Netherlands Carillon School  

AMERSFOORT - The Netherlands Carillon School, established in 1953, has been accommodated since 1978 in an historic building in the old city centre, close to the tower of Our Lady. In the course of 2005 the continued existence of the school in Amersfoort was at risk for a short time, as there were plans to move the school to Utrecht. However, the location of the school was soon beyond discussion the moment it became clear that it would never be possible for Utrecht to make the same unique facilities available as offered by the city of Amersfoort: two carillons in the tower of Our Lady for recitals and the carillon of the Belgenmoment for studying and teaching. Nevertheless, in 2005 major changes took place in the staffing of the school.

On December 1, 2005, Jacques Maassen, who succeeded in 1984 Leen 't Hart as director of the Netherlands Carillon School, and Bernard Winsemius were the last two teachers of the school to retire. In the fall of 2005 the management of the Faculty of Music of the Utrecht School of the Arts offered many teachers, including Maassen and Winsemius, the opportunity of an early retirement. About eight months earlier the teachers Arie Abbenes and Ernst Bonis had already accepted the same offer of early retirement. The retirement of Maassen and Winsemius marks the end of an era that began in 1984. Since that year a lot has happened. One important event was the merger of the hitherto independent carillon school into the Utrecht School of the Arts. Also a new curriculum, a new series of music editions, European-validated curricula for professional education, as well as study opportunities for amateurs on a contract basis were established. In these years also the Hemony-carillon of the tower of Our Lady in Amersfoort was restored, and a second carillon, tuned in equal temperament, was installed in the tower. With a new peal of seven bells the total number of bells in the tower became exactly 100.

Almost immediately after the retirement of Maassen and Winsemius two new teachers were appointed by the Faculty of Music: Frans Haagen and Henk Verhoef. Both are alumni of the Netherlands Carillon School. Together with guest teachers they will manage the curricula of the school, implement the facilities provided by the city of Amersfoort and preside over the self-supporting foundation Beiaard Centrum Nederland. Frans Haagen has taken over a number of specific tasks as Head of the School.

Henk Verhoef studied carillon with Bernard Winsemius. He now plays the carillon of Monnickendam, the oldest in the world, and is not only heard frequently in The Netherlands, but was also as a guest recitalist in Austria, Portugal, Japan and the USA. In addition to his appointment as carillon teacher he continues to teach organ at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Henk Verhoef is also active as organist and conductor, is leader of 'Camerata Oude Kerk' in Amsterdam, and an advisor on the subject of building and restoration of carillons.

Frans Haagen is carillonneur of Kampen, Almelo and Rijssen. He studied carillon with Bernard Winsemius and Arie Abbenes. Moreover he received conservatory education in organ (for which he graduated summa cum laude), church music and choir conducting in Zwolle, and music pedagogy in Hilversum. At the conservatory in Enschede he studied piano. Haagen has been awarded several prizes in carillon and organ competitions and is currently chairman of the Music Committee of the Netherlands Carillon Society. Frans Haagen regularly plays in The Netherlands and has been a featured recitalist in carillon venues in Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Spain, Norway and the USA. Next to his interest in the way old music is played, he also frequently performes romantic and contemporary music. Many composers have written new works for him, both for carillon solo and for carillon with electronics.

Plans for the school in the near future include the renewal of the curriculum, the participation in more carillon projects, extra lessons in improvisation, and inviting guest teachers with specific expertise. Haagen and Verhoef also want to try to increase the possibilities for students to obtain more practical experience by playing carillons elsewhere in The Netherlands. Intensifying the cooperation with other schools is another objective.