– “Songs of the Ardennes”, part 1

It’s already four weeks since our two concerts during the BAM! festival in La Roche-en- Ardenne. Today I’d like to re-introduce the video, a compilation, of the four poems by Jacques Perk, which have been put to music by the Dutch composer Peter Visser and which have experienced their World Premiere during these concerts.

For a better understanding and perhaps appreciation of these works, I’d like to present the essence of the first poem as Eric has “translated” it. The poem is called “Dorpsvesper”, “Village Vespers”. I’d like to remind you that the video only shows a part of the songs. If you are interested in the entire work, please do contact us!

For contact
Jacques Perk
1859 – 1881

Village Vespers

The day is almost over, the bird’s about to rest.
Churchbells summon to congregate.
Assembling there in prayer, people celebrate the day.
Hate dies when common spirits join.

You see paintings made by the artist Daisy Hoste from Enneille/Durbuy, which match so wonderfully with the songs.

Do enjoy the words, the melody and the atmosphere of the “Songs of the Ardennes”!

Marijke Persijn

– Compilation of the “Chants d’Ardenne”

Chants d’Ardenne

Already three weeks have passed since we performed both our concerts in the framework of the BAM! festival in La Roche-en-Ardenne. I promised you to give the texts of the four poems of Jacques Perk which have been put to music by Peter Visser. But today, as a sort of “introduction”, I’d like to present the video that Eric has made and through which you can get an impression of the words, melodies and atmosphere as well as of the paintings made by Daisy Hoste, which match so well with the “Chants d’Ardenne”.

If you are interested to see and or hear them in their entirety, or if you have an idea about an occasion where they could be performed, please contact our MaGMa Trio.

Enjoy the video and enjoy a lovely week!

Marijke Persijn

– Three art forms brought together

From left to right: Sophie Molhan (Elderman for Culture, La Roche), Guy Guilloteaux (Mayor of La Roche), Marijke Persijn, Peter Visser (composer, Voorburg, NL), Daisy Hoste (painter), Marijke Verbeeck, Marco Kalkman (harpsicord, Schiedam, NL), Gérard Lambert, Piet Sleeking (Elderman for Culture, Dordrecht)

We really needed a bit of a pause after the last few weeks which led to the two concerts on 5 and 6 october 2019 in Hotel Floréal. That’s why you couldn’t find our blog last weekend.

Our Trio

We had proposed to perform a project under the name “MaGMa et Amices”. Both the BAM! festival as the Dutch Embassy to Belgium supported our proposal, in which we combined poetry, painting and music.

With Marco Kalkman, harpsicord

Isn’t it remarkable that this is a genuine international project? People from Wallony, Flanders and the Netherlands worked together. Our MaGMa Trio is already exemplary for this: Gérard was born and raised in La Roche and lives here again nowadays; Marijke Verbeeck originated in Flanders; I come from the Netherlands. And we saw contributions of Peter Visser, the Dutch composer from Voorburg; Marco Kalkman, who played the harpsicord during the Perk-songs, comes from Schiedam. And Daisy Hoste, the painter, originally comes from Flanders, but is a Walloon since ages now.

Eric van der Horst has been arranging, discussing, writing and talking for months with the organisers of the BAM! festival, representatives of the city of La Roche, representatives of the Embassy of the Netherlands to Belgium and several Eldermen for Culture of cities where Jacques Perk spent part of his life. It resulted in actual support and/or presence from Hanna Oosterbaan and Mirthe Demaerel of the Dutch Embassy, Mayor Guy Guilloteaux of La Roche, Elderman Sophie Molhan of La Roche and Piet Sleeking, Elderman of Dordrecht, the city where Jacques Perk was born. And we definitely should not forget mentioning Michel Defays, coordinator of the BAM! festival and Jean-Michel Bodelet, coordinator of “Action Animation Tourisme” of La Roche. And last but not least a very warm Thank You to management and staff of the Hotel Floréal for their helpful and understanding cooperation.

But … we could only enjoy these moments so much because of you, our audience from Wallony, Flanders and the Netherlands!

Our audience

The presence of the Elderman for Culture of Dordrecht, Piet Sleeking, made it even more special. He had come to La Roche with his wife and gave an interesting speech. Having been a teacher for the Dutch language, he had a special interest in this project with poems by Jacques Perk put to music.

Coming weeks we will show the paintings by Daisy Hoste, which were inspired by or relate to these poems.

We wish you all a very nice week!

Marijke Persijn

– The Perk project is over now!

