Femke IJlstra


Femke is one of the most success-full saxophonists of her generation.

The public, jury and press are impressed by her versatility and expressiveness.

The saxophone brought Femke around the globe, performing in the USA, Canada, South America, Asia and all of Europe.

Ever since Femke finished her masters degree ‘cum laude’ with Arno Bornkamp in Amsterdam, she plays on a regular basis in world’s leading orchestras like the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich.

Femke IJlstra is one of the youngest female professors in Europe, holding this position from when she was 29 years old. She is an educator at the Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen and Codarts, University of the Arts, Rotterdam.

Femke profiles herself more and more as a soloïst. She plays recitals all over the world and made appearances as a soloïst with L’opera Toulon under the baton of Jurjen Hempel and The North Netherlands Orchestra under the baton of Dirk Brosse and Frans-Aert Burghgraef. She is a regular guest in Dutch radio- and tv-show. Dutch composers have written music for Femke , such as Karmit Fadael, Jacob TV, Bernard van Beurden, Richard Rijnvos and Douwe Eisenga.

Femke loves chamber music: she is founder of Syrène Saxophone Quartet, and played soprano-sax in the renowned Aurelia Saxophone Quartet. In 2018 Femke started Jeux d’anches with (bass-) clarinetist Fie Schouten and accordeonist Marko Kassel. They explore new music for this unusual setting.

In her first album Femke worked together with artists that lead to a book called Stofsûgersjongers. The CD – where Femke plays music by M.Turnage and other ‘living composers’- got great reviews by the press and audience.

Two other albums have been made with her quartet Syrène. In march 2022 Femke’s latest album was released (Colores del Sur with pianist Celia García-García) which had great reviews and won a second place in Textura’s best instrumental albums 2022.

Femke IJlstra is curious about theater and other disciplines in art, which resulted in many music- theater performances and tours across the Netherlands. She worked together with actors, poets and dancers.

Femke is artistic director of the Emmy Verhey Festival in Zaltbommel, The Netherlands.