Jef Smits (°Antwerp,1970) studied at the Academy of Music in Antwerp where he obtained 9 diplomas. In 1991 he was awarded the Special Prize for Piano accompaniment at the National Gemeentekrediet Contest, as well as the Radio-3 Prize at the International Orpheus Contest for Contemporary Music (together with Anja Van Dijck).
At the Flanders Opera he conducted Let¹s make an Opera (Britten), De Toverfluit, an adaptation of Mozart's Magic Flute for children and the 11th July concert 2002 in Antwerp.
At the Antwerp Conservatory he conducted the chamber operas La Serva Padrona (Pergolesi), Hin und Zurück (Hindemith), De Bankroet-Jazz (based on P. van Ostayen) and De Ballade van de Stratemaaier (van Damme); for Muziektheater Transpartant he conducted Le Pauvre Matelot (Milhaud) and he was musical director for Die Winterreise (Schubert) and La Voix Humaine (Poulenc).
Jef Smits also conducted musicals such as Cats, The Wizzard of Oz and Het meisje van Zaventem. At the Flanders Opera he has been chorus director for the opera productions of Tristan und Isolde, Madame Butterfly and Pelléas et Mélisande and for concert music by Ravel and Holst. He has been assistant to a.o. the conductors Dmitri Jurowski, Massimo Zanetti, Silvio Varviso, Yannis Pouspourikas, Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, Ivan Törzs, Friedemann Layer, Marc Piollet, Bàlàzs Kocsàr and Roy Goodman. In 2006 he took over the baton from the sick Silvio Varviso for 8 performances of Tosca.
He was a member of the chorus and the orchestra as well as a repetiteur.
Between 1993 and 1997 he directed the ‘Fine Fleur’ chorus that performed at The Night of the Proms, The Night of Entertainment, Jesus Christ Superstar. With his own orchestra, ‘De Muziekcompanie’, he accompanied Ann De Winne on a CD with musical and film music.
Jef Smits has also worked as a pianist for orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, the (former) BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra, Il Novecento, Champ d’Action and Collegium Vocale (with Philippe Herreweghe, Grant Llewellyn, Günter Neuhold, Muhai Tang, Maxim Sjostakovitsj, Jansug Kachidze, Andreï Boreyko, James Judd, Michael Morgan, Silveer Van den Broeck, Jan Caeyers, Robert Groslot, Koen Kessels).
He has formed a piano duo with Anja Van Dijck, with whom he made recordings for Radio 3 and Deutschlandfunk, and performed at the Flanders Opera, deSingel, the Voorkempen Festival and the Festival for Contemporary Music in Kiel.
Jef Smits trained as a singer with Frans De Swert, and has been extending his training under Robert Alderson since 1999. He has performed as a tenor soloist in masses (including the Krönungmesse by Mozart), oratorios (including Händel’s Messiah) and cantatas, and was a member of the Belgian Vocal Collective for recordings on radio, TV and CD (La Bohème, Simon Boccanegra and Das Schloß).
Jef Smits also coached at the opera department of the Antwerp Conservatory and at Flanders Opera Studio. He still does the latter as a guest coach.
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