(photo: © Saïda Willekens)
Jan Hendrik Van Damme (1965 °Ekeren, Belgium, Europe) was born as the youngest child of five in an artistic family. His father is a graphic artist who is known in the world of collectors of exlibris and graphics for his masterly woodcuts and copper engravings. His mother is a calligraphist who spreads her art with fire. The couple encourages its children to discover their passion. At the age of six, Jan Hendrik finds that enthusiasm in the music initiation lessons. Around his twelfth he discoveres that his driving force is not so much playing music, but creating, imagining, writing music.
After studying at the conservatory – composition, with Luc Van hove - he starts a career in music education. There he writes a large amount of music for children. Children's songs, music theater, musicals…
In the margins of all this, it is hard to find some time for writing choral music, including for his own vocal quartet “Luna”.
When he becomes director of an art academy in 2009, he finally moves his field to where his heart really lies: chamber music and orchestral music. In the past ten years, a number of concertos (for clarinet, violin, two cellos and recently for bassoon) have been created, besides work for choir, tenor and orchestra, piano and string orchestra, and a modest number of chamber music works, including three string quartets based on paintings from the twentieth century.
Due to the friendship with saxophone player Kurt Bertels, the saxophone occupies an important place in his recent compositions. A work for tenor saxophone and soundfile, a saxophone quartet and the "Sonate Estivale à la mémoire d'Henri Dutilleux" for violin, alto saxophone and piano are the result.
In the near future Jan Hendrik will work on his fourth string quartet – an electric one - a second wind quintet and a piece for clarinet-quintet and a large scale orchestral piece “Il Tempio delle Passioni Umane”.
Jan Hendrik Van Damme writes tonal music, but explores it’s boundaries. His music is melodic and narrative. He tries to give his compositions a solid architecture and strives to say a lot with little musical material. He wants to write music that directly appeals, but that also attracts the listener and takes him along into a surprising musical story. Therefor his overall attractive music is being punctuated with all kinds of achievements of contemporary musical composition: clusters, extended instrumental techniques, freshly made scales, serial composition, electronics, etcetera.