Report Opening symposium by European EVTA president Norma Enns



Opening Symposium of EVTA-Belgium, Leuven, Belgium, May 5


With a sense of excitement, Evta-Be embarked on its first Symposium May 5 in Leuven. Although only registered on February 1, it has attracted interest very quickly and roughly 60 – 70 members and interested persons came for this first afternoon session.

The programme opened with a welcome from Lieve Jansen, President of Evta-Be.  She introduced the executive consisting of Sarah Algoet, Vice-President, Jurgen Vollens, Secretary-Treasurer, Wivine Decoster, chairperson of the advisory board and Peter Rouffaer, representative for the professional speech voice.  Evta-Be has been conceived as an organization with a strong orientation to inter-disciplinary networking of colleagues from all voice-related disciplines.   Membership and the advisory board of Evta-Be consist of singing and speech coaches and teachers of all kinds, choral conductors, medical and voice research specialists. Lieve Jansen continued with a brief summary of the process of establishing the association.  For her, meeting Sarah Algoet, now Vice-President, at the EVTA Symposium in Aix-en-Provence was the final step in a longer process. The time finally seemed right, and the quick development of interest and membership in Evta-Be proves them right.

The further programme for this first symposium consisted of a series of short lectures from various voice-related disciplines.  My lecture was first and included an introduction to EVTA and its history since 1988, as well as a summary of the current project content to date. Once more, the information was received with great interest and the hand-outs will be placed on the members’ section of their website.  This was followed by presentations on

·        laryngeal anatomy and physiology by  Prof. Felix De Jong,

·        research projects in francophone Belgium by Dr. Peter Muller

·        holistic approach to posture and breathing by chiropractor Frederic Rogiers,

·        stress on stage by psychologist, Prof. Koen Korevaar

·        research on girl’s vocal development by Prof. Wivine Decoster

·        professional speaking voice by actor and speech coach Peter Rouffaer

In addition, the afternoon was enriched by a variety of vocal contributions: a Tuva overtone singer and an Indian “natural voice” singer, a countertenor singing “Music for a while” by Purcell and a soprano singing Rosina’s Aria “Una voce poco fa”, a rock singer with “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon and an actor speaking Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65.

The Evta-Be executive decided to deal with the 3-fold language problem by having the Symposium in English.  After the long and intensive afternoon, many participants were tired, but the atmosphere at the reception was upbeat and I repeatedly heard comments like “This is what we have needed for a long time!”  The executive plans to move the Symposiums to various parts of the country, the next one being in Namur in the francophone part of Belgium on October 30. This session will concentrate on breathing and posture for singers and speakers.

As I observed and interacted with those present during this momentous afternoon I sensed that this association has a special affinity to a holistic approach to developing good singing and speaking voices. Its uniqueness probably lies in the diversity of related professions working together in establishing the association in a way I am not aware of in other European associations.  Evta-Belgium is off to an excellent start and we look forward to their contributions to a future EVTA!  Thank you to Evta-Belgium for the invitation to join your for this special day.

Leuven, May 5, 2012
Prof. Norma Enns
European Voice Teachers Association