Henk Alkema, composer, conductor, pianist, teacher


Henk Alkema (20 November 1944 – 4 August 2011)

On a sunny Thursday morning, I cycled by the home of my composition classmate Mari-anne Hof to post a letter and see if she was around. I had not seen her for a year. I felt the need to tell her that I had gone to see our teacher Henk Alkema recently and that he was not well. In fact, he was dying. But he didn’t want to tell the world about it because he had only a few productive hours a day and he wanted to finish his last opera.

It’s like that with composers. You feel the urge to compose. You don’t want to be interrupted. You want to write before it disappears.

We live less than 1 km apart — a mere 12 minute walk from my house to Henk’s houseboat — which translates to a 2 minute cycle ride. Mari-anne’s house is even closer. In this radius, there are other musicians. There’s no excuse not to get together. But we work for ourselves, and time to create music is precious.

What do you do, if you know someone is dying? I struggled with this. Knowing he didn’t want to be disturbed and that I was leaving shortly, I wanted to tell others before it was too late. But even if I told others, like Mari-anne, what were they to do?

The answer came too early.

This morning I received several e-mails that Henk Alkema had passed away on the same Thursday 4th August 2011.

Henk Alkema conducted "Culture Shock!" at Utrecht Conservatory, 2 June 2008

Henk Alkema conducted "Culture Shock!" at Utrecht Conservatory, 2 June 2008 Photo: F. vd Meer

Gistermiddag is Henk Alkema tot ons groot verdriet overleden. Ik stuur je hierbij een pdf van de rouwkaart en een persbericht. Ik vraag je namens Anna Schweizer of je zo lief wilt zijn dit bericht op grote schaal te verspreiden. Het is vakantietijd dus veel mensen – studenten en docenten – zullen dit bericht missen. Misschien heb je zelfs in je oude emails een groepsmail van of voor leerlingen, die we kunnen gebruiken. En misschien wil je ook iets zeggen bij de herdenking. Dat zouden wij allemaal heel fijn vinden.

Edwin Rutten en ik zijn goede vrienden en regelen de begrafenis met Anne. vandaar dat ik je dit bericht stuur.

hartelijke groet
Annett Andriesen-Rutten

Thursday, 4th of August, our great friend and teacher Henk Alkema passed away. He has been ill for some time, but no one was prepared for him to leave us this soon. This Tuesday his funeral will be held. He’ll be buried on Soestbergen, in Utrecht.

Sunday 7th August 2011 from 13:00 to 14:00
a small gathering to pay condolences to the family at the rouwcentrum in Yarden at Floridadreef 9, Utrecht.

Tuesday 9th August 2011 from 12 noon
Memorial service: (a larger gathering than the previous) at the Koetshuis van Boerderij Mereveld at Mereveldseweg 9, Utrecht. From there (around 13:30), we will proceed to his final resting place at the Soestbergen, Gansstraat 152, Utrecht. Parking is limited thus preferrable to park at Kovelswade, Koningsweg 49 where a gathering with the family will take place after the funeral.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under communication, composer, personality

9 responses to “Henk Alkema, composer, conductor, pianist, teacher

  1. Pingback: Remembering Henk Alkema | Concert Blog

  2. Pingback: Reverse engineering: piano duet to piano solo of Henk Alkema | Concert Blog

  3. Voor mij was Henk Alkema een van de meest kleurrijke personen op het Conservatorium, we hebben hem gemist en zullen hem nu nog meer missen.

  4. Pingback: Relationship of teacher and student in music | Concert Blog

  5. Pingback: Closure and peace | Concert Blog

  6. Pingback: First international Alkema composition competition | Concert Blog

  7. BOT

    I didn’t now Henk all that well at least not in terms of time spent together. However, I thought of him as a mentor and a kindred-spirit in many ways.
    We were two left-handed, Scorpio musicians, and I have a connection to Friesland through my paternal grandfather, and I think those connections were meaningful to him.
    Henk and I recorded some ‘free’ improvisation in Montana, he on piano, I on drumset. Nothing came of it, and we didn’t repeat the experience, but it was a wonderful thing for me and I will always be grateful to him for making it happen.
    So I will miss him very much. I have never met another like him.
    I would dearly love to hear some of his music. Can someone guide to a source of some recordings?

  8. Pingback: The cost of performing and producing your own concert | Anne Ku

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s