Dutch composer Joel Bons has won the 2019 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for Nomaden, a one-hour work for cello solo and an ensemble of instruments from diverse cultures. Bons, 65, wrote the piece for French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Atlas Ensemble, a group of 18 musicians from Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Luxembourgian percussionist Laurent Warnier is a member of this ensemble.

Besides cello, the work incorporates a wide array of Asian instruments. “Nomaden is not a traditional concerto but a work for cello and instruments from cultures around the world,” Bons said. “I imagined an unlimited potential of combinations and an unheard spectrum of timbres. My aim was to create a piece in which the musicians and the instruments, in all their cultural differences, could bloom in full glory.”

He founded Atlas Ensemble in 2002 and continues to serve as its artistic director.


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