Reluctantly, the first steps……


Geref. Meidoornkerk ( 1966 )

When I was 19 years old I gave my first public performance on March 4, 1966, on the organ in the Meidoornkerk in Rotterdam-Schiebroek. The performance was organised by the Reformed Youth club ‘Batelka’ on account of the famine in India. The financial proceeds of “Dinner for India” were intended to ease the famine. It was a performance in collaboration with the Hillegersbergs Men’s choir conducted by Jan Kriek, my teacher in choir direction and with the participation of several musical members of de Youth club. My role consisted in accompanying the clarinettist and helping the pianist turning her sheet of music.


Hillegondakerk ( 1966 until 1978 )

After this performance – my hands were sweating of course - my first personal performance followed quickly on the organ of the Hillegondakerk. The occasion was the 25th wedding anniversary of my parents. It was their wish to receive a beautiful Christmas concert as a gift and who can resist such a request? The program was as follows:

Program of first organ performance at Hillegondakerk

kerst kerst
Jan and Henk assisting during the concert father and mother during the concert ( front left ) behind them Uncle Jan
After this intimate family performance I ventured outside. The Bergkapel congregation – where I was an organist – was the following year invited to the next Chrismas concert. Just to be sure of a good seat in the Hillegondakerk, my father made a ticket.


                   Father made the following comments on the program after the Christmas concert.

1e kerstconcert Hillegondakerk

The Christmas concerts were also made possible by the disinterested cooperation of the unforgettable verger and his wife Dirk and Eef van Vlissingen and several active church members of the Bergkapel. Several tasks had to be completed, for instance typing and printing the invitations and programs, lighting the candles, adjusting the chairs, the heating of the church etc. The church council made the church available free of charge, so no entrance fee had to be charged.
The following year the publicity was extended and the cover of the program was enriched with a drawing of the starting artist  Marleen Felius I knew Marleen because she was a member of the Bergkapel congregation.


The alto Reinata Heemskerk participated for the first time with the performance.I had collaborated several times with her in the Meidoornkerk in Rotterdam-Schiebroek. Reinata was most anxious to display her talents.

The press also took notice for the first time


In 1970 it became grander and different. The Hillegersberg's Chr. Men’s choir, Reinata Heemskerk and me in one program with the cooperation of an impresario who on behalf of Reinata took care of the organisation. 

Once again suitable attention in
newspaper  articles with the corresponding  reviews.


Geref. "Pinksterkerk" - Camplaan ( 1980 )

Heemstede - Geref. "Pinksterkerk"

After I had moved from Rotterdam to Bennebroek in 1978, I wanted to start again with playing the organ. Besides providing for the weekly Sunday church services in de O.L.V. Hemelvaart, I sought a suitable organ for the performances and I ended up in the Refomed “Pinksterkerk” in Heemstede.

It soon became apparent that it was problematic to study and give regular performances in this church. The reason for this was that the organ produced a lot of noise for the chess club who wanted to play their games in the meeting room situated down below.

In 1980 (Easter) I gave one performance.

Oude Kerk  - Wilhelminaplein ( 1980 until 1983 )

oude kerk heemstede
Oude Kerk - Heemstede - Two organ fronts

oude kerk heemstede
Heemstede - Oude Kerk
oude kerk heemstede
Oude Kerk - table

I had to search all over again. I ended up in the Oude Kerk ( Dutch Reformed ) on the Wilhelminaplein. Fortunately I was able to study and in close consultation with verger Rot able to give my performances. During the years 1980 until 1983 I was welcome in this radiant church. It is the church where Paul Chr. van Westering had been an organist. A beautiful organ with one peculiarity: with one play table you played on two organs (see the above photo), which provided a lot of opportunities and gave a “stereo” effect. When I heard in 1983 that there were well advanced plans to demolish the organ, it became time to change course again. Since then, the organ has been replaced by a restored one keyboard organ.  


