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Frank Steijns, violin and bells (page 8)
August 8, 2020. Frank Steijns celebrates his 25th anniversary as city carillonneur of Heerlen. Congratulations Frank!! Read the article on the Harmony Parlor blogspot: click HERE. Frank Steijns still crazy about “musical Karate”.
Since the connection between carillon playing and karate is not explained in the article above, we still found another article in the “De Telegraaf” newspaper, by Eline Verburg, where it is explained more clearly. The article is titled: Consolation from the bell tower. We’ll add here some interesting extra sentences. In the Flemish (Belgian) town of Mechelen, the musical prodigy (Frank!) attended a tough course at the Royal Carillon Academy, while at the same time studying violin in Louvin (Belgium) at the conservatory. After an appointment in the city of Weert in 1994 as city carillonneur - in the St. Martinus church, which has one of the heaviest carillons in the Netherlands, weighing a mere 20,000 kilos, - he followed respectively in 1995 and 1997 his father in the cities of Heerlen and Maastricht. Since he plays his home-built mobile carillon in André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra in addition to the violin, he is considered the most frequently playing carillonneur in the world. Moreover, the heavy instrument is typically from Dutch / Flemish origin. “In the United States, for example, they only have ten carillons. For comparison: only the city of Amsterdam already has ten carillons”, Steijns says enthusiastically. “During the corona lock-down I noticed that the music of the carillon brought a lot of comfort. The bells have survived wars and disasters and always continue playing. That historical awareness creates a sense of connectives. That was also felt in other cities, especially when all the carillons of the major churches throughout the Netherlands played at the same time on March 20: “You'll never walk alone”. Shortly before Easter I played “Have mercy” by Bach, from the St Matthew Passion, but I also sometimes alternate the music with something more cheerful, like: “Always look on the bright side of life”." The carillonneur is also looking forward to the arrival of the Belgian Elien Van den Broeck (August 18), who is, at sixteen years old, the youngest carillon player in the world. "It is all the better that she is also a Belgian karate champion," laughs Steijns. "That seems to be a crazy combination, but playing the carillon is a top sport: operating the bells via a keyboard is even a bit like karate." The bells are "controlled" by a keyboard, with wooden sticks and pedals connected to the clappers. “That is hard work. I myself do strength training for my arms. My leg muscles are already well developed by all that climbing the stairs in the towers. Playing for 45 minutes is enough, otherwise it will be too tiring.”
Photo credits: Jan-Paul Kuit, Marcel van Hoorn.
August 12, 2020. Frank Steijns: 25 years The rebellious carillonneur! Interview with Frank Steijns, by L1, Limburg TV. Duration of the video: 6 minutes. Translation Ineke/John, subtitles Ruud.
Nederlandse Beiaard School. Carillon School in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
On August 13th, Frank played on the Heerlen carillon, together with violinist Enzo Kok and L1 presenter Emil Szarkowics, clarinet. At that time there was a heatwave going on in the Netherlands. Duration of the video: 40 minutes.
December 2020. Holy Night. Traditionally the big bell “Grameer” (Grandmother), which is in the tower of the St. Servaas church, would be rang on Christmas Eve by the members of the Maastricht bell-ringers organization “St. Monulphus and St. Gondulphus”. Due to the corona restrictions it is not possible to do it this year, since the clock of 6300 kilos is rung manually and the 1,5 m. distance between people cannot be guaranteed. Instead Frank Steijns offered to play Christmas songs on the St. Servaas carillon from the church tower on Christmas Eve. We are very grateful for this generous offer that gives this special Holy Night an extraordinary touch with the festive sounds of familiar Christmas carols. Frank will also play the bells from the St. Pancratius church in the town of Heerlen. Live on Facebook on Christmas Eve 2020. (The photo below is taken from the tower of the Maastricht town hall. Far away you can see the churches of St. John (the red one) and St. Servaas (the two yellow towers).
December 31, 2020: At the stroke of midnight, city carillonneur Frank Steijns ushers in the new year with Georg Friedrich Händel's Music for the Royal Fireworks (HWV 351). He begins and ends the concert at the city carillon with ABBA's "Happy New Year". That's how musical fireworks can be heard over the city center. All bells in the Municipality of Maastricht are also ringing as a sign of hope in the new year. We wish you a "melodious" 2021 !!
Painted by Mathy Engelen.
