Ensemble Houthandel BE is a woodwind quintet. In everything the musicians do, they strive for a total experience. Authenticity, professionalism, artistic experiment and meeting the audience are the key factors. In a contemporary and personal way Houthandel examines what a music ensemble can be or signify in the 21st century: not evident and certainly exciting.

Above mission asks for an explanation of a vision that enlightens why the Houthandelmission is what it is. As an ensemble Houthandel is an organization that is founded on three pillars: music, musicians and audience. Musically the ensemble bring contemporary and new classical music. They perform this music in an innovative and refreshing way as a total performance with a strong visual impact.



The 5 musicians of Houthandel think and do: they use their body and their memory, their heart and their head, their stomach and their mouth. In this sense it is a pity that this page can only give a verbal description. You should attend a Houthandel concert live in order to get an idea what they stand for. They are not like any other ‘classical’ concert:

• the musicians play by heart (interiorising the music) and they play with their whole body (exteriorising the music for the audience);

• scenography, choreography and costume are an essential part of the performance;

• the ensemble Houthandel looks for interaction with the audience and plays along with this.


In an intense work process the musicians experiment as a collective in a highly authentic way, starting from their expertise with a non-evident repertoire.

Houthandel is in this way not only a chamber music quintet, but a real work place or even a work house where one continually absorbs and plays.


This process has been characterised by a passionate research: a quest where every musician as an intermediary between music and audience is seeking for the best possible form and contents for the best possible production. Houthandel uses different means of expression to play for and with the audience. The result is a powerful meeting between music and audience, whether a performance/concert, a master class or a workshop is meant.


The work in Houthandel is almost never finished. The permanent cast of 5 engaged musicians guarantees both an organic, dynamic and an ever tighter becoming group, a dreamt of basis to go along experimenting, creating and presenting. Houthandel builds up a repertoire, retake and are constantly in motion.


Quite deliberately, Houthandel only intends 1 or 2 new productions per season, supplemented with possible retakes of earlier productions. The ensemble chooses thus for depth instead of consummation. This approach allows an intensive and thorough quest or work form. It enables the ensemble to ‘plane’, to ‘scrape’, to think and to act.


Because of their specific cast, Houthandel  needs contemporary composition assignments, both Flemish as international. These orders will always connect to the three pillars whereupon the Houthandel are based (music, musicians, audience).


Because interaction with the audience – much more than in ‘classical’ performances- is a fundamental pillar within the Houthandelproceedings, the quintet players want to bet upon audience involvement. Priority is given to a good (audiovisual) communication, where there should be room for all kinds of new and social media.


text: Bart Michiels

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