The Violist

Photo Govert Driessen
Zapp4 - Photo Florian Ganzefoort

Composer / viola player Oene van Geel (1973) is a musical adventurer. Influenced by jazz, Indian music, chamber music and free improvisation, he uses his virtuoso improvisation skills and his talent for composition for a wide range of musical activities.

He has toured Europe, the Middle East, India, Japan, the United States and Canada.

As a player he is currently active with the following ensembles / bands: Estafest, The Nordanians, Haanstra & van Geel, in duo with pianist Philipp Rüttgers in duo with dancer Miri Lee and in trio with Goda Zukauskaite (dance) and Rob van den Broek (visual artist). In addition to playing with these formations, he is regularly invited as an improvising guest soloist.

He received the VPRO Boy Edgar Prize (2013), the Sena Performers Toonzetters Prize (2012, with Zapp4), the Kersjes Prize (2005, with Zapp4), the Deloitte Jazz Award (2002), the Dutch Jazz Competition (2001) and the Jur Music Prize Naessens Music Prize (2000).

Photo Thomas Huisman

The Composer

Composing is currently the main activity of Oene. He is most active in music theater and chamber music. He composed for: Dutch National Opera, Pynarello, The Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Holland Opera, Liza Ferschtman + Calefax, Frederieke Saeijs, Niladri Kumar, The Dudok Quartet, The David Kweksilber Big Band, The Osiris Trio, Emlyn Stam + New European Ensemble, Black Pencil Ensemble, Amstel Quartet, Nizar Rohana, Remy van Kesteren and Eric Vloeimans, Erik Bosgraaf, Steven Kamperman Quintet, Jeugdorkest Nederland, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Matangi Quartet, Calefax, Tetzepi bigtet, the Ricciotti Ensemble, Nicolay Shugaev, David Braid and many others.

Oene also regularly writes for festivals such as: Bach Festival Dordrecht (2020), The Amsterdam Viola Festival (2017), The Dutch Violin Competition (2016 edition), Cello Biennale Amsterdam (2008 and 2016 edition), Anniversary Osiris Trio (2014), the Storioni Festival (2013), Orlando Festival (2012), the North Sea Jazz Festival (2005), SJU Jazz Festival (2002), Marathon Festival Oosterpoort (2002).


The combination of different disciplines is a fascinating working environment for Oene.

As a composer and musician he has been involved in productions of: De Nationale Opera ('Bewogen Bewegen' in 2016 and 'Hondenhartje' in 2017), Silbersee, Wervelwind Ensemble, Boukje Schweigman, Kalpanarts, Theun Mosk, Eric Vaarzon Morel, Saartje van Camp, Herman van Baar, Marcel Sijm, de Wëreldbänd, Holland Opera (3 productions), Udo Prinsen and Theater Sonnevanck.


Oene's special interest is also collaboration with dance. He regularly collaborates with dancer / choreographer Goda Zukauskaite, Kenzo Kusuda and choreographer Heather Ware.

Oene has been a member of the Nieuw Geneco since December 2016.

Press Quotes

If you have seen Van Geel play, you know his sparkling, enthusiastic way of playing is contagious. The VPRO / Boy Edgar Prize 2013 goes to an unorthodox and therefore excellent ambassador of jazz.

Trouw 5-3-2013, Mischa Andriessen

One of the Dutch participants is Oene van Geel, a true free spirit in jazz who looks beyond genres.

NRC Handelsblad 8-3-2012, Amanda Kuyper about Take Five Europe

It was a breathtaking concert where Oene van Geel's The King's Son was the absolute highlight. This composition is a pearl, a lotus flower that floats on rippleless pond of the Indian king Vikamajita.

Jazzenzo 15-5-2009, Rinus van der Heijden about Estafest.

Van Geel's violin skills are a phenomenon. He plucks his instrument, plays it like a bass or as a guitar and he uses effects such as a wah-wah pedal. With him that is no gimmick, it is totally supporting the music. The violin player stands above his instrument and its tradition. Every subtle thought is translated into music. To improvise free from pre-fixed patterns is something only a few can do.

De Volkskrant, Koen Schouten 12-12-2005

I know little about the young Dutch musician Oene van Geel, who plays viola on this record (Phonetics – Benoit Delbecq Unit), but he seems to be coming to his long lines from having studied Indian music. His improvised flow, with an unnervingly slow vibrato, is charismatic and powerful, even at very low volume.

The New York Times 20-6-2005, Ben Rattlif

... his Zapp String Quartet shows in Opener that mixing styles can lead to something beautiful. If Piazolla and Zappa would be on stage together it could have sounded like this…He also has an intense side as shown in Bela and Ig where the groove is not aiming to be danceable… Arvo en Jeff, a piece that has everything that music should have: length, depth and lots of soul.

NRC Handelsblad, Frans van Leeuwen 11-10-2003 about Chamber Groovea