Expression of Art Award

By The Set hotels for the Art of Musical Expression

The Conservatorium hotel has established a strong collaboration with the Conservatorium van Amsterdam; Amsterdam's University of the Arts, since the day of its opening in 2011. The award emphasises the heritage and history of the building, which has been the house of the former Sweelinck Conservatory of Music from 1983 to 2008. As well as giving the students of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam a podium to perform every weekend in the Lounge of the hotel, the 2017 award will give four bands the opportunity to perform within the hotel and compete for the scholarship offered by The Set hotels.


Stay tuned for Gijs Idema Trio's album

Winner of Expression of Art Award 2017, Gijs Idema Trio (with Cas Jiskoot on double bass and Tim Hennekes on drums) is in the midst of producing their debut album ‘Squares’, which will be released later in October. They were already working on the album before the Expression of Art Award, but winning this great prize enabled them to take the final steps in the process, like mixing and mastering.

Gijs Idema also has plans to travel to New York and start a two year Master program at the Juilliard School of Music or the Manhattan School of Music. At that time the Expression of Art Award funds will aid him in financing auditions and flight tickets. Until that time, Gijs will be focusing on writing and composing for several projects.

Edo Righini (Vice Director, Head of Jazz Department, Conservatorium van Amsterdam):
'Gijs is one of the brightest new stars on the Dutch guitar horizon. Rooted in the great Jazz tradition, he is astonishingly fluent and narratively elegant whenever he cuts loose on guitar.'


  • Mo van der Does Quartet / 28 January 2018
    This young group of jazz musicians was brought together by alto saxophonist Mo van der Does. They play original music that represents the modern jazz trend. Focus points are improvisation and interaction, leading to an adventurous and challenging collaboration. The musicians have known each other for a long time from the Amsterdam jazz scene, but their debut as a group was last August during the Grachtenfestival. Their performance was a big success and with both the audience and the performers being excited about the project, they decided to continue this musical journey.
  • Casares Brothers Trio / 25 February 2018
    Lluc and Joan Casares have been playing music together since they were kids. Despite the fact that their genetic bond is irreplaceable, they have found their third sibling in Kimon Karoutzos, a double bass player from Greece. Both of the Casares brothers moved to the US to proceed their studies and are looking forward to playing in the Netherlands again, where in 2017 they received the second prize at the Keep An Eye International Jazz Award. This band has been described as ‘joyful, energetic and really swinging.
  • Matthias van den Brande Group / 25 March 2018
    This new project of saxophonist and composer Matthias Van den Brande offers an exciting new view on what jazz could be in the 21st century. By adding a classical wind quintet to his existing jazz quartet, Matthias explores new pathways of colors and feelings that provide him the inspiration to write refreshing compositions that cross boundaries of both jazz and classical music, ending up in a new and original musical universe. This way, he strives to evoke a sense of both wonder and melancholy, providing the listener a story-telling journey through the unknown.
  • Tommaso Perazzo Trio / 29 April 2018
    Genoa, Athens, Naples: the musical meeting point between these cities begins in September 2015, when the three musicians start playing together during their studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

    The different influences and musical background of each component of the trio led to an original musical direction, creating a sound that goes from the old jazz tradition to more modern tendencies. This reflects in the repertoire that offers interpreted jazz standards as well as original compositions, developing a powerful swinging piano trio sound with a strong blues influence. 

Mark your calendar

We are happy to announce the following dates next year for the third edition of the Expression of Art Award. 

Sunday 28 January 2018
Sunday 25 February 2018
Sunday 25 March 2018
Sunday 29 April 2018
Sunday 27 May 2018 (Grand Finale)

Time: 11.00 – 12.30hrs



For the 2017 award, the jury consisted of:

  • Edoardo Righini; Associate Director at Conservatorium van Amsterdam and head of Online Learning and Continuing Education. He is also the author of the highly-praised book: Guitar Lessons. 
  • Maarten Hogenhuis; an Amsterdam-based saxophonist. He is a member of the exhilarating powerjazzgroup BRUUT!, The More Socially Relevant Jazz Music Ensemble, the two-drummer band Krupa & The Genes and leads his own quartet and trio. 
  • Maarten van der Grinten; guitarist and most well known for his duet with Jesse van Ruller and the Van der Grinten Herman Quartet. He studied at the Hilversum Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music. He is currently a professor and coordinator of the guitar department at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam.


