Born: April 5, 1959 - Bilzen, Limburg, Belgium
Died: July 15, 2014 - Tildonk, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
The Belgian bass, Dirk Snellings, appeared to be contaminated with the indestructible music virus, already at a very young age. During his secondary school days, he experienced unlimited possibilities to live music in the schools music workshop and was taught to play in group a variety of (old) wind and string instruments (recorder, crumhorn, pommer, viol, harpsichord, …) Out of this broad choice of instruments gradually grew his passion for the viola da gamba, taking the Baroque repertoire as working field. The hand making of these instruments captivated his interest for many hours in this period. He completed his higher education at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven at which he graduated in Music and followed courses in Anthropology (1978-1982).
Besides the viola da gamba, Dirk Snellings discovered the new expressive methods of singing first as bass in some well known choirs (Currende, Collegium Vocale…), later as a student of singing with Lucienne Van Deyck. She taught him in a passionate and unique way how to master his vocal instrument. A period of intense studying at the Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music in Antwerp (1984-1987) resulted in obtaining the First Prize summa cum laude. In this way, the repertoire of old music was extended to contemporary compositions.
Exactly in this field of tension between tradition and innovation, Dirk Snellings always discovered new challenges to look for the specific characteristics of each genre or style period and to find the matching vocal approach accordingly.
Dirk Snellings was co-producer of Musica Antiqua at Radio Klara from from 1989 to 1992. As the Artistic Director of the Capilla Flamenca, founded in 1990, and together with Dr. Eugeen Schreurs (Alamire Foundation University of Leuven), he specialised in the famous music of the Flemish polyphonists, and with particular interest for the Burgundy composers.
In his attempts at structurally underpinning these 'innovating' insights in vocal performing practise and at making them known to the public, he was supported by Herman Baeten, the inspirer of Musica, the Flemish service centre for Music in Peer.
As a soloist Dirk Snellings could look back upon a rich concert practice in Belgium as well as abroad (Japan, USA, Poland, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria…), where especially Baroque compositions, J.S. Bach in particular, are performed. This appears from numerous recordings for radio and television, as well as LP and CD recordings.
Dirk Snellings also lectured as a singer and musicologist at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven (since September 1988) and at the Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music in Antwerp besides giving several Master Courses. In this way he was given the opportunity to pass on his experiences as 'searching singer' to a new generation of promising musicians.