Joël Vuik

In this interview-column you will get to know tomorrow’s best musicians, dancers and circusartists. This month: Joël Vuik (28), student Classical Singing.

Congratulations! You have won the audience award of the Prix d’Harmonie. How did you do that?

“I think it’s important to sing everything by heart, as it allows me to communicate much better with the audience. I feel that that has played a major part in winning the Prix d’Harmonie. Many vocalists sing from sheet music at live performances. That night I sang the oratorio Messiah by Georg Friedrich Händel, about the second coming of Jesus. I imagine that I’m a preacher with an important message. You really have to reach out to the audience and invite them to travel with you through the story. Also, I often make a few jokes before I start singing. It does help, you know, ha ha.”

How did you become a countertenor?

“I had been studying Music in Education for about two years when Winanda van Vliet advised me to listen to countertenors. She felt my voice would be very suitable for this. I immediately started playing recording by Andreas Scholl and Michael Chance. The sound of their voices was completely new to me. I loved it! Their voices are so pleasant and warm. I was immediately hooked. I especially like the way they use their head voice. So, in my third year of Music in Education I auditioned for the Classical Music Department. As I think it’s important to be able to teach as well, I wanted to finish both study programmes. I very much enjoy passing on my own knowledge to a new generation.”

On 29 June you will have your graduation performance at the Doelen. What can we expect?

“It is going to be great! Together with classmate Loes Cools I will perform in the Jurriaanse auditorium. We have opted for the grand approach. We feel that the acoustics of room 6.35 aren’t ideal, so we went looking for an alternative room. Also because I think it’s important to learn how to facilitate your own concert: as a fresh graduate you must be your own manager, musician and booker. Fortunately, the organisational work is going quite well. I’ve applied for a grant and when I get it we will be playing with the Os Orphicum orchestra directed by Iason Marmaras. That will be fantastic! I will be playing various pieces: from early Renaissance to modern repertoire by Codarts-alumni such as Enis Gümüs and Albert Manders. I am really looking forward to it and I’ll be practising every single day!”

What is your favourite spot in Rotterdam?

“De Doelen. I now work there as a publicity assistant, which has the great advantage that I can attend any concert I like. I go as often as I can and it is a very pleasant auditorium with great acoustics: you can really hear everything. If you bring along the sheet music you can follow every line of all the instruments exactly. There is no other place in the Netherlands that has that.”

To me, Codarts is…

“… a place where I have been able to fully develop myself in a safe manner. At the moment there are no other countertenors at Codarts, which is kind of nice for me. I started as a countertenor at a relatively late age and then it doesn’t hurt not to have too much competition. In addition, Codarts has amazing teachers. For instance, I think our language department is the best in the Netherlands. And the cafeteria has the view of a posh penthouse. Where else do you find that?”