Tango Aliado is a unique Amsterdam-based quartet with a passion for Argentinian tango music: Françoise van Varsseveld (violin), Mariken Zandvliet (piano), Lucas Stam (cello) and Gert Wantenaar (bandoneon). The members of the quartet, all professional musicians, undertook a journey of discovery to works by the renowned Astor Piazzolla and other past masters of the tango, including Carlos Gardel, Aníbal Troilo and Horacio Salgán. Tango Aliado’s repertoire includes many self-made arrangements of these breathtaking compositions. The quartet’s musicians come from a variety of musical backgrounds, from classical to light music and world music. Their paths crossed at conservatory and in the professional orchestral circuit, and the ‘click’ they discovered encouraged them to continue as a group. Since its inception in 2008, Tango Aliado performs regularly and with pleasure at diverse venues in the Netherlands such as De Rode Hoed, the Westergasfabriek, Azijnfabriek, Noorderparkkamer, Keukenhof Castle, Twickel Castle, Theater Twee Hondjes and Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, where their music and performances are consistently met with overwhelming enthusiasm.
Françoise van Varsseveld
Françoise earned her Master of Music diploma at the Utrecht Conservatory with Eeva Koskinen. She also followed masterclasses and courses with A. Kerr, R. Honeck, I. Grubert, J. Hellstone, A.L. Breuniger and others. She was leader of the Rotterdam Young Philharmonic and the Utrecht String Orchestra, as well as concertmaster of VU Chamber Orchestra. Presently she freelances with various professional orchestras (including the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Ballet Orchestra and the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra), light-music ensembles (Herbert Grönemeyer, Gino Vanelli) and the Metropole Orchestra, but also tango & music theater (Tango Aliado and Stella Den Haag). With these ensembles she has toured throughout Europe and China. Her love for tango music was kindled in her last year of music conservatory, where she made a study of Argentine tango music and performed two works by Astor Piazzolla on her master’s recital, together with Gert Wantenaar and Mariken Zandvliet.
Gert Wantenaar is primarily known as an accordionist. He took up the instrument at the age of eight, and when he was twelve was given an LP of the famed Dutch accordionist Johnny Meyer. It inspired him to improvise on the accordion, and he formed his own quartet which performed at jazz festivals throughout the Netherlands. His broad range of musical interests has brought Gert into contact with diverse musical styles, as a keyboard and organ player as well as accordionist. At conservatory he studied classical accordion with Henny Vels and light-music piano with Henk Elkerbout. At age 18 Gert was invited to join the tango orchestra "El Choclo", at that time made up of members of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He rediscovered the Argentine tango, now playing that music in the ensemble on the accordion. Later, the rejuvenated "Malando Orchestra" invited him to play first accordion, but here he also had the opportunity to play the bandoneon. This small instrument, with its beautiful, characteristic sound, is the soul of the Argentine tango. In 2007 Gert toured Japan and China with the Malando Orchestra for the first time as solo bandoneonist.
Mariken Zandvliet was born in Troyes (France) and took her first piano lessons at the age of seven. At fourteen she made her solo debut with the Gewestelijk Orkest of South Holland. At the Utrecht Conservatory she studied piano with Herman Uhlhorn, earning the Performer’s diploma with distinction. She furthered her studies in chamber music and song accompaniment with Norman Shetler at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In addition to solo appearances, Mariken is active in a variety of chamber and ensemble formations, with whom she toured the United States, Scandinavia, France, England, Germany and Morocco. She is a member of La Rondine (sextet with winds), Trio Lataster and Tango Aliado. Mariken and the bassoonist Peter Gaasterland have given concerts and masterclasses in Liechtenstein, and she visited China with the soprano Margo Rens. With violinist Tjeerd Top she performed in the major concert halls in the Netherlands as well as in Indonesia, Argentina, India, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Brazil. She is a faculty member of the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam as teacher and repetiteur.
Lucas has played the cello since the age of six. After studying classical cello at the Rotterdam Conservatory he made several tours with german rockstar Herbert Grönemeyer, released a world music album with his own compositions together with vocalist Wieke Garcia and formed part of ensemble Tango Aliado. He worked with electronic music composer Pieter Nooten, with whom he performed at the World Press Award ceremony 2014 at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Together with Klaas Berings from Freshbeat Studios he regularly composes music (commercials and documentaries) and recorded with pianists Daan Herweg en Mike del Ferro. He also performs with Indian vocalist Sandhya Sanjana (Halfway to India) and pianist Asli Boz.
From 2016 onwards he started studying North Indian classical music on his cello. In Mumbai, India he studied for several months under Dhruba Ghosh (sarangi) and took tabla lessons from Vaibhav Kadam (tabla). In Netherlands he took lessons from Lenneke van Stalen (violin) and Heiko Dijker (tabla). Currently he is studying dhrupad, one of the oldest forms of Indian classical music, under vocalist Marianne Svasek and followed workshops of vocalist Nirmalya Dey.