When one thinks of a harpist, presumably images of delicately strumming nymphs with long blonde hair come to mind. But now there is Remy van Kesteren. He has won the 2013 US International Harp Competition, the largest harp competition in the world, has reached 500,000 visitors during the Night of the Proms and has taken on numerous ambitious projects, including a collaboration with the famous ballet choreographer, Hans van Manen, in 2014. At the age of five, Remy was lured off the swing by a mysterious sound from an open window – the sound of the harp. Aged ten, he entered the Conservatory of Utrecht and before he had finished his studies with the highest distinction, he could already look back on two successful editions of his own Dutch Harp Festival. Remy attributes his rapidly developing career to his former teacher, Erika Waardenburg, the purveyor of the Dutch harp scene. He does not feel bound to ‘prevailing ideas’ about the harp.
Remy van Kesteren (1989) is regarded a world-class harp talent and one of the most adventurous harpists of the moment. At the age of ten, he was admitted to the Conservatory of Utrecht in the class of Erika Waardenburg where he graduated with the highest distinction in 2010. He further pursued his studies at the Conservatoire Natoinal Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where he worked with the famous harpist Isabelle Moretti. In 2012, Remy received his master diploma ‘summa cum laude’ at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. At age twenty, Remy founded the Dutch Harp Festival, of which three successful editions have taken place in Utrecht. The Festival will be held for the fourth time in 2016.
Remy van Kesteren is only 27, but has already won numerous prizes. In 2013, he won the US International Harp Competition, one of the largest and most prestigious harp competitions in the world. In June 2016, Remy received the Dutch Music Prize, the highest accolade that can be awarded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) to a musician working in the field of classical music. Previously, Remy was proclaimed Dutch Music Talent of 2009 and received the Elisabeth Everts Prize (2012) and the Grachtenfestival Prize (2013), as well as first prizes at the Dutch Harp Competition and the Princess Christina Competition. He has also won prizes in International Harp Competitions in Moscow (2008) and Israel (2009). In 2012, Remy toured the Netherlands as a laureate of Dutch Classical Talent, a stimulation project of the Royal Concertgebouw and Radio 4.
His many prizes have resulted in worldwide concerts, from Europe to the US, Asia, South-America and Africa. He made his debut in the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam with the Dutch Chamber Orchestra at the early age of sixteen. The year before, Remy played at the baptism of Princess Amalia and performed a concert at Carnegie Hall (New York). In 2011, he was Young Artist in Residence at the NJO Muziekzomer in Gelderland and in 2012, Remy toured the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany in the famous ‘Night of the Proms’ concert tour. As its only classical artist, he performed alongside celebrated pop artists such as Anastacia and legendary group The Jacksons. 500,000 visitors were captivated by his performance of Smetana’s The Moldau. In the 2015-2016 season, Remy performed in major halls across Europe as part of the international Rising Stars European tour, at the invitation of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. Especially for this programme, Remy arranged Federico Mompou’s Musica Callada for himself and trumpeter Eric Vloeimans.
In 2012, Remy released his first solo-CD Remy, with works by Smetana, Holliger, Bach, Shostakovich and Renié. In 2014, his second CD Memento was released. For this disc, Remy chose music from Spain and Brazil and invited composer Martin Fondse to write new works that merged with the expressivity of these compositions. His third CD Tomorrow Eyes was released in January 2016, featuring mostly his own compositions. Tomorrow Eyes is a new, thrilling adventure. Creating something previously non-existent. As befits a true adventurer, he chooses his path off the beaten track. He collaborates with saxophone players and pianists, but new songs may emerge just as well from jam sessions, during traffic jams, at a dentist appointment. Remy crosses boundaries between genres and thus creates a new musical world.
On June 1st, 2016, Remy and his band, supplemented by several guest musicians, premiered his Tomorrow Eyes programme at the renowned pop music venue Paradiso Amsterdam, to a resounding success. Following this, Remy and his band are taking the programme on a tour to festivals, pop venues and music halls across the Netherlands, both in a solo setting as well as with a complete four-piece band.
“Remy van Kesteren is both musically, as well as technically, an exceptional musician.”
Jaap van Zweden, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Conductor of the Year
“A true revolution in the harp world.”
Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, De Wereld Draait Door
“Van Kesteren is an amazing colourist: he knows how to give every voice his own timbre and shows he is […] a marvellous storyteller.”
Frits van der Waa, de Volkskrant
“An outstanding musician with his heart in the right place, callouses on the fingers and an enormous dynamism.”
Peter van der Lint, Trouw
“Remy van Kesteren is regarded as one of the most adventurous harpists of this moment.”
Mark van de Voort, VPRO Gids
“Remy van Kesteren is a musician who sings with his harp, gets the most beautiful colours from his strings and tells stories with his instrument. The harp is not a purpose with him, but a means. You feel it with every note.”
Oswin Schneeweisz, Klassieke Zaken
“A young man with a big heart for his instrument, who does not care for genres and preconceptions. […] And every time van Kesteren continually forces you to listen very carefully.”
Paul Janssen, Luister
“Remy van Kesteren is a harp talent of world-class.”
Esther Wouters, Akkoord Magazine
“In two years the tickets for harpist Remy van Kesteren will be unaffordable. […] He is 23 years old and busy putting the world in his pocket. With beautiful music, his skilled hands and his sympathetic and enthusiastic personality.”
Marjolijn Sengers, Eindhovens Dagblad