Lately, I have invested lots of effort in the quest for my personal identity as a conductor and who I want to be as human being. To me, that’s a never-ending voyage of discovery. In January 2019, I had the fortune to take part in a masterclass by Colin Metters with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. It was an experience never to be forgotten and it has provided me with new insights and inspiration, which I’m ready to share with the orchestras I work with.
I have always had a fascination and passion for conducting. When I was 18 years old, the first opportunity presented itself to conduct an orchestra. That made me eager for more. Since 1999, I have been working as a conductor and studied orchestral conducting with Kenneth Montgomery and Jurjen Hempel in Utrecht and wind band conducting in Rotterdam.
I am chief conductor with the Frisian Chamber Orchestra. In 2020, I made my farewell to Groot Excelsior in Amsterdam, where I have been able to develop my skills as a conductor and with whom I have worked with great pleasure. With this outstanding concert band, I have been able to perform many beautiful concerts in great venues both in and outside Amsterdam. One of the finest examples was Shakespeare in Concert, a concert held on the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. A performance that I am still very proud of.
Since autumn 2020, I have been focusing on setting up a new orchestra. Together with some passionate musicians, who have a clear vision on how to brighten the future prospects for classical music, we founded De Nije Symfony (The New Symphony). De Nije Symfony aims to stage big symphonic productions with eager amateurs and willing professionals. As a result, we presented the Saint-Saëns Festival in Leeuwarden in November 2021. During this festival, Filharmony Fryslân performed the Oratorio de Noël and the Organ Symphony. For November 2022, we have programmed the Mozart requiem and Shostakovich’s fifth symphony.
Apart from my work as a conductor, I have worked as a musical editor and coordinator of the recording studio with De Haske Publications (now Hal Leonard Europe). Since 2013 I am working for the Frisian Music Archive, where I do the acquisition of new composers and organization of concerts and recordings. In these capacities, I have developed many other talents that are valuable additions to my conductorship: organizing, coordinating and building a broad network of other professionals. In that way, I have developed to multi-disciplined artistic leader, not only contributing to a well sounding result, but also to exiting programs and a thorough vision on the musical future of the ensembles I work with.
I started making music at a very young age. As a 6-year-old, I started playing on the electronic organ in our living room – a new fashion in those days. I was not yet able to read music, but I was able to reproduce what I heard on the radio. To learn to read music, I was to take lessons on the recorder. But that didn’t appeal to me one bit, so I was sent away after half a year. A year later, I managed to bring up real motivation because then there was the prospect of playing euphonium in the local band. And even then, there already was this fascination with conducting: I remember standing in front of the mirror, conducting Beethoven’s fifth with a pencil.
At the age of 12, I switched from euphonium to the French horn and then things went fast. I was admitted to the preparatory class of the Utrecht conservatoire, where I graduated as a horn player. During my studies, I played in many orchestras and ensembles, among which the National Youth Orchestra, the Radio Chamber Orchestra and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
Playing in all these orchestras, I obviously got to work with many different conductors. Very fine ones, but also the ones that made me want to leave the rehearsal as soon as I could. When working with the great ones I used to think: ‘that’s a great job, I would like to be there too’. In other cases I thought: ‘I’ll have a go and see whether I can do better’.