The Gauguin Ensemble was founded by clarinetist Yfynke Hoogeveen and pianist Loes van Ras. Since almost 25 years these musicians have been performing many concerts in the Netherlands as well as abroad. They played concerts in tv and radio shows, and made several recordings. From 2007 until 2010, Van Ras and Hoogeveen were appointed as ambassadors for Classical Music in the North of the Netherlands. For decades, the duo has been a solid foundation for many concerts in which they collaborate on a regular basis with colleagues, who feel empowered by the nature and strength of their music-making. They worked together with amongst others violinists Philippe Graffin, Peter Brunt, Jacobien Rozemond, cellists Larissa Groeneveld and Mayke Rademakers, and soprano Irene Maessen. In 2020 they played some concerts with cellist Karlien Bartels, with whom they felt an immediate musical fit. Shortly after, they invited her to join the ensemble as a permanent member, in order to consolidate and strengthen their core.

The Gauguin Ensemble is known for its often uncommon and unique programming, in which they combine the more traditional chamber music repertoire with contemporary music. For years the ensemble is trying to contribute to the upcoming decompartmentalization in culture by creating projects with artists from other art forms such as ‘Galili Dance guided by Guy Weizman, visual artist Dineke Beereboom, a DJ and (comic book) writers. Because of their original approach they often reach a varied audience. In 2012, they collaborated with students from the Academy of the Arts – Minerva – in Groningen, whom they requested to produce short animation movies about composers, to serve as an introduction for their concert program. In 2016, the ensemble collaborated with artist Barbara Stok who transformed paintings of Paul Gauguin into comic illustrations on large boards, to serve as a decor during their concerts. 

Educational projects and concerts for children are essential to the ensemble as well. Amongst others, they created the interactive performance ‘Travelling with Mozart’, which was received with great enthusiasm throughout the Netherlands.

Contemporary composers such as Wim Dirriwachter and Sylvia Maessen have been writing for the Gauguin Ensemble: Wim Dirriwachter dedicated his ‘Four Movements’ to them (1995 Edition Donemus). For the ensemble’s 20th anniversary, Sylvia Maessen wrote ‘Correspondances’ (2016). In 2019, the ensemble commissioned Sylvia Maessen to write another composition, in honor of the 200th anniversary year of the birth of Clara Schumann. The new piece ‘Clara’ was premiered on 18 October 2019.

The very meaning of making music for the Gauguin Ensemble is all about creating contrasts, depth and tension, playing with passion and temperament. The reference to the painter Paul Gauguin was an obvious choice for the ensemble; this painter remains flamboyant and intriguing in his catching colors and mysticism. The neurological phenomenon of ‘synesthesia’ (’tasting’ colors, or ‘seeing’ sounds) is very tangible in his art. In an interview with L’Écho de Paris published on 15 March 1895, Gauguin explains that his developing tactical approach is reaching for synesthesia. He states:

“Every feature in my paintings is carefully considered and calculated in advance. Just as in a musical composition, if you like. My simple object, which I take from daily life or from nature, is merely a pretext, which helps me by the means of a definite arrangement of lines and colours to create symphonies and harmonies. (…) they do not give direct expression to any idea, their only purpose is to stimulate the imagination – just as music does without the aid of ideas or pictures – simply by that mysterious affinity which exists between certain arrangements of colours and lines and our minds.”

NB. Karlien Bartels plays a cello by C.A. Miremont (1882), a kind loan from the ‘Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds’, Amsterdam.