Pamela Smits is the founder and Artistic Director of the Foundation Vriendenconcerten since 2013. She is the driving force and “heart and soul” of the concert series in the Zuiderkerk. With her expertise and versatile international career, she knows what it takes to perform on stage at the highest level. Playing music is her passion and she is happy to share it with her musical friends. She invites top musicians to perform at seven concerts per year and with their excellence and enthusiasm they create an intimate ambience in which they engage the audience.
Commissioned by the Board of the Foundation Vriendenconcerten, she gives shape to the concert series in the Zuiderkerk. For this season 2021/2022 she has invited violinist Tosca Opdam as Artist in Residence.
Canadian born Dutch cellist Pamela Smits has received wide acclaim for her phenomenal command of technique, expression and her distinctive musical presence and charisma. She enjoys a varied career, which combines appearances as a cello soloist, chamber musician and educator. “Smits’s technical wizardry is nothing short of amazing, but it’s secured in service to an equally instinctive musicality”-American Fanfare. Her extensive repertoire reflects her broad musical interests and encompasses works from the Baroque and Romantic periods to contemporary music.
She has toured extensively throughout Europe and elsewhere, performing in the United States, South America, the Antilles, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Israel and Finland, and played recitals in the kleine zaal of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Meistersaal in Berlin and at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. As a soloist she has appeared with orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, performing cello concertos by C.Ph.E. Bach, Beethoven's Tripleconcerto, Boccherini, van Gompel, Gulda, Händel for 2 cellos, Haydn, Hans Kox, Schumann, Tchaikovsky’s Rococovariations and Vivaldi for violin&cello.
She has several world-premières to her name. In 2013 she gave the world-premiere of the 2nd cello solo sonata by Hans Kox dedicated to her, and in 2014 the world premiere of the Requiem ‘Infinite Compassion’ by Dutch composer Frank van Gompel for cello solo, choir and orchestra, specially written for her.
“The Sonata, dedicated to her, fits her like a glove: musical extremes that demand great technical skill.. The soulful playing of Smits inexorably impresses that despair upon the listener...The last movement provides ample scope to Smits’ intuitive almost improvising way of playing.” -Haarlems Dagblad, the Netherlands.
In 2010 she was invited for three seasons by the Posthuis Theater in Heerenveen (Nl) to create her own annual series of 7 concerts; the ‘Pamela Smits and Friends Concerts’ where she performed with acclaimed artists like violinist Isabelle van Keulen and trumpettist Peter Masseurs and organized masterclasses. She regularly gives recitals, such as with German pianist Sabine Simon, with whom she has been collaborating for almost 25 years, performing in joint recitals in various tours together in the USA, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. She has been collaborating intensively with Dutch pianist Tobias Borsboom ever since 2017. Their playing was immediately met with great enthusiasm by the press and public : “ They enchanted with their playing ..There two poets of the keys and strings had found each other” . -Westdeutsche Zeitung, Germany.
She has recorded several CDs; All time Favourites with pianist Maarten den Hengst, Die Todesfrau by Hans Kox with flautist Abbie de Quant and the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Felix Austria and The French Cello with Sabine Simon. She recorded a CD with Tobias Borsboom, scheduled for release in 2021 to include pieces by Liszt, Bartók, Popper and Kodály Sonata for Solo Cello.
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Smits has collaborated with acclaimed artists such as the Miami String Quartet, clarinettist Michael Collins, pianists Paolo Giacometti and Jee Won Oh, violinists Isabelle van Keulen, Jaime Laredo, Lucian Leonard Raiciof, Elisabeth Perry and Daniel Rowland, and she is the founding cellist of the Pentachord Ensemble; with violinist Emi Ohi Resnick, violist Mikhail Zemtsov, double bass player Quirijn van Regteren Altena and pianist Maarten den Hengst; and the Voyager Trio, with saxophonist Arno Bornkamp and pianist Tobias Borsboom.
In 2008 she gave a masterclass via an at the time pioneering high speed internet connection in collaboration with Internet2, InHolland and the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, which was viewed at universities all over the world. She has given masterclasses in Germany, the United States and the Netherlands, such as at Duke University, Newark Academy in New York (USA), the NRC Café in Amsterdam (Netherlands), the Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt, and was for 4 seasons the cello and chamber music teacher of the summercourse at the Landesmusikakademie Hessen in Schlitz (Germany). Having taught since the age of 16, she also served as a teaching assistant to Jirí Prchal at the Stedelijk Conservatory Leeuwarden for three years. From 1994 to 1997, she was the principal cellist of the New World Symphony directed by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Ms. Smits studied with Czech cellist Jiří Prchal at Stedelijk Conservatory Leeuwarden, with Jean Decroos (principal cellist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the time) at Sweelinck Conservatory Amsterdam, and with Janos Starker at Indiana University, Bloomington (USA). She participated in summer courses and masterclasses given by Anner Bylsma, Lynn Harrell, Steven Isserlis, Paul Tortelier, Miloš Sádlo, Ivan Monighetti, Saša Večtomov Ivan Monighetti, Natalia Gutman and the renowned pianist/teacher György Sebök in Ernen, Switzerland.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
When violinist Tosca Opdam, born and raised in Amsterdam, decided to continue her studies in New York, a new world opened up for her. It shaped not only her musicianship, but every aspect of her life. Tosca now describes herself as “a product of two worlds”, embracing the idiosyncratic qualities of Europe and the United States to enrich a personal expressiveness in music.
Tosca Opdam won first prize in the prestigious Dutch Oskar Back Violin Competition 2011, performing Vieuxtemps’ Fifth Concerto. The jury noted her “beautifully sustained long lines” and “soloistic qualities”. She returned at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam for a sold-out debut recital and a performance in honor of the grand re-opening of the Rijksmuseum.
Commissioning ‘North Atlantic Light’
In 2017, the Toscata Foundation was established with the aim of promoting classical music worldwide through education, violin pedagogy, collaborations with other artistic disciplines, and the championing and commissioning of contemporary composers for performance in the Netherlands and beyond.
Tosca Opdam plays a Matteo Gofriller violin from 1700, which is generously on loan to her by a private collector.