Aafje Heynis, Philippe Herreweghe, Harry Van der Kamp and Ton Koopman
I was very lucky to have no one less than Aafje Heynis (1924-2015) as my singing-teacher at the Conservatory of Arnhem from 1980-1987. She herself was a pupil of Aaltje Noorderwier-Redingius, who was a pupil of Johannes Messchaert.
It was typical for Heynis to embed the teaching of a countertenor voice in this rich tradition.
Not only she taught me how to sing but at least as important she taught me what the attitude of a performer towards a work of art should be.
It was known that she envisaged an almost 'priestly' role for singers, the role of inter-mediator between the world of God / the Arts and the listener.
Bach and Mahler were here hero's.
Right after conservatory I was invited to sing in the Collegium Vocale Gent. And although I had had quite some Bach interpretation with Heynis it was Philippe Herreweghe who opened my eyes and ears for the 'rule' that first there is: the word. And only in the second place: the music.
The shear consequence of this conviction was a pure shock to me at first. But very soon I was a declared defender of this way of music making my self.
I sang in Collegium from 1991-1995
It was Harry van der Kamp who asked me, after my first Mattheus Passion as a soloist (1990) , whether I sang earlier music as well?
He asked me to join the Gesualdo Consort and with his characteristic eloquence he led me from 1993-2001 through the traps of modal and hexachord singing, ensemble singing and late 16th century and early 17th century poetry and polyphony.
In 1992 the Amsterdam Baroque Choir was founded by Ton Koopman and I was part of it from day one and am still today.
With Ton we've recorded the complete vocal works of Bach. I learned a lot of this enthusiastic and driven harpsichordist/organist/conductor/musicologist. He offered me some opportunities as a soloist and I remember still our fascinating 'discussions' on Bach, me as singer and he as an instrumentalist. Being both bibliophiles and passionate 'readers' we became friends soon, very glad to join our forces every now and then in a Parisian workshop or in his Festival Itinéraire Baroque in the Dordogne, in order to make people even more enthusiastic about Baroque Music.