R.K. Kerk O.L.Vrouwe Onb. Ontv. - Korte Zijlweg ( 1983 until 2000 )

By coincidence I ended up in this church. A member of the parish in Overveen asked me if I wanted to play the memorial service of a deceased family member. Unsuspecting, I went to the church and was immediately impressed by the magnificent organ and the sublime acoustics. Because I was still in search for an organ which would enable me to play my organ performances, I made the most of this opportunity. It wasn’t easy to put my foot between the doors. Eventually, I succeeded. The vicar at the time, Van Schie, and later vicar Jan Hopman literally held a “key” position, which is useful when you want to enter the church. I was able to give my performances in Overveen from 1983 until 2000.


R.K. Kerk Overveen - table
Overveen R.K. Kerk - Korte Zijlweg


Grote of St- Maartenskerk ( 1983 and 1984 )

Grote of St-Maartenskerk - Hillegom

Ton assisted during performances
During the years of 1983 and 1984 I gave several performances in the “Bollestreek”. In cozy Hillegom I was able to study and give performances until the restoration of the organ.

Den Haag

Grote of St- Jacobskerk  ( 1984 )

den haag
Table Grote of St-Jacobskerk
den haag
Grote of St-Jacobskerk - front

With the former verger of the Grote Kerk, I had a good contact. As a result of this, in 1984 I was able to give an evening performance in the dark. Only several candles near the organ were allowed to burn. The church council was left in the dark, otherwise the party couldn’t take place. With a modest number present it was a unforgettable evening.

den haag
Grote of St-Jacobskerk - Den Haag


Hartebrugkerk  ( 1986 )

           Hartebrugkerk - Leiden
                       Hartebrugkerk - front
Organ - Hartebrugkerk

When I moved from Heemstede to Leiderdorp in 1986, it was obvious that I searched the vicinity for suitable study-organs. Completely hidden between the crowded shopping streets of Leiden was the Hartebrugkerk. I walked in and started talking with the verger. She told me that Jan Schmitz once had been an organist in this church. Jan Schmitz was in those days active in the Foundation Organ centre in Leiden.

In the Hartebrugkerk I studied for a brief period, but it soon became apparent that because of the intensive use of the church building, a regular time to study was hard to realize. Fortunately I still was able to give a performance during the time of Advent.

Santiago de Compostela - Spain

Cathedral ( 1995 )

In 1994, together with my wife Inge, I made the pilgrim route to Santiago Compostela by car. I specifically say “by car” because the “Camino” obviously should be made by foot or bike. For years I had been a member of the The Flemish Institute of Santiago de Compostela in Belgium.  By regularly visiting the meetings of the institute I had gradually become enthusiastic about a tour to the grave of the apostle James. It turned out to be a terrific tour, but we were not able to see everything. After visiting the cathedral the juices started flowing. How terrific it would be if I could give a performance in that cathedral.

When I got home I went right to work. Through mediation of several board members of the Flemish Institute of Santiago de Compostela – Gerrit van Lent and Dirk Aerts -  I was given permission by the presidium of the cathedral to come. Because my birthday is on the 25th of May, it seemed to be an appropriate a gift to play the concert in the evening. And this is what happened in the following year of 1995.

It was a unforgettable experience. In the afternoon I had an hour to rehearse, which isn’t a lot of time to prepare. It was a pity that the organ was disgruntled and wasn’t in a perfect condition. The sympathetic organist of the cathedral told me that the organ needed a maintenance, which was all too true. In the evening I played my performance while the public simply walked around the cathedral. I had asked Inge to use this opportunity to make video and audio recordings. It is a feat to assist yourself and to turn the page of the music, but fortunately I succeeded. This was a milestone in my life as an organist.

Santiago de Compostela
Cathedral - exterior

Santiago de Compostela
Organ  - two fronts opposite each other

Santiago de Compostela
The Spanisch trumpets up close
Santiago de Compostela
Connection with below through a monitor and
downstairs through a monitor.
The distance to the sanctuary choir was huge.

Santiago de Compostela
Inge prepares the videocamera while
organist Manuel Gesto Garcia looks on.

Santiago de Compostela
    busy exploring the organ

Manuel Gesto Garcia looks on.

Several weeks later Manuel Gesto Garcia send me the following reaction and this  is the Dutch translation.