Mike Fentross – artistic director & conductor


Mike Fentross is one of the best theorbo players in the world, and also a conductor of stature...

Opusklassiek

Conductor and lutenist Mike Fentross has largely earned his credits as an early music specialist. He is working all over Europe as a conductor, soloist and basso continuo player and he is professor of lute and basso continuo at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

In four decades of making music Mike Fentross has been a.o. inspired by performing chamber music with musicians such as Yo Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Janine Jansen, Marion Verbruggen, Philippe Jarousski, Ann Hallenberg, Lucy van Dael, Andreas Scholl, Skip Sempe and Gerard Lesne. He played many solo recitals, opera productions, recordings and concerts with La Sfera Armoniosa and other leading baroque ensembles.

photo: Eduardus Lee

In 1992 Mike Fentross founded the ensemble La Sfera Armoniosa with Paulina van Laarhoven, which later developed to both an ensemble and an orchestra. In 1994 he won the Van Wassenaer competition in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and in 1999 he debuted as a conductor. He forms a duo with jazz-musician Maarten Ornstein. For their adventurous musicianship and extraordinary collaborations they received in 2022 the prestigious Willem Breuker Price.

After studying conducting with Stefan Pas, Mike Fentross conducted in many festivals and concerthalls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. the Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival d’Ambronay, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, Paradiso Amsterdam, Monteverdi Festival Cremona, Festival de Musica Portico de Zamora, Festival Musica Antiqua Brugge, Vantaa Early Music Festival, Bayreuth Barock and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht. For two times he had the honour to conduct in the presence of Queen Beatrix of Holland.

He is a true conductor, not only in his movements, but also and especially in his musical thought, developed and original, which distinguishes him from many of his colleagues who are considered to be ‘primus inter pares’.

La Libre Belgique

Early in his career Mike Fentross won the Van Wassenaer Competition in Amsterdam with violinist Helene Schmitt. Which led to many collaborationsand playing chamber music with musicians as Yo Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Janine Jansen, Marion Verbruggen, Andreas Scholl, Maria Bajo, Wilbert Hazelzet, Bruce Dickey, Lucy van Dael, Philippe Jarousski, Eduardo Lopez Banzo, Skip Sempe and Gerard Lesne.

As conductor he debuted in 1999 with La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano in a production of the New Opera Academie in Amsterdam. In 2006 he conducted in the presence of Queen Beatrix the modern world premiere from the opera l’Ipermestra from Cavalli in a prestigeous jubilee production from the Utrecht Early Music Festival and in 2008 he conducted a second unearthed Cavalli opera La Rosinda in a production from the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam. In 2009 he conducted for the first time in the big hall from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and in the same year he was musical director in the production Granida performed in the presence of Queen Beatrix.

About his debut as conductor from the Dutch Chamber Choir in 2010 in the Concertgebouw the press wrote: “Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Nederlands Kamerkoor was a resounding success.”

Mike does not only conduct Early Music, in 2004 he conducted Pierrot Lunaire from Arnold Schoenberg. The press wrote: “There was great enthusiasm for Mike Fentross as conductor of a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Mike Fentross gave a performance of Pierrot lunaire that ‘appeared to come from another planet”

Since the 2010’s Mike made his Austrian debut in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with great success in a program with coloratura soprano Simone Kermes, conducted the pre jubilee concert for the Concertgebouw in a program
with solists Lucy van Dael (violin), Henk Neven (bariton) and Andreas Scholl (counter-tenor), the Paradiso Orchestra with Beethoven’s Eroica, the Netherlands Chamber Choir in the Purcell’s Fairy Queen and in a Bach- Faure program live broadcast on national radio and curated the Dutch Masters series for Challenge Records highlighting almost forgotten composers from the 17th and eighteenth century.

Mike Fentross is regularly conducting the baroque orchestra and choir of the Royal Conservatory.


In 2009 Mike conducted in the big hall from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw for the first time. About his debut conducting the Netherlands Chamber Choir in the Concertgebouw the press wrote: Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Netherlands Chambre Choir was a resounding success. NRC 2010


He was asked to conduct the pre-jubilee concert for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in a programme with solo violinist Lucy van Dael and singers Henk Neven and Andreas Scholl.
In 2018 he conducted a celebration concert with music from 1518, the 500th birthday of the St. Laurence Church in Alkmaar, in combination with music from the Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven.

Mike made his Austrian debut in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with great success in a programme with coloratura soprano Simone Kermes. He is regularly conducting the Baroque Orchestra and Choir of the Royal Conservatory The Hague and he was invited by Paradiso Orchestra to conduct Beethovens Eroica.

As a opera conductor he debuted in 1999 with La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano in a production of the New Opera Academy in Amsterdam. He reconstructed an early 17th century Dutch play with music ‘Granida’ which he conducted in the Amsterdam Schouwburg in the presence of the Dutch Queen Beatrix.

