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Martijn Dendievel

A young Flemish conductor has been appointed as the new chief conductor of Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen


Young, Flemish and a rising star in the orchestral world, Martijn Dendievel (born 1995) will be the new chief conductor of Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen (Flanders Symphony Orchestra) in Belgium. Dendievel has already taken some important career steps with the orchestra, which is based at De Bijloke in Ghent. As chief conductor from January 2026, he will have the task of further developing the orchestra artistically to a top international level.

Martijn Dendievel. Photo © Clara Evens
Martijn Dendievel. Photo © Clara Evens

Martijn Dendievel will join Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen as chief conductor for at least three seasons, starting in January 2026. CEO Jos Roeden says:

Martijn symbolises what the Flanders Symphony Orchestra wants to stand for: proud of its origins, approachable, ambitious, locally anchored but with an international reach.

The selection committee unanimously chose Dendievel from an international field of conductors to succeed Kristiina Poska, who will leave the orchestra in October 2025 after six seasons. Dendievel's task will be to continue the artistic growth achieved under Poska and to expand the orchestra's role both in Flanders and internationally with a wide range of projects.

Despite only being twenty-eight years old, Dendievel brings with him a wealth of experience and an extensive international network. After winning the prestigious German Conductors' Prize in 2021, his international breakthrough came with guest appearances with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, Copenhagen Philharmonic and the Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna, among others. Martijn is a regular guest conductor with orchestras such as the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale Bologna, the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and the Sinfonia Varsovia. From the 2024-2025 season, Dendievel will also be chief conductor of the Hofer Symphoniker.

The choice of Martijn Dendievel by Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen came as no surprise. Growing up in Flanders, the orchestra has always played a key role in Dendievel's musical development: first as a young listener in the audience, then as an assistant conductor from 2018 and as an associate conductor from 2023. Over the past few years, the orchestra's musicians have seen him grow into a man with all the qualities to take over as chief conductor of Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen: motivated, sensitive, good-humoured and with an impressive musical depth.

Through Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen talent development programmes, Dendievel has been able to grow into one of the best conductors of his generation. It is unique in the international orchestral world that an orchestra produces its own chief conductor. Denievel says:

It is thanks to Flanders Symphony Orchestra that I am where I am today as a conductor. The feedback, support and open conversations with all members of the orchestra have made me a better conductor and a better person. I am very excited about the future with this orchestra.

Martijn Dendievel is the first Belgian in twenty years to be appointed to the prestigious post of chief conductor of a Belgian symphony orchestra. Orchestras often look beyond their own borders for their chief conductor, but CEO Jos Roeden comments:

Sometimes, however, the exceptional talents are close to home. I consider Martijn to be one of the revelations of the international classical music world and am proud of his appointment as future chief conductor. Flanders Symphony Orchestra is in a state of transition. We are innovating our programming in order to increase our social impact. Martijn symbolises what the Flanders Symphony Orchestra wants to stand for: proud of its origins, approachable, ambitious, locally anchored but with an international reach. On the solid musical foundation laid by Kristiina Poska, Martijn can now continue to build.

President of the Board, Geert Dhondt, remarks:

Since becoming the orchestra's Assistant Conductor and then Associate Conductor over five years ago, we have seen Martijn Dendievel grow as a conductor into the exceptionally strong musical personality that we believe makes him the outstanding future Chief Conductor of the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen. Together with the Board, I look forward to seeing where Martijn will take the orchestra in the coming years.

Martijn Dendievel, born in Oostende in 1995, hails from a family of musicians. He began playing violin at the age of three, switched to cello four years later and received formative lessons at the Conservatorium Brugge and Royal Conservatory in Brussels. He progressed to study conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar, during which time he won the 2021 German Conductors' Award, was prizewinner of the LSO Donatella Flick Competition, and took part in the first Conductors' Academy of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

In June 2022, he became a prize-winner at the inaugural International Conducting Competition Rotterdam. Dendievel made his international breakthrough as a guest with, among others, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna and Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano. He is a regular guest conductor with the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale Bologna, the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and Sinfonia Varsovia, and has also lead orchestras such as the Bamberg Symphony, Dresdner Philharmonie, Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Antwerp Symphony, Belgian National Orchestra, MDR Orchester Leipzig, Concerto Köln, Philzuid and PHION. He was appointed Chief Conductor of the Hofer Symphoniker and will begin his tenure there at the start of the 2024-25 season.

Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen is one of Belgium's leading orchestras. Composed of highly committed and passionate musicians and led by renowned conductors, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen both commissions and performs new compositions as well as presenting electrifying renditions of the main symphonic repertoire from the classical period onwards.

Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen. Photo © Kaupo Kikkas
Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen. Photo © Kaupo Kikkas

Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen fulfils an exemplary role in creating opportunities for young and talented musicians, composers, soloists and conductors. It also makes music from past and present accessible to the widest and most diverse audience possible in Flanders and beyond. In addition to its concert series in Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen is a welcome guest at national and international venues.

Posted 28 April 2024 by Keith Bramich



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