Harry van der Kamp


Harry van der Kamp is generally viewed as one of the leading Dutch bass singers of his generation. He has sung 30 or more operatic roles, but has tended to favor ensemble and solo repertory, focusing largely on music written during the Renaissance era up through the eighteenth century. Yet he has also participated in many modern works, such as Alexander Knaifel's opera Alice in Wonderland, in which he sang four roles.

Van der Kamp was born in Kampen, Holland, in 1947. His first advanced studies were in law and psychology, but he eventually decided to enroll in music study at the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory. There his voice teachers were Elisabeth Cooymans and Max van Egmond. Later he took vocal instruction from the well-known English countertenor Alfred Deller and from French baritone Pierre Bernac. He also studied with Herman Woltman (1974).

During his student years van der Kamp sang with Cappella Amsterdam, under Jan Boeke. He left that ensemble in 1975, the year after he joined the Nederlands Kamerkoor, a group he would remain with for 20 years, serving as its artistic advisor from 1980-1987. He made a number of notable recordings as a member of this distinguished ensemble, in particular of several J.S. Bach cantatas, with conductors Frans Brueggen, Ton Koopman, and Sigiswald Kuijken.

In 1984 van der Kamp founded the vocal ensemble Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam, its range of repertory encompassing both early and modern music. During the 1980s and 1990s he also forged a major career in opera and concert works. Van der Kamp has appeared in and recorded wide-ranging operatic repertory, from the well-known -- Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Die Zauberflöte -- to the little-known and modern -- Stefan Wolpe's Zeus und Elida. He has also sung and recorded such solo/choral staples as Verdi's Requiem and Haydn's Creation. In 1994 van der Kamp was appointed professor of vocal studies at Bremen's Hochschule für Musik, a post he still held in 2006. He also served as a visiting professor of vocal studies at the Helsinki-based Sibelius Academy in 1997-1998.

In the new century van der Kamp remains fairly active, both in the concert hall and on recordings. His later recordings include the NMC CD of Klaas de Vries' oratorio A King, Riding (2004) and the CPO issue of Carlo Gesualdo's madrigals, Books I--III (2005).