To all who have been present at the two events “In the footsteps of the poet Perk”: we are gratefull for your interest!

Castle in ruines – Daisy Hoste

To all who have supported our project we’d like to say: this further step in the development of Culture in La Roche-en-Ardenne wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Thank you so much!

Our special gratitude goes out to

  • The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgium, Hanna Oosterbaan, cultural attaché and Mirthe Demaerel, department for Culture and Public diplomacy
  • The Mayor of La Roche-en-Ardenne, Guy Guilloteaux
  • The coördinator of the BAM! festival, Michel Defays
  • The Elderman for Culture of La Roche-en-Ardenne, Sophie Molhan
  • The Elderman for Culture of Dordrecht, birth place of Jacques Perk, Piet Sleeking
  • The coördinator of “Action Animation Tourisme”, Jean-Michel Bodelet
  • Management and staff of the Hotel Floréal: your willingness and flexibility were an enormous help
  • Peter Visser, composer for putting four Perk poems to music
  • All performing artists:
    • Marijke Persijn, mezzosoprano of the MaGMa Trio
    • Marijke Verbeeck, flautist of the MaGMa Trio
    • Gérard Lambert, harpsicord player of the MaGMa Trio
    • Marco Kalkman, harpsicord player during the Perk songs
    • Daisy Hoste, painter, for her works, inspired by Perk
    • Eric van der Horst for introductory and connecting texts
The trout – Daisy Hoste

Designing and realising this project has been an intense and amazing experience!

We wish you an excellent week!

Marijke Persijn

– Starting time of the Perk concerts

The adapted poster

Last Friday and Saturday we really enjoyed rehearsing for our coming concerts. Marco Kalkman had come over from the Netherlands so we could better study on the “Chants d’Ardenne”.

with Bernhard Kühn

And as surprise, Gérard, Marijke, Marco and me gave a little concert in the church of La Roche for friends of Erics. And it even was an extraordinary moment because one of them reveiled himself as a fantastic baritone. He sang a solo piece and two duetts together with me. We had studied these “secretely” on Friday, after they had arrived … nobody had noticed!

Marco Kalkman

A very warm “thank you” to Marco who played a toccata by Sweelinck on the church organ. As well as to Marijke and Gérard and of course the baritone Bernhard Kühn.

And now we are counting the last days and nights before our two concerts coming weekend.

On Saturday 5 October both the venue and the cash desk are open at 15.00 hrs. The concert will start at 15.30 hrs with speeches by the Mayor of La Roche, mr. Guilloteaux and the Elderman for Culture, Sophie Molhan. The Elderman for Culture of the city of Dordrecht, birthplace of Jacques Perk, will introduce the four “Chants d’Ardenne”. 

Sunday 6 October the venue and the cash desk are also open at 15.00 hrs. The concert will start at 15.30 hrs, this time without speeches.  

The two concerts will take place at Hotel Floréal in La Roche-en-Ardenne.

We are absolutely looking forward to meeting you this weekend!

Marijke Persijn

– Dutch high-level support for our Perk Project

The adapted poster

On Friday 20 september we received news from the Embassy of The Netherlands to Belgium: “The commission has decided to reward your application for “Dans les pas du poète Perk”!

This was excellent news indeed!

Eric has commited a lot of time and energy in establishing contact with the Embassy and had asked whether they might be interested in our project in the framework of the BAM! festival 2019 here in La Roche-en-Ardenne.

Informally they were quite positive but, understandibly, we had to follow the official route and had to participate in an open call for “cultural ambassadors”. After many weeks of waiting impatiently, now we had the answer: YES, the project had been selected and a representative from the Embassy will be present during the concert on Saturday 5 October in hotel Floréal!


What made us very happy as well was the confirmation of the presence of the elderman for Culture of Dordrecht, where Jacques Perk was born on 10 June 1859. Mister P. Sleeking kindly accepted the invitation to adress the audience, introducing the four “Chants d’Ardenne”. Four poems by Jacques Perk were put to music, as you might know by now, by Peter Visser specifically for our MaGMa Trio.

It is definitely going to be a promising event: the Mayor of La Roche has invited his relations from the governmental and cultural world in the province of Luxemburg and Wallony; The Embassy of the Netherlands to Belgium will be present; the elderman for Culture of Dordrecht will introduce Jacques Perk; Daisy Hoste exceptionally will expose paintings of hers, with new ones, inspired on the four musical poems; Marco Kalkman will accompany the “Chants d’Ardenne” on harpsicord and our Trio will propose one of the Fables by Jean de la Fontaine in two different versions, one of which was composed by Marco and … we as the MaGMa Trio celebrate our first “lustrum”, our five year anniversary.

