Bas Jan Ader

The framed song A Life of an Ocean Wave by Bas Jan Ader was part of the mini-exhibition of Ahmet Ögüt’s work which included his Guppie 13 floating on the river Dommel. Just having stopped her involvement as the director of a women’s shanty choir, Willy de Rooij was inspired by this song to start a Museum choir made up of volunteers. Its aim is to sing about the art in the museum. This was the choir's very first project.

Roland Schimmel

According to Roland Schimmel, his three-dimensional installation The Innocent Body was inspired by the apse – the chancel in a church. His ethereal painting of afterimages combined with the remarkable acoustics inspired us in turn to sing an old round from the monastery of Monserrat, creating an almost spiritual experience in this symbiosis of image and sound. 


When she was presented with the Theodora Niemeijer prize, Sachi told of her grandmother  who, in her nineties, still runs her shop to prolong her interaction with the neighbourhood. Sachi’s installation The Fall, transition into the better in Het Oog (The Eye) is a meeting place with at its center a wooden structure from which the neighbours’ tree can be seen. The song Sakura sings of spring in Japan with cherry trees blossoming everywhere.

Afghanistan Project

Shafiq, one of our guards and project leader of the Afghan Art Awards, asked us to sing a few Afghan anthems to mark the opening of the Afghanistan exhibition. Willy de Rooij wrote sheet music for songs in two languages – Pashtun and Dari. The enthusiasm with which the Afghan guests joined in was heartwarming. 

Ta lendab mesipuu poole

Ta lendab mesipuu poole is a famous Estonian song about the flight of bees and their return to the hive, a parable of freedom and fatherland. This song was sung during the Singing Revolution, when  a human chain was formed on August 23rd 1989 between the capitals of the Baltic States. The chain, made by two million people,  measured 600 kilometres. We thought this would be a fitting song for Charles Esche’s policy of combining social engagement with an orientation on Eastern European developments in art.

Call for Art

In 2011 Doreen Westphal’s idea “Ring the Bells for Art” was acquired with support from Stichting Doen. Just as the church rings the bells and the imam calls the faithful to prayer from the mosque’s minaret, Doreen’s Call for Art is heard from the tower of the Van Abbe museum. Doreen has asked Willy de Rooij to set the “tower sound” to music. The Call is a choral song slowly broadening out and then contracting again, spreading horizontally. The sound first gains volume, becoming full and strong before slowly fading away.