In 1953 Mrs Westerman took the initiative to set up an ensemble along the lines of the Westerkerkkoor in Amsterdam. She was supported by the singing teacher Coby Riemersma, so that the new choir in Haarlem for a large part of her students came to exist. Robert George, at that time organist of the city of Haarlem, was chosen as a conductor. He also pulled together the orchestra. This led to the establishment of the Haarlems Bach Ensemble (= HBE) on January 29, 1956. During the first years of its existence the HBE participated in worship of the Hervormde kerk and later was also involved in the vespers services. Subsequently, the HBE also performed public concerts in and around Haarlem.
The HBE performs under the title “Bach in de Binnenstad” (Bach in the City) for more than ten years now and for a wide audience five performances per year, on Saturday afternoons in the Mennonite Church at the Frank Street in Haarlem. These are events in atmosphere and tradition in which J.S. Bach cantatas, but also works of his contemporaries, are performed. For some time the ensemble has played with special Baroque instruments which, partly due to the inspiring leadership of conductor Rolf Buijs, have contributed to his or her own sound and recognisable quality of HBE.