You’ll understand that the character of the concerts of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October will be a bit different. We advise you to make a reservation if you’d like to be present.

As a result of the above, the poster had of course to be adapted to the role of the Dutch Embassy. You see their logo now between the co-partners in the project at the bottom and also the phrase “avec le soutien de l’Ambassade du Royaume des Pays-Bas en Belgique” has been added: ”with support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Belgium”.  

Enjoy the week!

Marijke Persijn

– Jacques, Jacques and Jack

Yesterday I overheard Eric talking through the phone with a certain Jacques and it completely confused me. Of course I know the French poet Jacques Prévert. Last week I found his booklet “Paroles” in a book-exchange cupboard at Bardonwez. During Secundary School, I participated in a declamation contest of the Alliance Francaise with his “Page d’Ecriture” and “Complainte de Vincent”. My mother coached me.

M.A. Perk in front of the monument

And of course I am studying very hard on the “4 Chants d’Ardenne”, composed by Peter Visser on the poems of the Dutch romantic poet Jacques Perk, who was of great importance for La Roche-en-Ardenne. Do you know the monument for Jacques and his father Marie Adrien Perk, pastor of the Walloon church in the Netherlands, which stands on the roadside of the Avenue du Hadja, as can be seen on the picture above.

And of course we know Monsieur Jacques who makes these nice thin chocolate slices for on our sandwiches. Last weekend we were visited by friends from the Netherlands, France and the UK and we gave them each a package and they loved it!

Daisy Hoste

Could there still be another Jacques? Sure, but written as Jack. He is going to repair our terrace, which wasn’t properly done a decade ago and now has to be renewed. Jack is a very kind guy: he allowed me to stick a flyer of our concert of 5 and 6 October on the windscreen of his van and will distribute flyers as well. And, such a coincidence, he lives in the same street as our fellow artist Daisy Hoste, who will expose paintings of hers during our concerts.

Cultural Center of Bavaux

It really helps t know that we get a lot of support of the Dutch living here in Wallonie. Jack distributes flyers. Ren de Vree of the digital newsmagazine “Waals Weekblad” (Walloon Weekly) has made publicity for the workshop “Chant Souriant” – “Sing with a smile” which I am going to give at the Cultural Center of Barvaux from 10 October onward. I will use some poems by Jacques Prévert here as well.

If you are interested to participate in these workshops, you are more than welcome! Of course we will sing, but I will also pay attention to other aspects that relate to the body and the voice: warming up the voice, voice exercises (vocalises), bodywork before singing (a bit of yoga, brain gym), meditation and poems, breathing and posture, personal presentation.

If you’d like to help us distributing flyers for our concerts on 5 and 6 October, please contact one of us. It will be much appreciated.

Enjoy the week

Marijke Persijn

– Improvising a song at Saint Thibaut

The improvisation

Saturday 7 september the little chapel of Saint Thibaut was open to the public because of the Day of Cultural Heritage. That was the reason for our friends and dogs to visit it. The old priest proposed me to sing something and I did improvise on a text he gave me. I really love the place and the chapel. I had the pleasure to sing here several times being accompanied by Véronique Dupont, Peter Visser, our trio MaGMa and all alone. Please have a look at the videos my husband Eric van der Horst has made about these musical moments at the hermitage.

Saint Thibaut 2014

I started performing at Saint Thibaut in 2013. This year however our MaGMa Trio (Marijke Persijn – mezzozoprano, Marijke Verbeeck – flute and Gérard Lambert – harpsicord) will take part in the BAM! festival here in La Roche-en-Ardenne. We will bring opera arias and cantatas by Bach, Handel, Lully, Pergolesi and Rameau. And,as a special, we will perform the fable “Le Corbeau et le Renard / “The Raven and the Fox” by Jean de la Fontaine in two versions. The first, in French, with music composed by Georges van Parys (composer of the music for “Les Misérables”). The second, in Dutch, with music composed by Marco Kalkman who will also assist us playing the harpsicord. And we will bring the old song “Plaisir d’amour” by Martini which you all know and love so much.

At the very end of this concert, we will bring “Quatre Chansons d’Ardenne”, four poems by the Dutch romantic poet Jacques Perk, put to music for our Trio by Peter Visser. For these pieces Marco Kalkman will play Gérards harpsicord.

