InConcert Sierra hires Assistant Artistic Director Toon Vandevorst

InConcert Sierra has hired Toon Vandevorst — an accomplished pianist, composer and singer who has studied with America’s most eminent musicians — as its Assistant Artistic Director, Sierra FoodWineArt magazine has learned.

The new position is a sign of InConcert Sierra’s stellar growth, and it will allow Artistic Director Ken Hardin to focus even more attention on the strategic growth and programming of the popular performing-arts nonprofit, along with Executive Director Julie Hardin. InConcert Sierra has been expanding its boundaries in recent years by attracting world-class talent, the latest being Emanuel Ax, one of the best classical pianists of the 21st century, in January 2014, to perform in Grass Valley.

Toon (pronounced “Tone”) Vandevorst was born and raised in the Netherlands and now lives in Nevada City. He studies raga with and is assistant to legendary composer Terry Riley, and he studies conducting with and is assistant to Hardin.

Vandevorst teaches his own workshop for singer-songwriters and, together with composer Mark Vance, teaches the Music in the Mountains’ Young Composers Project. He is a rehearsal pianist for the Sierra Master Chorale and the Bear River High School Choirs and continues to sing with the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale in the Bay Area when possible. He teaches a music class at Forest Charter, where his daughters go to school.

In the Bay Area, he has sung with Pacific Collegium, Volti and the San Francisco Symphony chorus, among others. Volti also commissioned a work from him, Phoenix Songs, a setting of three short poems by his wife, Alicia Vandevorst. In the Netherlands he has sung with the Netherlands Bach Society, the ASKO chamber choir and many others.

As a pianist, he has performed with the Percussion Group The Hague, and has played the works of many contemporary composers, including Theo Loevendie and Louis Andriessen.

Some works by composers of his own generation were written especially for him. In the Netherlands, the United States and elsewhere, his own works have been performed as well, most notably a prize-winning orchestral piece, a mass and a chamber opera. However, his most widely performed piece is The Best Part of Waking Up, for alto saxophone and amplified coffee maker.

Toon studied piano with Else Krijgsman, Geoffrey Madge and Rian de Waal at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and composition with Klaas de Vries at the Rotterdam Conservatory. After finishing his Masters Degree, he went on to study voice privately with Ronald Klekamp, Jill Feldman, Linda Noble, and others.

He has been a rehearsal pianist for many groups and programs, including the Royal Opera Academy in The Hague and the California All State Jazz Honor Choir directed by Darmon Meader.

Incidentally, while a visiting professor at the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, eminent composer John Cage taught him how to eat with chopsticks, Toon says with a sense of humor.

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