Reunion with singers of Dekoor Close Harmony in Shunde
Johan Rooze reported about the meeting with his former students at the Sing'n'Joy China 2015
Dekoor Close Harmony belongs to the most successful and well-known students' choirs in Europe. Located at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, the Vocal group is known for its great performances in the field of Jazz and Pop songs. The INTERKULTUR Artistic Director Johan Rooze conducted the choir for 23 years. In this time the cooperation between the conductor and his students developed into a very close relationship.
Due to the choir's popularity Johan Rooze never had any problems to fill open positions of the choir, when students graduated or moved into a job. "So through the ages, I saw many students come and go. It was always exiting, every season new voices, building up a new choral sound and consequently we changed the whole repertoire (about 20 arrangements) every academic year.
After the time in the choir some students started their own ensembles or began to study singing, so that nowadays there are many Pop & Jazz singing ensembles in and around Utrecht of which many singers have their roots in Dekoor."
In 2008 Johan Rooze decided to move to Korea and leave all his choral work in Netherlands behind, including his 'Baby' Dekoor Close Harmony. Since this life changing step he met the choir and his new conductor Christoph Mac-Carty at concerts and competitions around the world, including the World Choir Games in Shaoxing (2010), Cincinnati (2012) and Riga (2014), where the choir achieved multiple successes in the categories of Jazz and Pop. During this time Johan Rooze already worked for INTERKULTUR as Artistic Director.
A reunion and a trip into the past at the same time
In November 2015 the Sing'n'Joy China 2015 took place in Shunde, China. During this pedagogical festival Johan Rooze met the Vocal group 'The Junction' consisting of among others two former Dekoor Close Harmony members – the all-round singer Henk Kraaijeveld and the mezzo-soprano Margriet van Duivenvoorde.
Margriet studied Music Education and continued with Jazz Vocals, maybe because of 'Dekoor-inspiration'. Henk firstly started a career as jurist but after his time in Dekoor Close Harmony he studied Jazz Singing in Utrecht and New York (Manhattan School of Music). Not least because of his musical talent and enthusiasm he won the 2013th edition of the Dutch Jazz Vocalists Competition.
"Meeting Henk and Margriet in Shunde in November 2015 was special in two ways. First of al it was great to see how much their ensemble 'The Junction' had grown. I saw them two years ago at a festival in Suwon, Korea when they just had started at they have grown a lot. They put up a great show during the concerts.
The second thing was that when we were having our final concert in Shunde, China, at the same time Dekoor in Utrecht, The Netherlands, was having its 30 year's reunion, where most of the old members from 1985 on came to meet each other. That was very unfortunate for me because I should have been there too."
On this occasion Johan, Henk and Margriet shot some pictures and sent them as greeting to friends in Netherlands. With chicken and beer they remembered the times of Dekoor, life changing decisions and talked about future plans until late at night.
"One of the things that crossed my mind that night after our final concert on November 7, 2015 in Shunde, again as it did when I decided to leave the Netherlands and move to South Korea was: It is so good to have success in music and enjoy the won celebrity feeling, but it is also good to go to your next step in life and start something new and exiting. So it gives me great feeling that Dekoor and also many singers, now professional, are still going strong and perhaps even better. I am glad I could be part of their inspiration to make music their life. I will go on to teach, sing, play, conduct and hope I can infect even more people with the musical virus. I think the world deserves and needs music, we can not do without it!"