Biography

Jacques Bank (born April 18 1943) studied composition with Ton de Leeuw and Jos Kunst at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. In 1974 he finished his studies with the Prize for Composition. After that he broke radically from his early serialistic tinted writing. Reorientation on tonality followed. From that moment on the starting-point of new compositions was the translation of an emotional stimulus, often generated by some extra-musical element, into music. The first result of this new approach was Last Post (1975). He wrote numerous works, varying from operas to solo pieces. Nearly always was the text a starting-point. Consequently, compositions in which the voice is used in one way or other are in the majority.

At the 1985 Rostrum of Composers Minutes of Lives received an important commendation. In 1989 the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize (the most prestigious prize for composition in The Netherlands) for his Requiem voor een Levende. The mini-opera The Piano Teacher was awarded the Prize of the International Competition for Mini-opera for Children 1992 in Warsaw.

Performances took place in Holland and abroad. For instance, during the Gaudeamus Musicweeks,  the Holland Festival and the World Music Days in Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Seoul and Zagreb.

He participated regularly in radio programmes. Among them was a series dedicated to the life and works of Hector Berlioz. This led in 1993 to Episodes de la Vie d’un Artiste. It was commissioned  by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for the celebration of its 75th anniversary. The Utrecht Conservatory organized in 1996 a lecture and three concerts, dedicated to Bank’s compositions, including Mesmerised and Late of the City of Rome.

In 2000 De Bijlmer Opera, commissioned by the orchestra De Volharding, was performed twelve times with great success.
Many years of cooperation with the Basho ensemble led in 2001 to a series of concerts with three compositions especially written for this ensemble: Gebroken Sprookjes (Broken Fairy Tales)Fred Walking Badger and Aaron Rivers are missing and John Clare.

Also in 2001 the recorder concerto Recorders was performed for the first time by the Austrian recorder player Helge Stiegler and the ensemble Mosaik in Austria and a year later Tonal Colours was premièred by the Irish organist Michael Quinn on the organ of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. During a concert in Lissabon in 2003 the ensemble Ciudate performed four pieces by Bank. Among them Blind Boy Fuller, his first ‘official’ composition, dating from 1966.

Commissioned by Dutch Radio, he wrote in 2004 the composition Uiteindelijke Dingen (Final Matters). In 2004 Bank also wrote the themes for the 45th International Organ-improvisationconcours in Haarlem. In 2006 the Nederlands Zangtheater went on tour in several towns in The Netherlands with the ‘choir opera’ De ondergeschoven Koningin (The illegitimate Queen)Invitation to Eternity, the last composed, but first part of the John Clare Triptych was performed for the first time by the Canadian ensemble Continuum in Toronto in 2007.

Eighteen years after the first performance the Requiem voor een Levende (Requiem for a living One)was performed again  by a.o. the choir Consensus Vocalis and the Nederlands Accordeon Ensemble in 2007 and 2008.

In 2009/2010 Bank finished his opera Major Taylor, the fastest Bicycle Rider in the World about Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor, the first black sports hero of America. It was commissioned by the Orchestra de Volharding. In 2011 his composition Die Pfeiferstube for 2 flute-soloists, 8 wind instruments, piano and percussion was performed for the first time in the Bimhuis in Amsterdam by the David Kweksilber Big Band. This orchestra also commissioned the piece.

In the autumn of 2011 Bank is Composer in Residence at the Utrecht Conservatory.

In September 2012 the cd BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, dedicated to three compositions by Jacques Bank: John ClareFred Walking Badger and Aaron Rivers are missing and Gebroken Sprookjes will be released. In November 2012 Felix und Clara for mixed choir and string quartet will be performed in New York by the choir CANTORI NEW YORK conducted by Mark Shapiro.

In November 2014 Bank’s composition The Jazzman, his Wife and the Persian Poet is premiered in New York. It has been written for narrator, mixed chorus and instrumental ensemble and commissioned by the chorus CANTORI NEW YORK (conductor Mark Shapiro) with financial support of the ANN STOOKEY FUND for NEW MUSIC.

On the 2nd of May 2015 Bank’s thoroughly revised version of his Die Pfeiferstube was performed for the first time by the David Kweksilber Big Band in the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne.

On the 15th of November of 2015 Diptych nr. 2consisting of A Tough Winter and Finally Arrived in the version for mezzo-soprano, accordion and violoncello, was premiered by Trio Vernice in Haus Ruschhaus in Münster (Germany).

In 2016 Bank wrote Moya’s Song a composition for mixed choir and organ, based on the poem Deaf Poets by the English author Moya Howlett.

28 May 2017 the first performance of Moya’s Song took place during the Composers’ Portrait Jacques Bank in the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. The performers were Jelena Bazova (organ) and the Chamber Choir Ad Parnassum, conductor Anthony Zielhorst.

The other compositions of his performed during this concert were: Purcelliana (organ 4 hands/4 feet), A frozen trumpet in Helsinki (piccolo trumpet and mixed choir), The End (baritone solo), Vier Lieder ohne Worte (string quartet) and Felix und Clara (string quartet and mixed choir).

In 2018 Bank wrote Fifths for solo trumpet and A Waltz for Wim for trumpet and organ (Peter van Dinther-trumpet, Piet van der Steen-organ). On the 17th of June 2018 Bank’s song-cycle Druppels op Wangen (words: Maaike Klaster) and three parts of Monsieur Racine mène la danse were performed for the first time by Noortje Bank (mezzo-soprano) and Brook Cuden (piano).
In 2018 Bank also wrote the piano piece Prelude for Frederique Lucanet’s 24 Preludia-project.

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