Passionate Player Spotlight: Ilonka Kolthof

Jun 22, 2021

In our new Passionate Player Spotlight series we highlight some of the unique and exciting personalities who make up #TeamBurkart.

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Ilonka Kolthof, a flute and piccolo free-lance musician from the Netherlands! Ilonka’s dazzling piccolo playing has earned her competition wins in the United States, France, and the Netherlands.

Her tireless devotion to the piccolo as a solo instrument has prompted her to form the Dutch Piccolo Project. Continue reading to learn more about Ilonka Kolthof!

What type of Burkart instrument do you own?

I own a Burkart Elite Deluxe piccolo with split E mechanism and G# facilitator.


Tell us a little more about you!

Hello! I am the founder of the Dutch Piccolo Project. Through this project, I aim to raise the status of the piccolo to the level of an autonomous solo instrument by commissioning composers to write new works and promoting the piccolo through new recordings and concerts.

I started this project during my Master of Music piccolo studies at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp in Belgium. So far, it has resulted in many successful collaborations with some of the most well-known composers in The Netherlands, including JacobTV and Mathilde Wantenaar. It has also prompted collaborations with internationally acclaimed musicians and drawn considerable attention from the media. In 2019, I recorded my debut album Halo, with six new, Dutch compositions for piccolo and piano together with pianist Ralph van Raat.

Next to that, I’m a cultural entrepreneur who loves to create, make plans and explore new paths!


What does flute or piccolo playing look like in your daily or weekly life?

As a freelance musician, I always strive to be in a good general shape on flute as well on piccolo, ready to rehearse or perform at any time. When I don’t feel like practicing or don’t have any concerts coming up in the near future, I like to search for inspiration in nature by taking a nice long walk, listening to music, or just meeting up with friends to cook and have nice conversations about life.


What are some of your favorite pieces to listen to or play?

Funny enough, I don’t listen to flute music very often. What I think is very inspiring is to listen to orchestral music, because there is so much to discover in terms of color, dynamics, and timing! My favorite pieces at this moment would be Rachmaninoff’s dazzling second piano concerto and Debussy’s dreamy ‘La Mer’. Furthermore, I like to put solo piano on my headphones during long walks, mostly repetitive minimal music, for example the not-so-well-known Hans Otte’s ‘Book of Sounds’. And here is a little confession: when I put my Spotify on ‘shuffle’, chances are that Coldplay, Stromae, or Bruno Mars will pass by too…


Why is making music an important part of your life?

Already from a young age, I was captured by classical music. When in bed, I would listen to Dutch violinist Janine Jansen and dream to be a musician one day too. Next to my flute lessons I played a lot of chamber music at my music school, rehearsed on a weekly basis in local wind bands and performed in all kinds of music competitions. For me, making music was like breathing- and it still is! Music is an important part of my life because it is a way of expressing my feelings and emotions. I cannot imagine a life without it!


As a musician, what are your goals for the future?

Personally, one of my main goals as a musician is to keep the musical fire in me going. Sometimes life as a musician can be quite challenging. The current Covid pandemic made me realize what a fragile profession this really can be. I hope to be lucky enough to enjoy and share my love for music for the rest of my life.


If people would like to learn more about you and your projects, where can they go?

Please visit my personal website, as well as the website for the Dutch Piccolo Project!

nominate a