The choir - now superfluous in its old community - went in search of a new community and found a welcome
in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in the Kalverstraat in the center of Amsterdam - a very traditional
community with little sympathy for many of the new-fangled ideas being generated by Vatican II.
From 1967-1978 the Schola Cantorum Amsterdam (as it became known) sang the weekly mass, although,
with the passing of the years some friction developed as not all priests were able or willing to sing the
It should also be noted that the steadfast refusal of the choir members at that time to wear choir robes or
other suitable choral dress - they sang in their jeans, street and hippy attire - wasn't conducive to a
harmonious atmosphere either. The Schola was a mixed bag of left wing radicals, reactionaries and others with
a single bonding passion - singing Gregorian chant. And they were led by a man - Wim van Gerven - with a total
devotion to preserving Gregorian chant in its proper liturgical context.
The Schola packed their Antiphonaries and Graduals and moved to a Franciscan community church, St. Anthony of
Padua, on the outside edge of the Jordaan neighbourhood - still in an old part of Amsterdam but definitely
From that time on the Schola chose to devote itself to singing the offices - particularly
vespers and, on major feast days, matins. No more headaches and arguments with uncooperative priests with
little sympathy for the Latin rite. The Schola now established itself as an independent entity that would
determine its own course.
After a short stay with the Franciscans (1978-1981) the Schola moved to a more central location on the
Prinsengracht - the St. Willibrord-within-the-walls, a church slated for closure and demolition but squatted
by a small but active community determined to rescue the 19th century neoclassical building.
The Schola was welcome as it was able to give the building a liturgical purpose with its weekly vesper
service and occasional matins and compline services. Also welcome was the Schola's ability to pay a modest
rent to help in the church's upkeep.
Schola entered a very fruitful musical period during its stay on the
For several years running it maintained a rigorous schedule of Sunday
vespers, Wednesday evening compline
services (after rehearsal), matins on every major feast day and a full
Holy Week program with three Tenebrae matin and lauds services
(Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday), the Improperia and
Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday
and an extensive Easter Vigil that included the twelve classical
readings and tracts.
Many Schola members then slept for a few hours on the floor in the parish hall before singing Easter matins
early the following morning. Solemn Easter vespers concluded this exhausting but, for many, exhilarating week.
Friction between conductor Wim van Gerven and the church's board, as well as the declining physical condition
of the church (pieces of plaster were falling from the ceiling during vespers) led the Schola to look for
another home. They found a welcome in January 1993 in the St. Nicholas Church immediately opposite
Amsterdam's central train station - an ideal location.
This building - also earlier slated for closure and demolition, and also rescued by a fanatical group of
parishioners - had gained historical monument status.
Restoration plans (full restoration of the church concluded in 2001)
were also being made at the time by the local diocese to give the
building a central role
in the city's Roman Catholic community.
Wim van Gerven left the Schola after an unfortunate internal dispute at
the end of 1993.
The direction of the Schola was then taken over by Eugeen Liven
d'Abelardo - a choir member at the
time - who led the Schola for a decade until his departure at the end
of 2003. In January 2004 the Schola appointed Jerry Korsmit as
conductor. Jerry was succeeded by Marcel Zijlstra in September of 2008.
September 2006 a new - and for many
surprising - initiative was taken. A female chant choir was
to share the weekly vespers responsibilities. There were too few men to
ensure sufficient and qualitively good voices on a weekly basis. It was
thought that the choir would be more attractive for new singers if the
weekly responsibility for singing vespers was reduced to once every two
weeks. In 2008 the new female choir took
on their share of the vespers routine. Jerry Korsmit conducted
the women until December 2012. The two choirs now
generally share the responsibilty for singing the vespers - the
men one week, the women the following week. Currently both choirs are conducted by Marcel Zijlstra.