Yang Yang Cai

Yang Yang Cai (1998) started playing the piano aged five with Noor Relijk, continuing her studies with the renowned professor Jan Wijn. She received her Bachelor’s degree with exceptional marks in May 2019 from the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Yang Yang has performed in numerous masterclasses by Boris Berman, Matti Raekallio, Mikhail Voskresensky, and many others. From November 2020, Yang Yang will continue her piano studies at the Imola Piano Academy with maestro Enrico Pace.

She was a two-time winner of the Steinway Piano Competition in 2008 and 2012, representing the Netherlands at the International Steinway Festival aged only nine in a performance at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg. Yang Yang received the first prize in the Junior Finals of the Young Pianist Foundation (YPF) Competition in 2013, following her performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 with the Yehudi Menuhin School Orchestra. She was given the Classic Young Masters Award in 2017. In 2019, Yang Yang won the Young Pianist Foundation Competition, where she excelled in her rendition of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Conservatory of Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra led by Jean-Bernard Pommier.
Yang Yang participated in The International Holland Music Sessions and Aspen Music Festival and School 2018 (US), and is in high demand among venues like the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and at major Dutch festivals like Grachtenfestival Amsterdam. She has appeared repeatedly on live Dutch TV.

Yang Yang formed the Amsterdam Piano Trio in 2017 with Shin Sihan (violin) and Alexander Warenberg (cello). In 2019 they performed in various major concert halls, including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

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As a little girl I walked with my mother in Naarden Vesting, on the way to the Turfpoortstraat, on the way to my grandmother. the buildings! The Spanish House, St Andrew’s Church! The former church building which was built by the Robert F.W. Bruinsma was converted into a concert hall. How did that happen?

In my youth I listened to the St Matthew Passion many times in the Grote Kerk in Naarden. My parents were both organizationally involved in these beautiful performances by the Netherlands Bach Society. At that time, the seeds were sown for my development in and love for music. After my childhood and schooling, my husband and I have done a lot of work abroad and have lived in France for 25 years. The music then came into the background a bit, but it never really left my head. My husband passed away in 2005.

During that period I started organizing piano concerts on our estate in France. It was a success! And it gave me the energy and the idea to take up that also in the Netherlands after I sold the estate. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, the Robert F.W. Bruinsma set up. The main objective of our foundation is to support young musicians, especially piano students, on their way to their future.

The Andreaskerk in the Turfpoortstraat in Naarden Vesting has been purchased with the aim of creating a home base for the activities of our foundation. After three years of renovation, we have transformed the former church into a small-scale concert hall. In the initial phase of the renovation I met the pianist Nino Gvetadze. She was introduced to me by Jan Wijn, a well-known piano pedagogue in the Netherlands. Nino and I had a few conversations and it soon became clear that we are on the same page regarding thoughts about music and youth. So Nino presented her plan to me. An idea to bring young top talent from the piano master’s program at the conservatories into contact with people who are important for their development on the way to their career. And this was the starting signal for the ‘Naarden International Piano Festival’. We are both very proud that it has come to this.

You have a dream but you have to dare to stick your neck out to make it come true. Persevere, don’t hesitate, go after your goal!
Music connects people!
We hope to connect students with master pianists!
Together with Marco Meijdam, our producer and a small team of employees, we are doing our best to put this festival on the map for the future.
We hope to offer you as an audience a few days of beautiful music!

Hankie Bruinsma Verbrugh
Co-founder of the Naarden International Piano Festival
Chairman of the Robert F.W. Bruinsma Foundation

Hankie Bruinsma Verbrugh
© Ronald Knapp

There comes a time for young musicians when they graduate and are about to start independent lives in search of their true identities. This moment has been a turning point for many of us, as we were about to make our own choices, without the guidance of our teachers. As a young independent musician you are the one to choose the repertoire for your future recitals, build a network around you, find the interesting opportunities and the way to keep on growing and developing. For some of the students the transition happens naturally, but many of them need more opportunities and possibilities to create their own network.

Even though we have incredible amount of music competitions around the world and some of them are truly creative and help young artists to develop and give them opportunities to play around the world, I still think, that music is not about competing and we should be able to recognise a talent without the list of many prizes in their biographies.

As a young girl, I had my heroes, pianists, that I admired, but never dared to go near them, as they were completely out of my reach. Time has passed and I personally met some of my heroes and learned so much from them, in a simple conversation and especially while listening to them very closely.

Some time ago I started thinking , what if we could actually create an event, a festival, where young talented pianists could actually meet their heroes, a festival, where there are no sides, but one unity, where young can learn from the experienced and perform on the same stage.

Thanks to Hankie Bruinsma Verbrugh this idea took shape and found its home in Naarden, in a beautiful little concert hall “Bij Andreas”, where it took its start in May 2019. In spring of 2022 we’ll be hosting our 3rd edition, which gives me hope, that, the Festival will create many interesting possibilities for young talented musicians and will establish itself as a yearly event celebrating classical music.

Hope to see you all in Naarden!

Nino Gvetadze
Pianist / Co Founder / and Artistic Director of the Naarden International Piano Festival.