Get inspired by visual arts

Research Retreats at the Cello Academy 

 Draw inspiration from visual art and collaborate as cellists and composers towards a public performance
with contemporary sounds


A Research Retreat is a collaboration between the CelloWercken Foundation and Dat Bolwerck – centre of arts – both situated in Zutphen. The current exhibition at Dat Bolwerck determines the theme of the retreat.


Composers explore the background of the subject of the exposition, together with the artist. Subsequently, they incorporate their inspiration into contemporary compositions, which they share with the participating cellists.

Cellists also bring their own repertoire for the masterclasses in the morning. In the evenings we will explore and practice the new compositons.

Throughout the retreat, the work and performance are refined, and finally, all elements come together in a public performance!

PROGRAM ’23/’24

4-days course

Research Retreat for composers and cellists

This course you will be accompanied by Xiaoyong Chen (compositon),  Joachim Eijlander (cello),  Alfian Emir Adytia (cello, composition and sound artist) and Jeroen den Herder (cello). who will all be present in Zutphen.

This course composers and cellist work together. Cellists also bring their own repertoire for the masterclasses in the morning. In the evenings we will explore and practice the new compositons.

This Research Retreat we focus on the exhibition of Ruthi Helbitz Cohen at Dat Bolwerck. The key to her work is the female body. 

Including 2 performances for an audience in Dat Bolwerck

3 – 6 April ’24

Wednesday – Saturday

Final registration cellists: 20 March ’24
Registration of composers is closed



Composition students are each required to create one or more compositions (or sketches) in advance, drawing inspiration from the current exhibition at Dat Bolwerck. Each composition should last for 7 minutes and can be written for 1 to 5 cellos, with or without piano. There will be 2 performances, one of them for a young audience of kids. Take this into account in the composition(s). These pieces can and will be tested, refined, and completed during the retreat.

Early March: first online meeting with the artist about the exhibition theme and an open discussion about the direction, including further development of the project.

March: first composition sketches are reviewed with the teachers for playability. The compositions (whether or not in rough form) will be shared with the cellists. They will be practicing under the teachers’ guidance.

We will provide a schedule and make sure we are connected during the retreat. You can also join the presentations online.

– 6 composers
– 6 cellists
Level: Master, Post Master and young professionals. Are you a high-level bachelor student? Sometimes we make exceptions, so please contact us if you are interested.

Full attendance on all rehearsals and the concerts is mandatory.


  • Cellists: EUR 500,- (including VAT) – covering all classes, accommodation, and meals, excluding travel costs
  • Composers joining at Dat Bolwerck: EUR 150,- (including VAT) – covering all classes, accommodation, and meals,excluding travel costs
  • Composers joining online: free

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if the contribution poses a financial challenge for you. In some cases, we can offer scholarships.

We arrange accommodations with families close to Dat Bolwerck.
All meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will be provided at Dat Bolwerck.



Xiaoyong Chen - composer

Professor at the Xinghai Conservatory 
Chens oevre is a subtle combination of Eastern linguistic and philosophical traditions with European musical innovation. A part of his career he spent in Germany as, amongst various projects, professor of composition at the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik und Theater. He also accepted various professorships in China (Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Xi’an Conservatory of Music). He also has been composer in residence (2009) and artistic and scientific advisor of the Danube University Centre for Contemporary Music. His works are exclusively published by the Internationale Musikverlage Sikorski/Boosey & Hawkes (Berlin).

Joachim Eijlander - cellist

Professor at the conservatories of Rotterdam and Namur
Joachim connects his music with dancers, visual artists, and scientists in inspiring collaborative performances to inspire a wider audience. As a soloist, Joachim has performed with ensembles such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, Chernihiv Philharmonic Orchestra, Romanian State Philharmonic TirguMures, Csikszereda Chamber Orchestra, and various festival orchestras.

Jeroen den Herder - cellist

Professor at the conservatories of Utrecht and Rotterdam – artistic director of CelloWercken
Den Herder has been a dedicated teacher ever since he took a professorship at the age of 22 at the Utrecht Conservatory. His lessons are based on a healthy development between mind and body, and a cello technique inspired by his teacher Christopher Bunting who was a former student of Pablo Casals. His approach is based on natural principles like gravity, character and playfulness. ‘Everything is music, don’t play to avoid mistakes.’  Elements as delegation of body functions and breathing are some key topics that will help you to achieve perfection in a healthy way. His main focus is on how and what people practise. He believes that being aware of one’s imagination, sensitive listening and following intuition, are elements that have proved to be the best teachers for life.

Alfian Emir Adytia - cellist, composer and sound artist

Alfian Emir Adytia is an Indonesian cellist, composer, and performer based in the Netherlands. He completed his Master’s degree in classical cello music at The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, where he achieved an outstanding 9.5/10 grade with distinction in originality. Following his studies, Emir delved into the captivating world of live electronics, expanding his sonic interests. Since 2017, he has released six independent albums, showcasing his musical evolution and genre explorations. Deeply rooted in Indonesian folk music and European classical musical training, a fusion that adds a unique dimension to his compositions, Emir’s works have been performed on major stages. Furthermore he was honored with a special mention prize in the Calefax Composers Competition in 2022 and received an honorary mention in the Bartók World Competition for Composition. His music has been widely played from a humble community-based young cellists circle in Yogyakarta, to a film screening in FIVARS festival in Los Angeles and Montreal. 

PROGRAM OF THE RETREAT – we will inform you in advance about the details 

Wednesday 3/4
10:00 – 11:00: welcome
Morning: masterclasses cello and composition
Afternoon: rehearsals
Evening: inspiration

Thursday 4/4 and Friday 5/4
Morning: masterclasses cello and composition
Afternoon: rehearsals
Friday afternoon: kids-performance
Evening: inspiration

Saturday 6/4
Morning: prepare evening performance
Afternoon: finetunig and rehearsal on performance
Evening: performance


The Sky Fell on Her – Ruthi Helbitz Cohen

Painter and Installation artist (Tel Aviv 1969). Lives and works in Israel and abroad. The female body is key to her work. It beholds a world rich in contradictions, strong and subtle emotions, and intricate thoughts seen through a distorting mirror. Beyond the horror, disgust and pain lies a world of delicate beauty.

Lecturer at Oranim College (multidisciplinary program for teaching humanities and the arts), teaches painting in a program for art studies and lecturer at Beit Berl Art College.



The Cello Academy is situated in Dat Bolwerck, Zaadmarkt 12. It is a mixture of charming medieval times and modern art, right in the heart of the old town, just a 10-minute walk from the train station.

Have you ever been to Zutphen? If we do say ourselves: it is a delightful little town. With a charming market with cozy cafes and situated along the IJssel river – you can always find a peaceful spot to enjoy the riverbanks.


Any questions? Please contact us.