January 1st, 2021. Happy New Year! (in lock down situation by Covid-19). Frank Steijns and his wife Madieke Marjon wish everyone a happy new year with a cLockdown concert from the church tower of the St. Martinus Church in the town of Weert (Limburg), with ABBA’s famous song: Happy New Year!
Source: The Limburger, by Rob van Deurzen. Photo: Peter Schols The Weerter city carillonneur Frank Steijns rings in the New Year with a "cLockdown" concert. On New Year's Day at 3 pm he’ll play the carillon of St. Martin's Church. He is vocally being accompanied by opera singer Madieke Marjon. Both musicians will perform a few Viennese waltzes, but will mainly perform operetta and musicals. Madieke Marjon's songs are amplified by a sound system on top of the tower, so that it is in harmony with the bells. The concert can be heard throughout the city center. It is not the first time that Frank Steijns performs these kinds of musical stunts from the tower. Previously singer Paskal Jakobsen of BLØF (a band) also sang from high above in the tower with Steijns on the carillon. Steijns does not think that a massive rush to the city center will happen with this concert: “It won't have that kind of impact. The carillon has proven to be the ultimate corona-proof instrument for the past year. The carillon festival was just about the only musical festival that could go on as usual last year. There is enough space in the city center to listen to it, maintaining a proper distance. People can also just open up a window or just listen from the balcony.” The idea for the cLockdown concert is the brainchild of the Friends of the Carillon, who are committed to special activities surrounding the famous carillon of Weert, which is considered one of the most beautiful and largest in Europe. Chairman Marleen Gresnigt: “With this initiative, a traditional New Year's concert will still take place in Weert. We are grateful to the municipality of Weert, which enthusiastically embraced the initiative right away. It is a gift for the entire city center”.
Do you want to know more about the Maastricht town hall city carillon? Click HERE to read an article, written by Frank Steijns. (It is only in Dutch). To know more about Royal Eijsbouts, the only bell foundry and factory of tower clocks left in the world, located in the Dutch town of Asten, click HERE. At the end of the page you can find a translation link to English and many more languages.
January 7, 2021. Fretting Friday Interview, by Arnold Smit. About special music instruments that always stay with musicians. Today it’s Frank Steijns’ turn with the Maastricht city carillon but also with two very nice stories about Frank’s two special violins. Duration: 24 minutes. Translation and subtitles: John, Ineke, Ruud.
January 19, 2021. Rijsemus violins. As a perfect extension to the Fretting Friday interview, The Limburger posted an article about father and son luthiers Rijsemus from Maastricht. Author: René Willems, photo credits: Jean-Pierre Geussens and The Limburger. “It is a nice idea that in three hundred years there will still be real Rijsemusses in this world”. Martin Rijsemus has been building violins for over forty years in Maastricht and now together with son Niels. A lot of prominent violinists play a Rijsemus. Even André Rieu has one. Did you notice that the violin has been made more popular in Maastricht because of André Rieu, just as all the girls wanted to play the flute at the time when they saw Berdien Stenberg on TV? Father Rijsemus: “You can see that effect, yes. Especially among the youth, of course.” That is also good for your business on the Maastrichter Heidenstraat, we believe. Son Niels: “Sure. You know you are not going to become rich from violin making. Very quickly there is three hundred Euros worth of wood worked into one. And when you realize that, it can easily take you three to four hundred hours of work, you know that you are barely earning five Euros an hour if you sell such an instrument for let’s say about ten thousand Euros. We have to primarily focus on repairing violins.” But it should still make you feel proud when you see a violinist with a real Rijsemus on stage, or even on TV. Father Martin: “Of course. And what I really like is that you know that our violins can easily last two or three centuries. In other words: in 300 years there will still be Rijsemus violins.” How do connoisseurs recognize violins that come from your studio in the city center of Maastricht? Son Niels: “When you look very closely, you can see that the curl of our violins is slightly different. And on the inside our brand is burned into it. But you only see that when you have the violin in your hands.” Can you hear the difference? Do your violins sound different from others? Father Martin: “Hardly. In principle, violins have been the same for centuries, and they sound the same. In that sense there is also little difference between a Stradivarius and a violin from our time. They tested that once in a large concert hall, where modern violins were even more appreciated than the Stradivarius.” Still, collectors easily pay a few million for a Stradivarius. Rieu is even considering saving his orchestra during corona time by selling his own Stradivarius. Son Niels: "He could also sell his Rijsemusses, but then he would probably only last half an hour longer….” Father Martin: “That difference in price may be unfair, yes. But oh well, that ultimately is true in the end for so many of us in this life.”
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