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Welcome here on the about page !

My name is Wim Winters, I am a husband, father and musician, living in the North of Belgium. The days are filled with music, writing, managing some organ- (the instrument!) related projects. And, if weather allows, mowing our 400 square meter of grass sitting on my riding mower.

My family is what drives me to get the best out of me every day. Time with my beautiful wife Anja and my two amazing girls, are the best moments of life.

Next to playing Bach maybe :-). Or Mozart. Or Beethoven. Or...

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MY STORY

My story until today, 1 December 2016. Is it relevant? Hard to judge by myself.

Three years ago, I would have answered: no, why?

But today, almost three years of enjoying the interaction with what one would call a growing community, I might compress my lips, knod my head slightly and answer with: maybe, who knows? In the virtual world of YouTube and Facebook, I've had the privilege, to meet many who seem to recognize details, elements, sprankels of what I did, played, wrote, answered. How heartwarming those words of thank I received in return... So yes, who knows?

My life, that is for sure, never followed an even path. Not intentionally, it just happened. So if you feel the same about your life, it might make sense to share some details about it.

 


Let me give you a few dates that seem to be symbolic for me.


 

1972, 6 March

My mother gave birth to me after almost a full day of hard 'work'. I am told that I was in good health, but rather tall with 61 centimeter. That is the year of the Watergate scandal, but I guess that that was not of my concern at the time.

 

1983, December 24th, Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve! After following a complicated route through the big curtain shop my mother had at the time, I was to discover an electrical organ. I had asked for it, don't remember why, and on the picture my father took after it was brought in our living room, you still see my read eyes from crying. Let's not become melodramatic here, but it felt as a big deal back then. Just in time to start. All light music, James Last en c°. But after five months of lessons, my beautiful organ was out of function, and my lovely teacher adviced my father to take me to a 'serious' teacher. I owe everything to that women, of which I even have forgotten the name. I only remember her classroom, above the store where the organ was bought. Three organs, three students, two of them with headphones. I still can feel the heavy weight of them. Today I realise that they must have been of the 'closed' type. It felt claustrophobic.

 

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1986, April 5th:

At that day, my professional 'career' took off. The only one who was not aware of that important fact, was me. What happened? Well, I won a rather important competition for amateurs. Being the youngest candidate ever, it seemed to be quite an event. Three roundes, with music from the 17th to the 20th century. My first experience with a 'real' mechanical organ, recording on national radio, etc. And, more important, four teachers who invited me to come to their organ class on my 18th. Pretty good timing to ask at a 14th year old kid that hardly knew what classical music was, let alone organ music. Jacques van Oortmerssen was one of them, and it turned out to be one of the best choices of my life.

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1986, April 5th:

At that day, my professional 'career' took off. The only one who was not aware of that important fact, was me. What happened? Well, I won a rather important competition for amateurs. Being the youngest candidate ever, it seemed to be quite an event. Three roundes, with music from the 17th to the 20th century. My first experience with a 'real' mechanical organ, recording on national radio, etc. And, more important, four teachers who invited me to come to their organ class on my 18th. Pretty good timing to ask at a 14th year old kid that hardly knew what classical music was, let alone organ music. Jacques van Oortmerssen was one of them, and it turned out to be one of the best choices of my life.

1990, 1 September:

I finish college (Latin-Maths) and started my professional education at Amsterdam, Conservatory (conservatoire) in the class of Jacques van Oortmerssen. In 1992, I would upgrade my second instrument (piano) as a second main instrument. Two years with the wonderful teacher Jan Huizing, the rest of the course in the class of the briljant player Willem Brons.

1998, May:

I played my last exam (piano), and officially finished all I had started in Amsterdam. Of course I participated at some competitions:

1994: Leiden, student organ competition, 1st price both baroque and romantic music

1997: Brugge, Musica Antique, 3d price, and Price of "Radio 3"

1998: Maastricht, L'Europe et l'orgue, 3d price

1999, Alkmaar, Schitger organ competition, 3d price

 


After conservatory


 

Ok, and then my journey started. Age 26, 8 years of studies, I came home in my little village, back into the daily life of my parents, who at the time ran a succesful business in... food. A supermarket with 17 coworkers. All female, and some of them, hmm, not too old for a 26 year boy who only experienced the world of music until then. I know what you think... 26? Really??

Yes.

It was not the reason that I decided to start to work in my parents business. Well, not the only one. No, seriously, the real reason was someting else. I needed to come down to earth again. I felt really useless.

Downgrading from the mecca of organs (as the Netherlands are) to where I live, being smashed out the small, protected community that a conservatory is, I needed a renewed connection to a real world.

At the time, there was no place for me in the education sector. I tried, but as I say, there simply was no place. And frankly, teaching as a music teacher was not my cup of tea. So, a few months after my 3d price in Maastricht, I just walked into the supermarket's storage place one day, and started to participate. My parents looked up suprised, just a minute, but then continued to work.

