Anton van Houten (1978)

trombonist at Ensemble Klang, 9×13, the Ballet Orchestra, freelance

business director of Stichting Ensemble Klang | founder of 9×13

As a musician, performer, cultural entrepreneur and business director, I have been deeply embedded in the cultural field for over a decade. Next to my work as a trombonist with Ensemble Klang, 9×13, the Ballet Orchestra and many other ensembles and orchestras in The Netherlands, I find myself strongly involved in the innovative field of the arts, building projects with various partners on interdisciplinary levels, and creating ties with new audiences while furthering the dialogue with current listeners.

After graduating as a social scientist at the University of Utrecht in 2002 – in the field of organisation, management and labour – my side step to studying trombone, at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, to experience a professional musical environment grew into something significant. Inspired by a huge team of trombone teachers (Tim Dowling, Brandt Attema, Charles Toet, Pete Saunders and Arthur Moore), a very present and lively composition department and a supporting educational climate with lots of ensemble and orchestral projects, I extended my one-year project by six more years, graduating with a 9 ½ with distinction for musical integrity in 2009. Looking back, the initial side step incorporated the start of my musical career, not only as a musician but also in setting up projects and collaborations on many levels.

Alongside my work in orchestras (with the Balletorchestra – in productions with the National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater – and also freelancing with groups such as the Residence Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra), I have been active in various smaller ensembles in the field of contemporary music, including the ASKO|Schönberg Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, De Volharding, Maarten Altena Ensemble, Modelo ’62, New European Ensemble, Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, David Kweksilber Big Band and Ensemble Palatino on baroque trombone.

During my time at the Royal Conservatoire we founded Ensemble Klang (2004), in which I not only play trombone, but where I also take the role of business director. Working on building long-term relationships with composers, lots of them from our generation, Ensemble Klang dedicates itself to musical adventures into the unknown. We perform across The Netherlands in various venues and festivals (such as the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Korzo Theater, De Doelen, Anton Philipszaal, Holland Festival, November Music), and we regularly take our repertoire on tour abroad (we have performed in the United States, England, Scotland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Austria, Croatia, to name a few), and our music – recorded on the Ensemble Klang label – is broadcast all around the world.

More recently, I founded 9×13; a neo-fanfare that mixes contemporary music with a taut, theatrical choreography, and brings it to new audiences at music and theatre festivals. With 9×13, I want to bring back the energy and joy of performing (we all started at our local brass bands but find ourselves nowadays on bigger stages, formally-dressed, performing heavy romantic masterworks and seated at a distance from the audience in large concert halls). With 9×13, we all go back to our roots; we simply unpack our instrument and play! The festive and social function of the Dutch fanfare (marching band) is transformed and evolved into the contemporary classical music world, spiced up and strongly attached to a theatrical viewpoint, provided by the best and most promising young directors and choreographers. It is cross-over, pop-up and outside the box, festive and low-key, theatrical with a contemporary twist.

With 9×13 and Ensemble Klang, the groups to which I feel mostly connected, I cover new ground, they push me out of my comfort zone, demanding that I explore and redefine my musicianship over and over again. While letting me do great projects I develop exciting collaborations, and am directly involved in progress in the field of music.

© picture by Jasper van Gheluwe

With my orchestral work, mainly as a part-time employee at the Ballet Orchestra, I maintain my classical craftsmanship and orchestral playing in amazing full-scale productions with the best partners in our field, at the same time enjoying a team of gifted and supporting colleagues, not only in Amsterdam – the home town of the Ballet Orchestra – but also with my other colleagues in the many orchestras in the Netherlands.

I am a happy man.