Jo Vincent was the successor of Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius. Both singers represented a Dutch vocal style characterized by “the instrumental, the extra-personal, the purified sound”. (Vincent, Mémoires) Vincent is remembered as an oratorio singer, but she also gave countless lieder recitals and performed in the Netherlands and abroad as a concert ...
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Biography Jo Vincent
Jo Vincent was the successor of Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius. Both singers represented a Dutch vocal style characterized by “the instrumental, the extra-personal, the purified sound”. (Vincent, Mémoires) Vincent is remembered as an oratorio singer, but she also gave countless lieder recitals and performed in the Netherlands and abroad as a concert singer. For a number of years, she would make a concert tour each September with Anthon van der Horst, a tradition of Aaltje Noordewier's that she continued. Vincent was one of the best-loved singers in the Netherlands: “Her simple delivery, extraverted nature, and engaging presence made her loved among the general public”. (Biographisch Woordenboek van Nederland, 2008)
Johanna Maria Vincent, daughter of the well-known Amsterdam carillonneur Jacob Vincent, is born on March 6, 1898. By age 5 she has already decided what she wants to do with her life: “I want to be a singer”. At age 9 she begins taking lessons from the children's choir class teacher, Catharina van Rennes. At 16, while studying to become a singing teacher, she learns diction, vocalises and the classical repertoire from Wilhelmina de Veer-de Lange.
Vincent passes the singing-teacher exam in The Hague cum laude. As a student, she has lessons with Cornélie van Zanten, a specialist in vocal technique problems, and she later repeatedly returns to Van Zanten for more training. Van Zanten's motto, “It's all brain work”, stays with her.
Vincent begins her career singing in a country inn in Assendelft. The following day the Assendelfter Courant reports: “What we heard from this lady was, in a word, exquisite”. She soon becomes a star in the Zaanstreek region.
1923 - 1929
Vincent sings the soprano part in Bach's 'St Matthew Passion' for the first time at the Lutheran Church in Amsterdam. She will sing it more than 500 times during her career. In 1925 she makes her debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. In a performance conducted by Willem Mengelberg, she performs four lieder by Gerard von Brücken Fock and is rewarded with an overwhelming applause. On the invitation of Pierre Monteux, she sings the part of Marguérite in Hector Berlioz's 'La Damnation de Faust'.
When Aaltje Noordewier retires from performing, Vincent takes over her famed church concerts. With the pianist/organist Anthon van der Horst and the Jo Vincent Quartet (with Theodora Versteegh, contralto; Evert Miedema, tenor; and Willem Ravelli, baritone), she travels throughout the Netherlands in the autumn performing mostly religious songs in churches. Vincent's faith is very important to her. Though she was raised in a Protestant environment, she later converted to Roman Catholicism.
1932 - 1934
Vincent sings in performances of the 'St Matthew Passion' and Gustav Mahler's 'Eighth Symphony' conducted by Willem Mengelberg. She continues to sing under Mengelberg's direction almost every season, for example in a performance of Mahler's 'Fourth Symphony' in Vienna in 1934. With annual performances of the 'St Matthew Passion' in Naarden and Amsterdam, she continues to follow in Noordewier's footsteps. She also gives frequent lieder recitals with the pianist Betsy Rijkens-Culp.
1936 - 1939
Vincent experiences one of the high points of her career performing Beethoven's 'Missa Solemnis' in Vienna under the conductor Arturo Toscanini. Only once in her life does she perform in an opera -- in 1939 she sings the role of the La Contessa in Mozart's 'La Nozze di Figaro' in Scheveningen.
1940 - 1945
During World War II she stops performing in public in protest of the Nazi's establishment of the Reichskulturkammer. Instead, she gives illegal concerts in private circles. Often, she is paid in household provisions. On June 9 and 10, 1945, she performs at 'Vrije Klanken' [Free Sounds], the first large-scale concert in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw after the Liberation of the Netherlands.
After the war, Vincent takes singing lessons with the soprano Ruth Horna. She sings her last 'St Matthew Passion' in Naarden.
Vincent sings her last 'St Matthew Passion' in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. During an extended concert tour from September to December, she says farewell to Dutch audiences. At the pinnacle of her singing career, she leaves the concert stage for good: “I have always thanked Our Dear Lord that I could be a singer, and I was always aware that my voice was a gift from Him, a gift that I had to carefully preserve, and in my entire life I never neglected to pray before a concert. But now, how thankful I am now that I can simply live, like other people, with large and small worries of course, such as we all have, but without the enormous tensions, always being bound by commitments, the practice sessions every morning, the fear of indisposition”. (Vincent, Mémoires)
1955 - 1956
Vincent's memoirs are published under the title 'Zingend door het leven' [Singing through Life]. Its appearance marks the definitive conclusion of her life as a performer. After, she declines all interviews because she wants to live in the present instead of the past. In 1956 she becomes a music school singing teacher.
Jo Vincent dies on November 28 in southern France, where she has lived since 1971.
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