultfilm Nosferatu.


May 6, 2017 at the ‘Paard van Troje’, The Hague


Horrorklassieker én cultfilm ‘Nosferatu’ uit 1922 is een van de eerste films gebaseerd op Bram Stokers vampierepos ‘Dracula’.


Om de auteursrechten te omzeilen werd de elegante Dracula een monsterachtige graaf Orlok en werden plot en setting aangepast. Stokers weduwe was echter niet te vermurwen en liet beslag leggen op de film, op één kopie na.... Gegarandeerd een bloedstollende filmavond met livemuziek!



Let us explain: i-Classics is the innovative concert series of the South Netherlands Philharmonic. A surprising and multidisciplinary journey through todays world of art and technology. At unexpected locations for everyone who occasionally wants something extraordinary. Or for those who want to experience classical music in another way.


In this first edition: i-Classics Music & Theatre, director Vincent van Warmerdam and storytellers Micha Hamel and Sofie Porro will tell a story about the history of music. They connect classical- and popmusic in an extraordinary way and choose the best of both worlds. In one hour you will become an expert on music!


Micha Hamel takes the public in fast track through the history of music. Starting with the arise of Gregorian music on to Bach, Beethoven and Mahler, off to modern classical times like Stravinsky, Schönberg and last via Duke Ellington to Elvis and Robin Thicke. Every song and every part of this concert is connected and these connections will be discussed, visualised and performed. The South Netherlands Philharmonic is almost like a king size cover band, lead by conductor Frank Zielhorst. They will perform the most beautiful music out of history’s treasures and it will be a tribute to the power of music.


In co-production with Toneelgroep Maastricht.

Frank Zielhorst

Twilight at Derby Cathedral


Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst will make his concert debut with Bondholder Sinfonia Viva at fellow Bondholder Derby Cathedral on Friday March 3.

The concert, entitled ‘A Little Symphony in F’ is the latest stage of the popular Twilights series of late afternoon and early evening performances at the Cathedral.


Twilights is a partnership between Sinfonia Viva and Derby Cathedral and has been a key element in the Cathedral’s two-year cultural audience development programme supported with a £80,000 Arts Council England grant.


The concert will feature work by classical music ‘giants’ Haydn, Strauss and Beethoven and Frank Zielhorst explained that this varied programme would appeal to a wide range of classical music fans.


Mr Zielhorst who, for the past two years, has performed extensively as Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, said: “I am so looking forward to returning to Derby to conduct Sinfonia Viva in Derby Cathedral which is a truly magnificent building with wonderful acoustics.


“This will be my second time with the Orchestra in as many months having worked with the musicians and composer James Redwood for the performance of the education residency ‘Mechanical Advantage’ at Derby Theatre in early February." For more information and box office details, visit


Asad Moghal / Derby Telegraph / 2017

Frank Zielhorst made his debut with Sinfonia Viva in Derby, Engeland in February 2017.


Next concert in March 2017 !


Cog wheels, gears, levers, gravity – not obvious song material. But of course Sinfonia Viva and the Derby schoolchildren and students taking part in the orchestra’s latest schools residency project aren’t going to be fazed by a trifling consideration like that.


After a short film of the project in action, it was over to Viva and the students, performing the songs and instrumental pieces they had written on the theme of ‘Mechanical Advantage’. Composer and workshop leader James Redwood provided his usual inventive orchestral arrangements, as well as acting as the evening’s compère, a welcome innovation for these concerts, as was the film.


The imaginative structuring of the student pieces and the kids’ mastery of their intricacies were impressive, as always. The count-down to lift-off of Derby College’s instrumental Diabolic Parabola included some subtle canonic touches. Gravity, Don’t Ground Me, sang the children of Beckett Primary School; their opposite numbers from Firs Estate Primary school introduced us to the unpleasant creatures living On the Dark Side of the Moon; Chellaston Academy’s instrumental Power of Five included some impressive solo and small group moments. In another new feature, the audience had a role to play, with the ‘clapping chorus in three groups’ in the song Ratio 345, about gear ratios and their overlapping patterns, as well as joining in the call ‘load, effort, fulcrum, distance!’ that punctuated the final song, Levers, by James Redwood with words by Hazel Gould.


With Dutch conductor Frank Zielhorst making his Sinfonia Viva debut, the orchestra added its own contributions. The interlocking patterns of Michael Torke’s Adjustable Wrench were neatly dovetailed, the mid-air ending left hanging delightfully. Workers’ Union, by Louis Andriessen, requires the orchestra to combine tightly disciplined rhythmic playing with a choice of actual notes from only approximate notation, with compelling results. The perpetual-motion machine that is the finale of Ravel’s G major Violin Sonata, in Graham Hall’s imaginative orchestration, was kept spinning purposefully and, as a counterbalance, the first movement of Brahms’ Serenade No 1 brought some open-air freshness to the evening.


With so much uncertainty facing musical activity in schools, Viva’s residencies remain a cause for celebration.


Review by Mike Wheeler