Simon Van Holen, Solo-Contrabassoon of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra enjoys a rich musical career made up of divers performing, recording and teaching engagements. He has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luzern Festival Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and is regularly invited as both a soloist and teacher in Europe and Asia.
Born in Belgium, Simon Van Holen received his first bassoon lessons at the age of eight. Although not yet big enough to master the instrument his ambition was well defined. In 2003, Van Holen entered The Royal Conservatory in The Hague and went on to complete his studies in 2010 at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf, graduating with the Highest Distinction under the tutelage of Prof. Gustavo Núñez. He further enriched his studies with Brian Pollard, Klaus Thunemann, Dag Jensen, Stefan Schweigert, Sergio Azzolini and Marion Reinhard.
Van Holen’s career as a professional orchestral musician began even before completing his musical studies. He has been a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchester, and has been invited to play in the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra de l’ Opera de Rouen and the Norrköpings Symfoniorkester. In 2007 he won the Academy Position with the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker where he was later appointed Solo-Contrabassoonist in 2011.
An active chamber musician since a young age, Van Holen became the recipient of the prestigious ‘Villa-Musica Rheinland-Pfalz’ Scholarship. He also took part in the Zermatt Festival Academy and the Gustav Mahler Academy, and had the pleasure of performing with some of the most legendary musicians such as Menahem Pressler, Ingo Goritzki, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Jürgen Kussmaul and Wolfgang Boettcher.
In 2013, Simon Van Holen was awarded the prize ‘Prix de Salon’ by the business circle of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for his extraordinary musicianship. The award made it possible for the commission of a new work for contrabassoon and stringquintet by Dutch composer Kees Olthuis and the recording of his debut-album ‘Pro Contra!’, which has been released at Challenge Records.
Aside from his orchestral career, Simon Van Holen is Professor for Bassoon and Contrabassoon at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and regularly gives masterclasses around the globe. In October 2017 he has also been appointed contrabassoon teacher at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Cologne.