Charles Belfor, composer & cellist - Photo by Ingrid Zuijderduijn Name: Charles E.J. Belfor
Date of Birth: December 3, 1986
Place of Birth: Katwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands
Current Location: Groningen, The Netherlands

Musical experience

Charles Belfor has experience working with (symphony) orchestras, ensembles, bands, and concert choirs as both a cellist and a composer. He mostly composes or arranges music for a variety of ensembles and orchestras. His works vary from orchestral works, soundtracks for (short) films, theatre productions and computer games to the electronic music he composed and produced himself. He also integrates improvisation into the various acts he is or has been involved with. Over the years, Charles has also accumulated quite a lot of conducting experience, in order to give his own pieces the necessary musical colours. Having performed live at venues and/or festivals such as the Thalia Theatre in Paramaribo, the Oosterpoort in Groningen, International Festival of European Youth Orchestras in Florence, De Vereeniging in Nijmegen, Budai Vigadó in Budapest, Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival in Groningen, Poppodium Metropool in Hengelo, Parkpop in The Hague, WinterWelVaart in Groningen, TEDxFryslân in Drachten, Nacht van Kunst & Wetenschap in Groningen, Mysteryland in Haarlemmermeer, Being Gathering at the Boomland/Idanha-a-Nova lake in Portugal, Lucid in Berlin & many more, Charles Belfor has also accumulated a lot of stage performance experience.

Compositions & musical collaborations

Charles has worked with the following bands/ensembles/acts/orchestras/artists:
  • G.S.M.G. Bragi, symphony orchestra (2005-2007)
  • Musica Silvestra Orchestra, symphony orchestra (2008-2010)
  • Septaeder, an experimental metal band (2008-2010)
  • Collegium Musicum Carolinum, symphony orchestra (2009)
  • Mary Jane, a singer-songwriter duo (2010)
  • WSKOV, symphony orchestra (2010)
  • Dusk, rock band (2011)
  • De Harmonie, symphony orchestra (2011)
  • Marjoram, a semi-acoustic, progressive rock band [co-founder] (2012-2017)
  • Rod and The Spirit(s), Rod Niangandoumou's band (2012-2013)
  • Spring!!! Jazz (XXL), jazz ensemble (2012-2013)
  • Mendel Bouman, composer & musician (2013)
  • Adedeji Adetayo, composer, guitarist & singer (2013)
  • Marlene Bakker, singer-songwriter (2013-2014)
  • Armand Wijskamp, singer-songwriter (2013-2016)
  • Jennifer Ann Fritts, guitarist, composer & singer (2014-2015, 2017-2018)
  • Morris Weijers, caisa player and percussionist (2014-2018)
  • Kerwin Pauptit, singer-songwriter (2014-2017)
  • Fries Symfonie Orkest, symphony orchestra (2014, 2016)
  • CISSY, singer & spoken word artist (2015-2016)
  • The Space Invaders Ensemble, interactive game music orchestra, Nacht van Kunst & Wetenschap (2015)
  • Circle of Shells, world music ensemble [co-founder] (2015-2017)
  • STEMS, an art rock band (2016)
  • Mijke Eryng, singer-songwriter (2016-2017)
  • Hartkamerorkest, interactive game music orchestra, Nacht van Kunst & Wetenschap (2016)
  • The Charles Belfor Ensemble, string ensemble [founder] (2016-2017)
  • Jeugd Orkest Groningen, youth string orchestra (2016-2017)
  • David Lurey, yoga troubadour (2017)
  • Pelle Kuipers, composer & musician (2017-present)
  • Kayleigh Beard, composer, musician & singer (2017)
  • Fons Jörgen, singer-songwriter (2017)
  • Hans Hannemann, singer-songwriter (2017).
  • Bach333, 333 string players, Podium Witteman (2018).
  • Joost Dijkema, guitarist, singer (2019).

