Künstlersekretariat - Astrid Schoerke

Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble

What kind of music does someone like world-class violinist Isabelle van Keulen play at the end of the day? The Tango Nuevo  of Astor Piazzolla. As a child she fell in love with this artistic, tango form and its authentic character invented by the great Argentinean composer when, back in the seventies, long before Piazzolla caught on in Europe, her mother gave her a record of his tangos that became an instant favourite in her playroom. First, however, she dedicated herself to the classical music of the occident with its extensive technique, exceeding precision, sound dynamics as well as its rules and conventions. She went on to study, rose to international acclaim and today, is one of the most sought-after soloists for the violin and viola. All the while, however, her passion remained a secret and when the opportunity arose, she seized it. In 2011, whilst developing a concert program along with her partners Ulrike Payer (piano), Christian Gerber (bandoneon) and her husband Rüdiger Ludwig (double-bass), she proposed that the music of Piazzolla be used. This proposal went on to become a program, the program a concert and finally the concert a recording with Challenge Records. In the meantime their 3rd CD is about to be released in spring 2018.

What makes this music so appealing to Isabelle van Keulen? Its unadorned, exceedingly honest character “unpackaged, devoid of ribbons; its pure, unabridged emotions” explains the violinist. When played, performers are able to break free of the confines, the regime of classical music and “discover entirely unique, surpassingly pure timbre and less restrained rhythms.”

Following his childhood in Buenos Aires and New York where the young, musically inclined Astor got to know and love classic tango argentino, jazz as well as the music of Bach, his later encounter with Arthur Rubinstein inspired him to begin composing. He studied and experimented, still it took many years, a prolonged trip to visit Nadja Boulanger in Paris not to mention the courage to remain true to the musical heritage of his native South America until Astor Piazzolla arrived at his own unmistakable style of the tango nuevo in the fifties. For a very long time, tango had a poor reputation in Argentina, particularly among the upper class. During Piazzolla’s youth, the career tango musician was frowned up. Nonetheless, his music and its affinity for traditional tango harmonies, the underlying melancholic mood combined with techniques from jazz, but also the 20th century classical music of Stravinsky and Bartok gave rise to a new art form. Formally, Piazzolla often used the baroque suite or toccata and fugue of Bach to transform music originally conceived for dancing into music for listening.


Christian Gerber dedicated himself early on to Argentinean tango and tango nuevo studying classical bandoneon at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin. He regularly performs around Europe having shared the stage with numerous high-profile tango musicians such as Alberto Podestá, Juan José Mosalini, Alfredo Marcucci,

Raul Garello, Luis Stazo, among others. Numerous projects and concerts featuring contemporary music, film and theatre music (e.g. at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin Schaubühne, Hamburg Schauspielhaus) further complement his work. Since 2003, he has  also performed with the group “Tangocrash” (“2008 Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”) and is a member of the “Stazo Mayor” sextet formed by Grammy award-winner Luis Stazo.

Ulrike Payer first became familiar with Piazzolla’s music through a collaboration with great gandoneonist Alfredo Marcucci in 1998 and has been fascinated ever since. In addition to her career as a soloist and chamber musician, she has also explored this genre in depth. This led her to take the stage alongside numerous prominent Argentinean musicians such as Cholo Montironi, Norberto Bondino, Carlos Buono, Quique Sinesi and the Sexteto Mayor.

A native of Mainz, Rüdiger Ludwig studied double-bass under Prof. Günter Klaus at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main. Following engagements at the Staatstheater in Mainz and with the Sinfonieorchester des Saarländischen Rundfunks, he became co-principle double-bass of the NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover. He is a popular guest at the Hamburgisches Staatsoper, WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne, HR-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.

Where other classically trained musicians have struggled in their interpretations of Piazzolla’s works, the Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble succeeds: “not only [is] their playing perfectly attuned, the musicians also succeed – indeed, all the more importantly – in captivating the uniquely austere character of the music.” writes www.klassik.com of the ensemble’s CD, which was released in 2013.

Season 2017/2018
Changes and abridgement must be coordinated with Künstlersekretariat Schoerke GmbH.




Isabelle van Keulen Tango Ensemble on tour

30 June 2018

This summer, Isabelle van Keulen is touring with her ensemble through the Netherlands, Norway and Germany and thrilling her audiences with the fiery, highly emotional music of Astor […] more ...

Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble releases new Tango CD

6 April 2018

Angeles y Diabolo, angels and demons – motifs that frequently appear in the tangos of Piazzolla. On their third CD Angeles y Diabolo, to be released on April […] more ...

Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble & Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss – October 2019

27 March 2018

After many years of exploring Tango Nuevo and Astor Piazzolla, Isabelle van Keulen, in addition to her work as a soloist and chamber musician on the international concert […] more ...

Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble – Tango Nuevo

20 October 2017

Isabelle van Keulen has a reputation as a remarkably versatile artist. As well as a violinist and violist well-established, she is known for her dedication to contemporary works […] more ...

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Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble – Trailer Tango!

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