Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good Friday seems the right day to attend St. John's Passion. I was invited to come to the rehearsal of J.S. Bach's oratorium at Westerkerk in order to make sketches of the musicians, choir and solo singers. The conductor was singing parts of the tenor who did not arrived yet. Soon I was drawing in the flow of this music and felt inspired by the sounds and images around me. I lost my sense of time.

Later I noticed that more spectators were attending the rehearsal. I saw an old lady with a fur coat sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the church. Two girls, probably granddaughters, were constantly assisting her with things like covering her knees with blanket, bringing her coffee, etc. She was enjoyed the music and at certain part she was quietly singing along. During the break someone said : That's Aafje". "Aafje? "Aafje Heynis" I could not believe my ears. The famous singer from the 50's and 60's. I did not realize that she still lives. She had a unique voice a warm pure alto. I never heard a more beautiful rendition of "Bist du bei mir". I could recognize her face clearly which i knew so well from the cd covers. Though her hair was grey and her skin white, her face with pale blue eyes and strong cheeks bones was basically the same. From a distance I quickly made a portrait sketch of her and showed them. I thanked for her music Her assistants repeated my words to her, trying to reach her through the fog of her mind. Somehow I felt a deep respect for her.

In the Westerkerk I am always aware of its history : the burial place of Rembrandt and close to Anne Frank's house. Last year the church has renovated. When the renovation was ready and the covers were removed the gold of the tower appeared to have changed into blue. The architect based this change on historical evidence: in a certain period the colors were like this. Who am I to deny history, but I regret that the golden crown was stolen from Amsterdam. With the blue top on the church looks like a fancy building from Disneyland. Tourists will like it. I made this watercolor long time ago. It was on a chilly day in October that I was painting the cityscape with the tower and the golden autumn colors. These were the golden days of Westerkerk.