  • Gijs Idema Trio- The Gijs Idema Trio, consisting out of Gijs Idema (guitar), Cas Jiskoot (contrabass) and Tim Hennekes (drums), is grounded in the jazz tradition but is also known for exploring the modern field. The trio is often praised for their unique sound which can be classified as dynamic and lyrical with a lot of room for interpretation.

    Little Olifant- At the heart of 'Little Olifant' lies a restless desire to create, curate and collaborate. The project is led by bassist Abhishek Mangla with an intention of using some of the socio-cultural aspects of Indian society as an inspiration for his music.

    Hähnlein/Müller/Lotz- The trio of Thomas Hähnlein (saxophone), Christian Müller (bass) and Clemens Lotz (drums) was founded shortly after the three German musicians met at the Amsterdam University of the Arts in September 2016. Already at their first relaxed get-to-know-jam, the three master students discovered that their playing styles matched easily. This was also confirmed by their conservatory who selected the trio to play as one of four bands at a special bands night. Motivated by the great joy they had playing together, they now meet regularly and dedicate their time not only to the traditions of jazz, but also developing a modern sound which is influenced by each musicians personal tastes and background.

    Sun-Mi Hong Group- During her time in Amsterdam, Sun-Mi didn't assimilate only musical craft, but also experienced a different culture with people from all over the world. There is a lot of sensitivity in her playing and a well-tempered swing feel which shows her personal identity within the music. Her trio presents new compositions that have a strong connection to her life. Sun-Mi’s music is free-spoken, honest and intense in a very organic way.

2017 Winner

On the 28th of May, our judges were proud to hand the Expression of Art Award and the winning prize of a €5000,- scholarship to the Gijs Idema Trio. The trio is often praised for their unique sound which can be classified as dynamic and lyrical with a lot of room for interpretation.


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The first concert on the 21st of February was by Mateusz Pulawski, guitarist and composer of the jazz band the Lunar Quartet. The second concert on the 10th of April was by the Gideon Tazelaar trio, who are inspired by music of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. The final concert and day of the award ceremony was held on the 12th of June with the final performer being Tom Ridderbeekx, trumpeter who made his debut at the North Sea Jazz festival in 2011. The award consisted of a €5000,- scholarship to be used by the winner to further their musical career. 

Expression of Art Award Judges

The professional jury which was appointed to make the final judgment included: 

  • Jasper Blom, a leading tenor and soprano saxophonist of the young Dutch jazzgeneration and one of the most versatile players in the Benelux. Jasper has performed with the likes of Lee Konitz, Chet Baker, Nat Adderley, Bob Brookmeyer, George Duke, Randy Crawford, David Liebman, Conrad Herwig and many other international reknowned artists.
  • Edoardo Righini, teacher at Conservatorium van Amsterdam and head of Online Learning and Continuing Education. He is also the author of the highly-praised book: Guitar Lessons. 
  • Juan Martinez, General Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra at the Royal Concerthall.

2016 Winner

On the 12th of June, our judges were proud to hand the Expression of Art Award and the winning prize of a €5000,- scholarship to the Gideon Tazelaar trio. The trio are known for taking a simple repertoire as a starting point to investigate the playfully melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements. The trio consists of:

Gideon Tazelaar (1997) - Started with saxophone lessons at the age of seven and at the age of eight he performed at the Royal Concert building in Amsterdam. When Gideon turned 11, he contributed to the North Sea Jazz Festival with his quartet and has played along side some big names such as Simon Rigter, Peter Beets, Martijn van Iterson and Joost Patocka. Gideon will graduate at the end of 2016 from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.

Ties Laarakker (1989) - Has been playing the double bass since the age of 14 and got accepted to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam when he was only 16 years old. In his spare time he studies Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam.

Wouter Kühne (1996) - Had his first drum lessons at the age of seven and when he was 16 he entered the North Sea Jazz Festival. He is currently in his second year of his Bachelor degree at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. 

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