The North Sea String Quartet is one of the most versatile string quartets of the Netherlands. Their blend of world music, combining their own compositions with improvisation, could be defined as folk-fusion. These are strings that will make you move.
The quartet was established in Rotterdam in 2016 by violinists Karin van Kooten and Pablo Rodriguez, violist Yanna Pelser and cellist Thomas van Geelen. Apart from their classical background, they share a passion for folk music from South America, Europe and Africa, as well as jazz. With the use of innovative playing techniques, they manage to translate these musical worlds to the string quartet, as heard on their first two EP’s “The Kitchen Sessions” (2017) and “Feldwerk” (2018).
Apart from their own work, the NSSQ loves to join creative forces with other artists. They made a beautiful program of Brazilian music with singer Lílian Vieira, which has staged at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Dutch national television show Podium Witteman. Their collaboration with American singer and violist Roland Satterwhite, which took the group to venues in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, resulted in their most recent EP, the poetic and Delta Blues inspired “Songs for Flying” (2019).
Furthermore, the NSSQ greatly values inspiring the younger generation of string players. They have given several improvisation workshops to children in and outside the Netherlands, and collaborated multiple times with the Canarian youth orchestra Barrios Orquestados. In 2019, together with world renowned violinist Tim Kliphuis, they founded the Academy of Improvising Strings, an annual workshop weekend for string players in the Netherlands.
Karin van Kooten, born in Raalte (The Netherlands), recalls her earliest childhood memories all being connected to music, and was drawn to the violin from a young age. She started studying with Nico Dezaire and continued her studies in classical violin at the conservatory in Tilburg, with Jenny Spanoghe, where she graduated in 2008. When someone one day showed her a recording of jazz violin legend Stéphane Grappelli, she started seeing the violin in a new light. It was the beginning of an ongoing journey that has taken her to the borders of musical styles and beyond, discovering unexpected possibilities of the violin and exploring jazz, swing, improvisation and folk music at a deeper level. She took lessons with Oene van Geel and Tim Kliphuis and finally moved to Paris after her studies, where she was taught by Didier Lockwood and developed her unique way of playing, mainly inspired by wind players.
For the last few years she has been active as a player and a teacher in different settings, working in a duo with Reinier Voet and coaching aspiring improvisers every year at Grappelli-Django Camp in The Netherlands, a workshop weekend in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli.
Being raised in a small farm town and forever a lover of streams, trees and fields, Karin feels happiest outdoors, surrounded by nature. Furthermore she has always been a keen dancer and practices qigong every day.
Born in La Palma, Canary Islands, Pablo Rodríguez started to play the violin at the age of 6. Six years later, when one of his sisters gave him a Stephane Grappelli recording, he was enormously fascinated and quickly started to self-develop his own jazz language on the violin. This development turned out to be very useful in other music styles such as flamenco, folk and latin. Pablo has performed at several recordings, jazz venues and concert halls such as Heineken Jazz & más, Mercat de la música viva de Vic, Amsterdam Music Festival, Ateneo de Madrid, Auditorio Tenerife, Escola Tom Jobim (Brazil), De Doelen and the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium.
Besides his passion for jazz and improvisation, he studied classical violin in Madrid with violinist Alfredo García Serrano and in Codarts Rotterdam with András Czifra. At Codarts he also finished his master studies in Latin jazz with Christiaan van Hemert, Abel Marcel, Niti Ranjan Biswas and Anna Elis de Jong.
He has collaborated with a variety of artists such as Irene Álvarez (Cuadro Flamenco), DOT Quartet, Jose Manuel León, Gordan Nikolić, Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent, Pedro Díaz, Ima Galguén (arranger & composer), Pedro Sanz, Kike Perdomo, NEI-L, Voodrish, Nacho Aldeguer, Tim Kliphuis, Juan Carlos Pérez Brito, Domingo “Colorao” and Inma Galiot.
When Yanna Pelser, born in Delft, heard a recording of Händel’s ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ at the age of 5, her eyes started to sparkle. From this moment her love for music became clear and her parents decided to let her take violin lessons. In several (youth) orchestras she discovered the most beautiful orchestral music in the major concert halls of Europe while growing into an experienced orchestra and chamber musician. Drawn by the depth and warmth of the viola sound, she swapped her violin for a viola at the age of 14.
She studied classical viola at the conservatory of Rotterdam with Gisella Bergman and at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold with Diemut Poppen and Corinne Contardo. She took masterclasses from renowned violists/violinists such as Garth Knox, Hartmut Rohde, Tatjana Masurenko and Gordan Nikolic. A highlight in her musical career was sharing the stage with the Polar Prize winning percussionist Evelyn Glennie, whom she admires for her special approach to music.
Jazz-, pop- and world music are just as important to Yanna as is classical music. She is a versatile folk musician, active in several bands such as Voodrish, Claxoneros and Ikarai and has collaborated with singer-songwriters Karsu, Celine Cairo and Flip Noorman. Yanna is often asked for studio work: she has recorded for David Guetta, Celine Dion, Will.I.Am and many more.
Thomas van Geelen, born in Tilburg, started playing the cello aged ten with teacher Frank Spronk. In high school he got more and more drawn to other musical genres, progressive rock in particular. He taught himself to play the guitar and started playing in bands and with singer-songwriters. After studying Journalism, he decided to take his music making to a professional level.
He studied classical cello at the conservatory of Tilburg with Monique Heidema and Jan-Ype Nota and took masterclasses from Maria Kliegel, Gerhard Mantel, Johannes Moser, Roland Pidoux and Alisa Weilerstein among others. Eventually he chose to combine his classical studies with jazz, to give way to his non- classical background. Lessons followed with Tim Kliphuis, Mark Summer, Jörg Brinkmann, Oene van Geel and Eric van der Westen. Meanwhile he also took some arranging lessons with Jasper Staps. Thomas is currently studying at the Codarts conservatory in Rotterdam with Marius Beets and Jarmo Hoogendijk, to further develop his jazz playing. In 2016, Thomas was selected to give a carte blanche concert in the Hijgend Hert Jazz Club in Breda. For this special concert he invited Oene van Geel, Aron Raams and Jeroen Pek to play his own music.