Anke de Bruijn had her first recorder and classical piano lessons at the age of five and seven respectively. As a teenager, she played and sang in the local church and gospel choir band and taught herself to improvise on the piano. Born in 1970 into a German-Dutch family she initially followed her passion for languages and studied English literature and linguistics at the University of Utrecht, where she became leader of a student choir. It was there that she discovered her talent for getting people to sing. She took up choral conducting studies in Utrecht, followed by music theory & history studies at the Schumann Academy (Utrecht/Zwolle Conservatorium, with Euwe de Jong and Erik Visser).
She studied conducting with Dirkjan Horringa and Koosje Kiezebrink and currently receives coaching from pianist/conductor Margaret Griffiths. She has studied singing with Janice Jackson, Paul Hameleers, Joy Lander, Esther Putter, and Mitchell Sandler.
Passionate about different styles of music, she sang in early music ensembles, vocal groups singing romantic and modern music and a women’s close harmony group, led by Tijs Krammer (Montezuma’s Revenge) and composer/singer Jetse Bremer (Nederlands Kamerkoor). Anke sang with the double quartet choir and instrumentalists, the Margaretha Consort (videos on Youtube Lotti’s Crucifixus and Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri, e.g. ad genua).
Anke’s teaching and conducting activities are rooted in her passion for enabling singers of all levels to free their voices. At her home in Southwest France she teaches her ‘Vocal Workouts’. These small group singing workshops can include singers from beginners to more experienced singers. Sessions focus on breath control and the participants become researchers, exploring their bodies and vocal space to produce this often elusive thing called voice. This almost scientific exploration at the start of the workshop reduces anxiety and makes it possible for even the least experienced of the group to ‘perform’ a song for the others in order to work on it.
Since moving from the Netherlands to the Lot / Dordogne in Southwest France in 2012, Anke has offered Singing Holidays, for groups of up to 25 individual singers or established choirs. Daily rehearsals take place in several of the acoustically-perfect Romanesque churches that dot the area and the holiday ends with a public performance in one of the churches.
In the Lot Anke conducts two choirs. La Chorale de Cazals is an international mixed choir of 40-plus members of all levels from total beginners to experienced soloists. Performances are now standing room only and audience members regularly rave about the professionalism and pure joy of the ‘wall of sound’. Parisian film maker, François Stuck, recently made a short documentary about La Chorale de Cazals.
Anke also directs Gaia, a vocal ensemble of fourteen women. Their repertoire consists of three- and four part songs from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical period, with some contemporary pieces. Gaia are regularly asked to perform – usually in medieval dresses – in the beautiful medieval churches or châteaux of the region as well as at private ceremonies and functions.
With her love of different musical styles, she performs with pianist Margaret Griffiths (baroque, classical, opera). She is lead singer of the band A Horse With No Name (with Hammond virtuoso Peter Duiverman and percussionist Rémy Bacharach), and forms the duo Sweet Jazz with guitarist / singer Angela Christian (BBC Big Band Orchestra, Sid Laurence Orchestra).
Anke speaks four languages and is also a writer for various magazines about life in France. She is the author of the books Peking Duck (1999) about the 1997 Peking to Paris Rally and Frisse [Fresh] Start in La Douce France (2017). She combines her two passions (language and music) in writing about music history, making original connections between past and present.
Anke’s articles on the history and beauty of Southwest France are published in Dutch magazines. Her second book was published recently. Her first book, Peking Duck, about the Peking to Paris Classic Rally, is on sale here.
Anke DE BRUIJN
SIRET 790 110 019 00029