And it is a great pleasure to announce that the painter Daisy Hoste will join us to show, amongst others, four new paintings she made, inspired by the poems of Jacques Perk!

Enjoy the week

Marijke Persijn

– My mother taught me to love poetry

On 22 August 2019 my mother passed away. Two days before her 92nd birthday. She was part of our lives for a very long time, especially for me, being the eldest of her children.

In memoriam Franske Persijn – Jorritsma

She taught me to love litterature and poems alike. She was my personal coach and following her advise I won prices at declamation competitions. Even with two poems by Jacques Prévert, in French.

Our childhood was filled with the stories by the Dutch writer Annie M.G. Schmidt with her splendid sense of humour. But my mother appreciated other poets just as much. In her cupboard I found anthologies of poetry, even in the Frisian language and South-African.

Until her last days she was member of a small group which shared poems and read them to eachother. At the very end, they visited her at her place, because she couldn’t go out anymore.

F. Persijn – Jorritsma
1927 – 2019

During the week preceding her passing, Eric and I visited her every day. She was very clear of mind, gentile and had an interest in us, our children and grand children. I read verses for hear and parts of entries in my “Poetry Album”, like the poem she wrote on the 4th of March 1964. This poem finds its base in the Bible, the first lettre to the Corinthians, verse 13. During my reading she looked at me intensely. Afterward she recited this poem “How great love is” by Harriet Laurey all by heart!

Eric composed a videoclip for the ceremony last Friday, 31 August. He edited photos of my mother and our family into the already existing video in which our MaGMa Trio performs “Eternal Source of Light Divine” by G.F. Handel. I’d like to ask your special attention for the photos where I read to her from the “Poetry Album” and the blue Bible.

During the ceremony I sang part of “Swing low sweet chariot”, a song that ran through my mind during the night she passed … I sang it every day since.

The picture of flowers she appreciated so much

Marijke Persijn

– Gluck and the death of Euridice

C.W. von Gluck

Stories from ancient Greec mythology have inspired writers and composers through the ages. Amongst them Christopo Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787). He was originally from Bohemia and moved to Prague in 1731 to dedicate his life to music. Not something his father was proud of. Then in 1736 he oves to Milan, following composition lessons with Giovanni Battista Sammartini. In 1741 his first opera was performed, Artaserse. Because this was a great success, many Italian cities wanted him to write for them as well. Even London found him which led to him discovering Händel and his music. After 1746 he was bandmaster of a travelling music opera company. In 1752 he moves again, to Vienna this time, where he was appointed Composer at the Court of Mary Theresa. Here he died in 1787.

Orfeo ed Euridice

Gluck mainly composed operas and was known for creating so called “reform operas”. They were a reaction to the serious Italian operas from those days, the opera seria, in which the storyline was hardly important and the virtuosity of the voices was dominant.

During his time in Vienna, Gluck discovered additional possibilities. For him the ideal situation in art would be achieved when all art forms would be equally contributing to the realization of the dramatic line in the opera. “Orfeo ed Euridice” was an attempt to realise this idea.

In Vienna he was not successful with this kind of opera, but in Paris the appreciation was completely different. Here they already had learned to love the French “tragédie-lyrique”, which resembled the reform opera more or less.

“Che farò senza Euridice” from the opera “Orfeo ed Euridice” probably has become his most renowned and appreciated aria. Today I would like to highlight this piece as it was my mothers favorite. She passed away on the 22nd of August 2019. She got to know this aria through the interpretation by her sister Dora, who had a warm alto voice. Gérard Lambert and myself are very happy that our interpretation of this aria, with its recitative, has become our most viewed and appreciated clip on YouTube!

To honour my mother who would have reached the age of 92 on the 24th of August this year, I’d like to present that video, recorded during our Concert Quattuor on 27 september 2014 in the Sint-Nicolas church of La Roche-en-Ardenne.

I am convinced that this great music will touch your hearts as much as it does ours, both through its music and its words and – as I hope – our interpretation.

Che farò senza Euridice
Dove andrò senza il mio ben.
Euridice, o Dio, risponde
Io son pure il tuo fedele.
Euridice! Ah, non m´avvanza
più socorso, più Speranza
ne dal mondo, ne dal ciel.

What will I do without Euridice
Where will I go without my beloved one.
Euridice, oh God, answer
I am entirely your loyal one.
Euridice! Ah, it doesn´t give me
any help, any hope
neither from this world, nor from heaven.

Enjoy the week

Marijke Persijn