Joel Bons

Composer Joël Bons was born in Amsterdam. He studied guitar and composition in Amsterdam, Siena and Freiburg. His music has been performed by international top soloists, ensembles and orchestras. In 2016 the premiere of the large scale Nomaden was a highlight at festivals such as the Venice Biennale and Cello Biennale Amsterdam. Written for master cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the intercultural Atlas Ensemble this work won the 2019 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The Award is often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize of music’ The New York Times

Nomaden is released on BIS Records. 

Recent commissions include Thirty Situations for the Nieuw Ensemble, soprano, trombone, jazz drums, electric guitar and electronics, Mokum for Score Collective, Blaasbalg for the Cellofestival Zutphen, Six Scenes for Calefax and Bounce for the Ruysdael Quartet. In September 2022 Bons’ Cello concert Trailblazer – commissioned and performed by cellist Lidy Blijdorp and the Residentie Orkest – premiered in The Hague and was highly praised.

Joël Bons co-founded the Nieuw Ensemble, was for ten years the group’s guitarist and then became its artistic director responsible for virtually all programming. In 1998 Bons and the Nieuw Ensemble were awarded the Prince Bernhard Fund Music Prize for their ‘markedly lively and adventurous programming which can be described as ground breaking, both in the literal and figurative senses of the word’. 

In 2002 Bons founded the Atlas Ensemble, a unique chamber orchestra uniting musicians from China, Japan, Iran, India, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Turkey and Europe. For his work with the Atlas Ensemble Joël Bons was granted the prestigious Amsterdam Prize for the Arts 2005. The same year he became professor of composition at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In 2009 Bons founded the Atlas Academy/Lab, a laboratory for the creation of intercultural music.  

Premiere of Trailblazer, performed by cellist Lidy Blijdorp and the Residentie Orkest conducted by Leonard Elschenbroich in the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague on September 10, 2022. (Radio 4)