Speakers Season 2019 – 2020


6 October 2019

Anglophiles: addicts, fools or the right kind?

Inez van Gisteren has been passionate about England ever since she visited a friend’s family in Kent in 1992. During the year she lived and worked as a carer in England, she had an inside view of the people; their customs, habits, lifestyle etc. Though she loves the country, she doesn’t always approve. But love takes you unawares and makes you blind, doesn’t it? She spent many holidays in England, cycling round and visiting gardens, stately homes, quaint little villages, towns and other places of interest. She worked as a tour guide for SRC Cultuurvakanties in 2002 and since 2013 she has worked for Garden Tours. In her spare time she used to be a guide at the St. Janskathedraal in ‘s-Hertogenbosch for many years when she lived in Brabant. She has lived in Deventer since 2012 and is now a guide at the IJssellinie in Olst.

What is it that makes England so special to us? Ever since I was there for the first time England has moved me far more than any other country I ever visited. Yet the country is far from perfect. So what is it that makes us cross the North Sea time and again? Even though they drive on the wrong side of the road, use their forks upside down and don’t want to be with us in the EU any more. Still we can’t seem to go wrong as long as we are over there and a feeling of general happiness comes over us as soon as we start talking about England. Or do we simply have the wrong (or right?) genes? A talk about happiness and madness, about who is right and who is wrong, with lots of pride and prejudice and perhaps not so much sense and sensibility. Not for the seriously minded!



10 November 2019

To Eritrea & Ethiopia: retracing a Victorian Expedition

John Pilkington has been called “one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers’ tales”.
In 1983, after journeys in Africa and Latin America, he completed a 500-mile solo crossing of the western Nepal Himalaya, and told the story in his first book Into Thin Air. His interest in Asia grew further with the opening in 1986 of the border between Pakistan and China, making it possible – for the first time in forty years – to retrace virtually the whole of the Silk Road. John was one of the first modern travellers to do so, and he wrote about the journey in An Adventure on the Old Silk Road. This was followed in 1991 by An Englishman in Patagonia; recounting eight months spent exploring the southern most tip of South America.
In 2000 he became one of only four people in modern times to walk the 1,600-mile Royal Road of the Incas in the Andes of Ecuador and Peru. In 2003 he explored the Mekong River and, with two Tibetans, reached and mapped its source at over 17,000 feet. In 2006 he turned his attention to the Sahara Desert, and joined a camel caravan carrying salt for 450 miles from the mines of Taoudenni to Timbuktu.


In 1868 the British government mounted an extraordinary bid to rescue a clutch of European hostages in the Ethiopian highlands. They built a Red Sea port, then a railway across the coastal plain, and finally imported 44 Indian elephants and commissioned 26,000 local people to serve the soldiers and carry their heavy guns into the heart of Africa. A hundred and fifty years later, John has been following their route, partly on foot with a donkey, and has been comparing Eritrea and Ethiopia then and now. He found today’s people spirited and charming, living in dramatic and extremely challenging lands. It was history and adventure combined!

On his return he said, “The walking part of the trip was one of the most difficult I’ve ever done. In both countries, ox-ploughs and mud-and-thatch houses are the norm over wide areas, and these would have been familiar to the soldiers who marched through the Abyssinian mountains all those years ago. But towns like Gonder and Lalibela are a joyous mix of ancient and new. If you haven’t been to this part of the Horn of Africa, you’re missing a treat.



19 January 2020

Dream on! – Kunst en Cultuur in het Victoriaanse Tijdperk (deze lezing is in het Nederlands)

Muriel de Beer studeerde Algemene Kunstgeschiedenis (periode: 1500-1900) aan de Universiteit Utrecht. Na haar doctoraal examen voltooide zij de postdoctorale universitaire lerarenopleiding. Met een eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid op zak kon Muriel direct aan de slag: zij kreeg een tijdelijke aanstelling als universitair docent bij het IVLOS. Daarnaast gaf zij les aan studenten van de Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Kampen (tegenwoordig ArtEZ Zwolle). Sinds 1992 is Muriel als freelancer werkzaam in het volwassenenonderwijs. Een van haar eerste opdrachtgevers was de Vrije Academie en voor dat instituut is zij nog steeds actief. Andere opdrachtgevers volgden snel.

De lezing biedt een overzicht van de meest significante kunsthistorische ontwikkelingen in Engeland tijdens de regeringsperiode van Queen Victoria en haar prins-gemaal (zo’n beetje de gehele tweede helft van de 19e eeuw).

Inhoudelijk zullen o.a. aan bod komen:

– Een kennismaking met het Britse koningspaar Victoria & Albert en hun persoonlijke artistieke voorkeuren (o.a. de schilders Leighton, Winterhalter, Landseer)

– De merkwaardige ‘spreidstand’ waarin Groot-Brittannië destijds verkeerde: een voorliefde voor  neorenaissance en neogotiek, gecombineerd met de  nieuwste verworvenheden van de industriële revolutie (o.a. het Crystal Palace voor de Wereldtentoonstelling, een initiatief van Prince Albert)

–  In de tweede helft van deze lezing: ruim aandacht voor twee bijzondere Britse fenomenen van de 19e eeuw: de PRB (Pre Rafaelite Brotherhood; ook bekend als de Prerafaëlieten) en de Arts &Craft Movement van Morris en Burne-Jones .

Schilderkunst, architectuur, beeldhouwkunst en kunstnijverheid wisselen elkaar in deze lezing af. Daarnaast zijn er literaire  verwijzingen naar John Keats, William Shakespeare en Geoffrey Chaucer.



22 March 2020

Experiences of British Classical Music – as a performer and a professional

Simon Wales is the General Manager of Waddesdon manor. With a background in music and the performing arts, Simon previously held the position of General Manager of Town Hall Birmingham, a 1000-seat concert hall. He was the founding Centre Director of LSO St Luke’s, the London Symphony Orchestra’s music education centre. He sings in the London Symphony Chorus in the tenor section.

As part of a musical family, Simon Wales grew up being surrounded by choirs, orchestras and opera productions throughout his childhood. After studying Music as his university degree, since then he has performed as an amateur singer and cellist. as well as working professionally with some of the most famous names in the Classical Music world.

Having worked for the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) for over 10 years in three different roles, Simon worked closely with conductors and soloists including Sir Colin Davis, Andre Previn, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez and Sir Georg Solti. He was involved in the planning and management of many international tours across Europe and to an annual New York residency, and recording sessions at the famous Abbey Road Studios.

As well as working for the LSO, Simon also sang with their Chorus of 120 singers, and performed on stage in London and internationally in televised and recorded performances. Having taken an extended break, he is now once again a Tenor in the London Symphony Chorus, and he is singing regularly with conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda and Antonio Pappano, appearing in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and in February 2020 in Paris, Luxembourg, Baden Baden and Hamburg performing Beethoven with Sir Simon Rattle.

After the LSO, Simon was responsible for the re-opening of the important Birmingham Town Hall, a historic classical concert hall which hosted the world premieres of some of the most famous works by composers including Mendelssohn, Elgar, Dvorak and Saint-Seans. Now a modern hall with a mixed programme, Simon managed the 1,000 seat hall for over five years, before taking up his position at Waddesdon Manor.

Having now worked and performed in the British music sector for 30 years, Simon will reflect on some of his experiences and give behind the scenes examples into the worlds of professional orchestras, amateur choruses, and concert halls.


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