Syrène Saxophone Quartet

Four professional female saxophonists who have named themselves after the
Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey: sea goddesses that seduced sailors with their divine voices. Syrène strives to make the sounds of the classical saxophone known to a diverse audience. It is their energy, their musical qualities and their subtle communication, that makes them so beloved with their listeners.

The Syrènes have studied at the Conservatories of Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. They were the first wind ensemble to be welcomed at the prestigious Dutch String Quartet Academy. The Syrène Saxophone Quartet is a common guest on all the major Dutch stages and has performed on many international stages.

Syrène’s motto is ‘Fresh and sweet, but with a bite’: Talented, spicy but with a delicate female touch. The individual talents are at their finest when combined as the Syrenes Quartet.

Femke IJlstra

(soprano saxophone)
Femke IJlstra (1982) studied saxophone with Arno Bornkamp on The Amsterdam Conservatory. In 2009 she finished her master degree with distinction.

Femke plays on a regularly basis with leading orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She also plays in Anima Eterna, a Belgian orchestra that is specialized in period instrument performance. In 2016 she won the audition to play saxophone in Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, Switzerland.

As a soloist, Femke plays with many different orchestras. She made many radio recordings and appeared on Dutch television. She is also a regular guest in various music festivals.

Next to her activities as a soloist, Femke loves chamber music: besides playing in Syrène Saxophone Quartet she plays soprano saxophone in the renowned Aurelia Saxophone Quartet and has a duo with percussion, MUSU. They performed in Amsterdam, The Hague as well in St. Petersburg, Paris and Berlin. In September 2012 she record her first CD together with poems and artwork in a book called Stofsugersjongers. On this CD she plays music from M. A. Turnage, and new pieces written for her.

Femke is saxophone professor at the Hanze University of applied Science of Groningen.

Femke Steketee

(alto saxophone)
Femke Steketee (1989) has graduated cum laude at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (Bachelor) as a student of Frank Timpe and Leo van Oostrom, and the Conservatory of Amsterdam (Master) as a student of Arno Bornkamp. “With her warm-blooded sound and technical capacities she reveals all shades and colors of the classical saxophone and leaves one thinking about the position of the saxophone in classical music.”

Femke plays regularly with several symphony orchestras in the Netherlands, such as The Hague Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Radio Philharmonic and the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. Next to being a saxophonist, Femke is a writer and columnist. After founding her blog “Sax and the Pretty” in 2015 which introduces young adults to classical music,
she has been invited to write about her experiences in the classical music scene for multiple (online) platforms. Sax and the Pretty will be fully renewed and internationally introduced in 2019.

In fall 2019 Femke releases her solo debut album “La Fille et le Saxophone” together with Dutch pianist Tobias Borsboom, which tells the story of a young woman dealing with all aspects of life such as loss, love, uncertainties and lust for life through her favorite (and new!) pieces for classical saxophone and pop-art illustrations.

Annelies Vrieswijk

(tenor saxophone)
“Annelies Vrieswijk (1983) is an extremely lyrical saxophone player with brilliant technique and a melodious sound.”
Annelies studied the saxophone at the Prince Claus Conservatory with Peter Stam, at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with Christer Johnsson and at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Arno Bornkamp. Both her Bachelor and Master degrees were finished with the highest honours.

Besides playing in the Syrène Saxophone Quartet, Annelies is performing in the Rodion Trio, an unique ensemble with clarinet, saxophone and piano. Furthermore she freelancing with Dutch orchestras en ensembles, such as the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the The Hague Philharmonic, the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and Asko|Schönberg.

In 2017 Annelies started her studies historical bassoon with Benny Aghassi and recently had her first performances with the Helios Ensemble.

Aukelien Kleinpenning

(baritone saxophone)
Aukelien Kleinpenning (1987) plays a broad classical repertoire on the saxophone and often performs on stage. She enjoys collaborating with performers from a wide-range of disciplines, such as modern dance, poetry and theater.

For the Bachelor’s (with honours) and Master’s degree of Music, Aukelien studied under Johan van der Linden at the Utrecht Conservatory. She attended classes given by Willem van Merwijk to specialize in the baritone saxophone. At the Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität, she studied modern music under Lars MleKusch. In addition she has also undertaken private lessons from Arno Bornkamp.

Aukelien has been invited by many ensembles and orchestras to substitute and participate in various projects, including the Marinierskapel, Doelen Ensemble, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Together with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, she participated in the New Year Concert in Amsterdam and the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Her forte in addition to the above is to perform chamber music in various ensembles, having a permanent role in both the Syrene Saxophone Quartet and the TenToon Ensemble.