Mike Fentross conducted two operas from Francesco Cavalli that he unearthed from the Marciana library in Venice: again in the presence of Queen Beatrix the modern world premiere from l’Ipermestra in a prestigeous jubilee production from the Utrecht Early Music Festival and a second unearthed Cavalli opera La Rosinda in a production from Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam also performed in the baroque theatre in Bayreuth.

With the Netherlands Chamber Choir and his orchestra he performed Henry Purcell’s ‘The Fairy Queen’ and he was leading his orchestra in Monteverdi’s l’Orfeo in a production of the the Reisopera Enschede/Opera2Day. For the Utrecht Early Music Festival he created and conducted a fascinating semi-staged production, a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire.

In 2023 Mike will conduct an exciting program in cooperation with Denden Karadeniz’ Zero Dance Theatre for Maria Tesselschade’s Huwelijksfeest. The cooperation with Zero Dance Theatre will continue in the 2024-2025 season with Terpsichord, Praetorius meets Urban Contempory Dance.

Mike played or conducted on almost one hundred cd’s. Both Cavalli opera’s were released on cd. La Rosinda on the label Ludi Musici and La Rosinda on Challenge Records International.
In 2017 he recorded a Henry Purcell cd in the Philharmonie Essen with his orchestra and soprano Johannette Zomer . Specially for this project two copies of the trumpet of Purcell’s trumpet player John Bull were built.
In 2019 and 2021 he conducted and recorded two new programmes as part of a series of cd’s with music of (forgotten) Dutch composers. Concerti grossi by Willem de Fesch, work by Pieter Hellendaal and the ‘Concerti Armonici’ by Count Unico van Wassenaer with his ensemble, the third cd in the series (forgotten) Dutch composers.

CD Willem de Fesch Concerti Grossi

Mike Fentross is one of the best theorbo players in the world, and now also a conductor of stature…Again this De Fesch cd proves the outstanding quality of La Sfera Armoniosa…

Opusklassiek.nl 2021

Several of the concertos featured here have been recorded in the past, but performances of this calibre make a valuable gesture towards redressing undeserved neglect…

Classical-music.com 2021

During the lockdown in 2021 Mike recorded the second solo cd of his John Dowland trilogy:

special repertoire, performed in an extraordinary way and radiating great authority.

Opusklassiek.nl 2021

About the first cd of the trilogy with newly discovered pieces by John Dowland:

‘This quietly beautiful recording introduces a fascinating proposition to the listener – and to the “lute world” in general.

Magazine of the American Lute Society 2019

CD Henry Purcell Symphony while the swans come forward:

A new sound…all the credits here are for Fentross and his wonderful ensemble.

Stretto 2018

…Interesting to notice that Fentross may have learned a lot from Ton Koopman, but in the meanwhile he searched for his own sound and found it. In particular the string orchestra is fascinating us with breathtaking pianissimi.

Opusklassiek.nl 2018

Concert conducted in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with soprano Simone Kermes

The public in the Haydnsaal were delighted by the Orchestra La Sfera Armoniosa and their conductor Mike Fentross…It seemed that the two, Simone Kermes and Mike Fentross, understand each other blindly.

Pannonientivi Magazin 2012

Concert with the Netherlands Chamber Choir in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam

Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Dutch Chamber Choir was a resounding success.

NRC 2010

Opera production La Rosinda from Cavalli in Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam also performed at Bayreuther Barock.

Fentross’ musical direction is fleet yet detailed, expressive and witty, and his musicians respond with playing of color and flexibility.

MusicalAmerica.com 2009

Opera production l’Ipermestra from Cavalli in Early Music Festival Utrecht

Mike Fentross presented his richly coloured version with dedication and conviction. The still beauty of this Cavalli came to life sometimes mercifully beautiful.

Trouw 2006

Mike Fentros, conductor and lutenist, is one of the most interesting components of a new generation of Dutch musicians who focus on Baroque music and authentic playing styles.

NRC 2006

Buxthehude Membra Jesu Nostri, Opening concert of the Musica Antiqua Festival in Bruges.

Besides a technically perfect performance of his orchestra, his lecture of ‘Membra Jesu Nostri” is tempting for its intensity and its theatricality: Fentross increases the contrasts, uses rubati rarely heard in this repertoire and builds powerful nuances which brings to the music a supplementary dimension of sound.

La Libre Belgique 2004 – Musica Antiqua Festival (Bruges) – Buxtehude Mebra Jesu Nostri


Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire/Monteverdi Combattimento

There was great enthusiasm for Mike Fentross as conductor of a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Mike Fentross gave a performance of Pierrot Lunaire that ‘appeared to come from another planet’.

Volkskrant 2004

La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano, New Opera Academie The Hague/Amsterdam. Conducting debute.

The vocal ensembles were stunningly beautiful and were performed under the direction of Mike Fentross with a generous and rich expressivity.

Haagse Courant 1999

A press kit will be soon available