Mieneke van der Velden

Mieneke van der Velden

"That girl should play the gamba" was the advice given by a good friend of my parents. And that was the best advice he could have given, as I can’t imagine an instrument that would suit me better. So I started at the age of 9, first on a soprano viol with steel strings and tuning adjusters.

Although in my puberty I was often found enjoying myself on a windsurfing board, my love of music and the gamba triumphed, and I soon realised that I wanted to go the conservatoire. After my studies at the Utrechts Conservatorium, I ended up in The Hague with Wieland Kuijken. His lessons are still inspiring me today, and they formed me as a musician. For years now, I’ve been giving lessons myself at the conservatoires in The Hague and Amsterdam, where I cite Wieland on a regular basis.

Working with the new generation gives me lots of energy. It’s a great privilege to guide the students in their development, and before you know it they’re new colleagues on your ‘own’ stage. For example, I’ve played alongside my students and ex-students in the Kunst der Fuge and the Brandenburg Concertos.

It gives me great pleasure to compile concert programmes for conservatoire projects or for my own ensemble, in which vocal music plays a main role. It’s a luxury to be able to choose from the most amazing pieces and to see a wonderful programme emerge every time. The gamba repertoire has an enormous wealth of different combinations and styles. I count myself very fortunate that I was a girl who should play the gamba.

Watch this documentary with Mieneke on the viola da gamba: