The current conductor of the Pretoria Bach Choir
Gerben Grooten, born in the Netherlands August 1970. From an early age he has been involved in music. Starting traveling with orchestras from the age of 14, was admitted to the conservatory in Rotterdam at age 16 and working as a professional player in orchestras, performing, touring and recording in Europe, Africa, Canada and the USA. From studying with many great conductors like Valery Gergiev, Arie van Beek, Claudio Abbado and performers like Robert van Sice and Randy Max, he obtained his Masters' Degrees in Classical Orchestral Percussion and Choir and Orchestra Conducting. Other instruments he plays include piano and cello. In the last 20 years he has conducted various kinds of orchestras, choirs and contemporary ensembles in a wide range of musical styles. Gerben’s heart has always been in music education and when he was 25 he became the deputy director and project coordinator at a creative arts institution of 2000 students where he also taught classical percussion and was the orchestra and choir conductor. Ever since he has been working with many ensembles, choir and orchestras as a conductor and with organizations and universities around the world giving workshops, team-building and leadership seminars in the areas of life-skill and arts management.
In January 2005, he and his wife, Mieke, came to South Africa to be involved in music and art education and is currently the creative director for the Hatfield Art Centre in Pretoria, consisting out of two music schools, a full-time academy, a music publishing house and a record company. His uniquely developed SA curriculum has been established in academies in four continents. Also are he and his wife heading up the music ministry at Hatfield Christian Church with over 100 musicians, singers and dancers.
In South Africa, Gerben has been lecturing conducting at the university of Pretoria since 2009 and conducts and plays regularly with musical & tv productions and professional orchestras such as Freestate Symphony Orchestra, Unisa Foundation Symphony Orchestra, Cape Festival Opera, Eastern Cape Philharmonic, Gauteng Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic and Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. The last 5 years he has regularly conducted the South African National Youth Orchestras. He is a respected adjudicator for art schools and cultural festivals and is excited about the incredible amount of young talent in this country. Recently he returned to his first love and started his own trio playing vibraphone and marimba.
He is presently the principal conductor for the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra, SA New Music Ensemble and the Pretoria Bach choir. Although, in the last two years, Gerben has once again found himself in demand internationally as a conductor, he is certain of his calling in SA. He loves the people, the potential and entrepreneurial opportunities of the country