Atlas Residency 2024

The Atlas Ensemble is hosting a second residency at Oranjewoud Festival with an entirely new formation: sixteen wind players and two percussionists from all over the world. It is part of a multi-year project initiated by Oranjewoud Festival and developed together with composer Joël Bons. In 2019, Bons won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, for his composition Nomaden. The Atlas Project is a follow-up to this and aims at the step-by-step development of a transcultural Atlas Orchestra, consisting of over 40 musicians. An unheard sound world is being unlocked. On June 21, 2025, the orchestra will debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw during the NTR ZaterdagMatinee in collaboration with the Holland Festival.

Atlas Premiere

Sun June 2, 3 p.m. - Koetshuis Klein Jagtlust

Like last year, the premiere concert in 2024 will consist of a colorful series of new compositions by Joël Bons. These have been specially commissioned by Oranjewoud Festival and composed for a unique collective of top musicians and instruments from different cultures. While last year the focus was on string instruments, this year it is the turn of a literally unheard-of arsenal of wind instruments plus percussion. The concert promises to be a succession of diverse pieces for bamboo flutes, double reeds and mouth organs, ranging from dreamy to intense, from melancholy to brilliant, from intimate solos to powerful transcultural wind orchestra. You won't know what you're hearing!

More information and tickets

Watch last year's videos

Joël Bons 283 Strings - Atlas Ensemble, Oranjewoud Festival May 29, 2023
Joël Bons 283 Strings suite (7 short pieces) - Atlas Ensemble, Oranjewoud Festival May 29, 2023

Presentation concerts Atlas Soloists

Leading up to the premiere concert on June 2, you can learn about some of the instruments from Asia and the Middle East that make up the Atlas Ensemble:


This concert will feature the related mouth organs sheng and sho. The star players are from China and Japan, Zifan Dai, Weng Ziyi (both sheng) and Naomi Sato (sho) - Museum Belvédère, vMay 31st from 2 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 3:30 p.m.

This item is not sold separately but is part of Expedition Friday.

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Photo Henriette Guest


This concert features the top musicians Hyelim Kim on the Korean daegum and Shavkat Matyoqubov on the Uzbek koushnai - Museum Belvédère, zaterday June 1 from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.

This component is not sold separately but is part of Expedition Saturday.

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Meet the related duduk, guanzi and the piri. The musicians are star soloists from Armenia, China and Korea: Gevorg Dabaghian (duduk/zurna), Guo Yazhi(guanzi/suona) and Gamin Kang (piri/taepyeonso) - Koetshuis Klein Jagtlust, zaterday, June 1, from 6:45 to 8 p.m.

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Read more about these instruments

The sheng is a Chinese mouth organ. The body is a bowl made of metal, wood or a gourd. The instrument has a blowpipe and 17 to 36 bamboo or metal pipes protruding from the top of the bowl. The elegant symmetrical arrangement of the pipes refers to the two folded wings of the mythical bird Phoenix. Each pipe has a hole in the bowl on the side topped with a metal tongue that interrupts the flow of air. The sheng produces a remarkably clear, metallic sound. Western harmonicas, tongue organs and concertinas use the same basic acoustic principles as the sheng. Mouth organs similar to the sheng first appear in Chinese texts from the 14th to 12th centuries BC. Today, the sheng is mainly used to play Chinese classical music in small and large ensembles with other instruments such as the pipa (vertical plucked instrument) and erhu (Chinese violin). The sheng has a relative in Japan: the sho.

The sho is a Japanese musical instrument with a free reed introduced from China during the Nara period (from 710 to 794). It is modeled after the Chinese sheng, but is usually smaller in size. It consists of 17 slender bamboo pipes, each with a metal free reed at the base. Two of the pipes make no sound, although research shows that they were used in certain music during the Heian period (794 to 1185). The sound of the instrument is said to imitate the call of a phoenix, and it is for this reason that the sho's two mute pipes have been retained as an aesthetic element, creating two symmetrical "wings. Like the Chinese sheng, the pipes are carefully tuned with a drop of wax. Because moisture that accumulates in the sho's pipes blocks the sound, musicians often warm the instrument over a small charcoal stove when they are not playing. The instrument produces sound when the player's breath is breathed in or out, allowing long periods of uninterrupted playing. The sho is one of the three main woodwind instruments used in gagaku, the music of the Japanese imperial court. The traditional playing technique in gagaku involves the use of tone clusters called aitake, which gradually move from one to the other and accompany the melody. 

The daegeum is a large bamboo flute that dates back to seventh-century Silla. It is one of three flutes, the large daegeum, the medium-sized junggeum and the small sogeum. The daegeum has one blowhole, six finger holes and an additional opening covered by a thin membrane. The instrument produces a distinctive buzzing sound that is both refined and gentle.

The koushnai is a reed wind instrument made of two coupled reed pipes twenty centimeters long. The koushnai has a very distinct sound: due to the use of two bamboo stems, there is a microtonal vibration between the two notes. The range is d1-c3 (d3). The koushnai is not a virtuoso instrument like the flute. The technique is akin to that of the duduk.

The Armenian duduk is one of the oldest double reed instruments in the world. Over the centuries, the duduk has traveled to many neighboring countries and undergone subtle changes, such as its specific tuning and number of holes. Today, variations of the duduk can be found in Georgia (duduki), Azerbaijan (balaban), Turkey (mey), Persia and the Balkans. The basic form has changed little in its long history. Originally, like many early flutes, the instrument was made of bone. Today, the body is made of apricot wood. The duduk is a deceptively simple instrument. Its range is an octave and a quarter. It is untempered and diatonic and available in several keys. The duduk's velvety, melancholy sound and wide dynamic range have made it popular for a variety of musical genres. Traditionally, it is played in small ensembles, often in duet with frame drums such as the daf, in lyrical songs and dances. Today, it is also played in larger professional ensembles and in urban clubs.

This double reed instrument is related to the duduk and is often used in funerals, weddings, regional opera, temple and folk music. It is usually made of ebony, rosewood or red sandalwood, with metal rings around the ends as decoration. Unlike the Western oboe or the much younger Chinese suona, both conical instruments, the guanzi has a cylindrical bore. That partly explains its clarinet-like sound. The reed is quite hard compared to an oboe reed. The instrument has 7 holes on the front, and one or two thumb holes. The guanzi is made in different sizes and keys and is usually between 25 and 30 centimeters long. Some modern guanzi have valves to make it easier to play in different keys. 

The Korean piri is a double reed instrument used in folk music and classical court music. The instrument is usually made of bamboo, and has a cylindrical bore, giving it a softer sound than other types of oboes. One of the most distinctive sounds of the piri is the rich vibrato and glissando used. A typical piri has eight finger holes, with seven on the front, and the remaining on the back for the thumb. There are four types of piri: hyang (village) piri, se (thin) piri, dang (Chinese) piri and dae piri, each suitable for use in a different type of music. Hyang piri is the longest and most common form of piri. Because of its loud and nasal tone, it usually plays the main melody in ensemble settings. The se piri is smaller, thinner and much softer, therefore often used in conjunction with vocals or soft stringed instruments. The dang piri is wider and similar to the Chinese guanzi. The North Korean dae piri a modernized piri with keys and a bell and looks much more like a Western oboe. 

Performers Atlas 2024

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Oranjewoud Festival is a low-threshold, multifaceted and stimulating music festival in the fairytale parkland of Oranjewoud near Heerenveen (Friesland) | May 30 to June 2, 2024

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