Soon, I would be the responsible for all that has to do with yogurt, butter, apples and cauliflower. Surprised? I can imagine that. Maybe even more so if I tell you that that one year -the time that I worked there- was one of the best of my life. The work was so different from studying music, I worked really hard, but there was no such stress that is so typical musician-like, the stress of always striving towards that goal that is hidden around the corner. That felt as a relief.

A betrayel as well... to my music, but more, to that little voice deep inside me, telling me constantly that I should not look for the easy life, but should challenge myself in what I had chosen to do: art, music, ...

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1998, November 28th:

Yes, you guessed it, Anja worked for my parents. And long story short, at this date, we found a small house that we could not afford, but at the same time, would give us an answer to the need for freedom. We both were 28 at the time, so time was right. We would head for some very difficult years to come. I tell you more on that.

2001, 9/11.

Indirect, that dramatical date initated a really rough period on our lives, too. Nothing to be compared to that disaster of course, but anyway. Earlier that year, my father got bad news. His heart could not stand the hard work and long days any more, and litteraly in five minutes, my parents decided to sell all of their business at once. I had just finished a project for the Flemish government the year before. Being a project manager that leaded a commission, had openened my mind to new perspectives, but closed many doors as well. I was way too young to understand that being honest does not necessarily means 'saying everything as you think it is', and that attitude had seriously impacted my position or possibilities, if I had any at all.


From 1999 onwards, certainly after the Schnitger competition, I had picked up music again very seriously, resulting in a real professional recording, not on organ, but on my Erard piano. In that time, I was a real Chopin addict. But one that didn't earn that much money, though. But we didn't need much.

That style of living was rather easy, with parents that were not rich, but had noting short. We didn't ask for anything, but knew that if things went wrong, ... you know what I mean.

Anja still worked at the supermarket, and would continue to do so, for the new owners.

But it turned out differently.

The new owner showed a different face after the sell, and Anja was fired in the first weeks. And then the Twin Towers. That event had a dramatically impact on our family finance.

 


And by that fact, our 'backup', so to say, vanished as well. It felt weird at the time.

Anja took up really serious studies again, and I...? I struggled to find my place in society so to say. I tried all kinds of things, but none of them really paid off. I lost my temporarily teaching job because of the relation ship of a new, young director with his nephew, and on top of that, we got the message that the house in which we lived, would be sold. So we had to move.

Early 2002, we were financially at the bottom. I remember the relief every time the credit card was accepted, but things like going to the movies were kind of not done at the time. I kind of desperately looked for other jobs, from copywriter to even private detective... really. But it didn't work.

Besides that... we were very happy.

2003-2008: climbing our way up.

Being at the bottom has its advantages as well. Easy to write, several years later. But it's true.

With nothing to lose, nothing to fear. Perfect starting position!

Since early 2000, I dreamt of a significant organ project here in Belgium. I really dived into that project, that long time seemed to remain a unreachable dream. Until in February 22, 2003, I got a positive respons from a very influential person here in Belgium, willing to accept the presidency of an organisation that would be established to built that organ! It was not my work only, not by far, but it opened perspectives!

! It would lead to much work (very much), unpaid the first three years. No income for much work was not easy for me at the time, but I kept going for it, and in 2006, I would officially become Project Leader of the Contius Foundation. Rough years enough in that project that still is a main part of my daily professional life (in 2016, so 16 years later!)

In the meantime, Anja finished here fiscal studies and started in 2007 as accountant. The horizon cleared up.

And in the meantime, 2005, June 14th: That is an important date! Birth of our first daughter, Sofie.

And in the meantime, 2005, June 14th: That is an important date! Birth of our first daughter, Sofie.

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New instrument: The Clavichord came into my life

2008, October 15th: Finally.

That day, I telephoned Joris Potvlieghe with an urgent request. I had played one of his instruments the day before, at his workshop. I visited him for the first time ever, part of my job within the Contius Project. Few months earlier, I recorded my first 'official' CD, on organ. That would be released by a new and dynamic label, Paraty, in Paris. But, as with CD's nowadays, good reviews, perfect distribution, no success. But at that recording session, I listened to the advice of the recording engineer, a good friend, who gave the advice to try one of Potvlieghes clavichords, when I would pay him a visit. A niche market. Maybe ugly word for such a beautiful instrument, but why not give it a try?

That first couple of notes on a clavichord. It opened a new world. And the next day, I asked him to built one for me. Not within two years. Now.

And accidentally, there was time available to do that. A customer for which Joris already started a new instrument, pulled off. And that fresh instrument -only part of the outer structure was ready- was excactly what I was looking for.

November 2009, I gave the first official concert in Sint-Truiden. And since then played about 100 concerts and recorded more then 100 YouTube recordings on it.

 

Video Series: My Story!