  • Charles' compositions range from instrumental/orchestral pieces, such as "Sense of Duty" for symphony orchestra (2016), Overture for Strings (2016) for string orchestra, chamber pieces such as "Passage of Time" for piano trio (2008) to his more experimental electronic music (2014 and onward). Charles has also composed music for theatre, e.g. for the ancient Greek tragedy "Antigone" (2004). Besides that, he has been involved in art projects, such as "Vertrek" (2006) with Dutch artists Aafke Weller & Josine Zuidema and the art film "Cycles" (2012) with Dutch artists Aline de Jonge & Anneleen Hulshof. Additionally, he has worked with the American photographer Eric Bates (2011-2014), in order to create a type of musical paintings to go along his photographical creations. From 2013 onwards, he also composed music for computer games made by independent game developers. Besides working on those projects, Charles Belfor also engages in other musical activities, such as open jam sessions. During those sessions, he has the opportunity to temporarily work with a variety of musicians, such as jazz musicians, string players, rock musicians, singer-songwriters and so on.

    Other endeavours

    In order to broaden his horizon, he has taken some interest in social action projects and in organising cultural festivals in Groningen. He served as an executive committee member and, later on, as a treasurer for a local neighbourhood council. He also was part of a comittee which dealt with social cohesion from 2008 until 2012. Besides that, he has been part of the organising committee of the Dutch Student Music Festival (2007), the organising committee for an exhibition of Ukranian Folk Art (2010), the executive committee for the International Cultural Folk Festival "Zorja" (2011) and for CircleSonic (2015). Since March 2013, he was also involved in organising jam sessions for the Groninger Songwriter Circle. As such, he eventually became the co-founder of the Groninger Songwriter Circle Foundation on May 1, 2014. From May 1, 2014 until January 1, 2016, he was the treasurer for that foundation. From time to time, he also served as host and/or supporting crew during the concert evenings of, and other events involving the Groninger Songwriter Circle. The other events include: CiderFest (2015), Diversity Day Groningen (2014, 2015), Keiweek Groningen (2015), Nacht van Kunst & Wetenschap (2015), Pagefestival (2015) & 'Uit de Kast' (2014, 2015).

    Origin and Education

    Charles Belfor, a Dutch composer of Afro-Surinamese* descent, was born and raised in a small city called 'Katwijk aan Zee'. He took interest in classical music at a very early age, as he often listened to classical music during his youth. He started playing the electronic organ at the age of 7; the electronic organ provided him the first opportunity to compose music. As his interest in classical music grew, he decided to pick up the violoncello at the age of 9. He has taken cello lessons at the Gemeentelijke Muziekschool Katwijk (School of Music of Katwijk) for about 10 years. His cello teacher was Mariette Gort; a formidable solo cellist. Since Q1 2010 until Q1 2013, Charles Belfor has taken classical organ lessons at the Stedelijke Muziekschool Groningen, with the guidance of organist Leonore Lub. Between Q1 2011 and Q3 2012, he has also taken viola lessons with the guidance of Rachael Yates.

    A younger Charles Belfor... Charles taught himself how to compose since he was about 7 years old. Sadly, his earliest compositions have not been preserved, as he stopped composing for quite a few years and he did not write all of them down. He finally resumed composing in 2001 and started to learn more about harmony, structure and orchestration. He personally believes that composers should keep on learning more and more, as they keep on composing.

    Some of Charles' work has been influenced by a few of his own favourite classical composers. Composers like Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Beethoven and Bruch. As he also took interest in game/movie soundtracks and their composers, some of his work has also been influenced by movie and/or game music composers. Composers like Basil Poledouris, Jerry Goldsmith, Terence Blanchard and Nobuo Uematsu. Regardless of those influences, Belfor continues to develop his own style and he continues to refine his composition skills.

    * = Surinamese; someone from Suriname. The Republic of Suriname is a country in northern South America.
    Updated: July 15, 2020