Jo Haazen (˚Antwerp, 24 december 1944). Flemish musician/carillonneur. Studied organ and piano accompaniment at the Royal Flemish Music Conservatory in Antwerp and carillon at the "Jef Denyn" Royal Carillon School in Mechelen. From 1968 till 1981 he was appointed municipal carillonneur in Antwerp. He was instructor of aesthetics, music education, and Esperanto at the Van Celst Institute for Languages, Secretarial Studies, and Tourism and taught Esperanto at the Antwerp Continuing Education program for languages.
As the first laureat of the 8th, 9th, and 10th International Carillon Competition of the Holland Festival in Hilversum in 1966-68, he evolved as one of the best carillonneurs of his generation. His legendary recitals from the tower of the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady attracted thousands of listeners. Jo Haazen was undeniably a fundamental force in the renaissance of the carillon art in Flanders following World War II and is regarded as a figure of eminence in the carillon field. From 1981 till 2010 he was municipal carillonneur in Mechelen and director of the famous "Jef Denyn" Royal Carillon School.
Jo Haazen performed many concerts all over the world and is undoubtly the finest performer of music by Jef Denyn. The Dutch Musicologist and art critic Wouter Paap wrote in the New Rotterdam Courier: “A remarkably talented carillonneur. Haazen’s playing has reached a high level of virtuosity. It is as balanced as it is transparent. It is distinguished in style, and at the same time a joyful, robust musicality emanates, belonging to the best traditions of Flemish tower music.” (Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant, 7/8/1968).
Jo Haazen wrote a five-volume method book for carillon as well as various publications about the carillon art and philosophical subjects.He promoted the carillon arts in Japan and Russia and was in 2003 appointed State Carillonneur at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg (Russia). In 2006 he became professor at the Faculty of Art (Department of Organ, Harpsichord, and Carillon) of the Saint Petersburg State University, as well as a guest professor on the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions in Antwerp.
In 1980 he was awarded the distinction of “Honors of Music” by the University of California, Berkeley (USA). In 1995 the Belgian Ministry of Internal Affairs granted him the “Citizens Medal First Class”. In 2000 Jo Haazen was appointted European Honory Senator (BVSE-UEF) “Pro Pace et Unitate, e meritu et honoris causa”. In 2004 the Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded him with the Order of Friendship for his “unique contribution to the re-establishment of the music traditions in the Peter and Paul Fortress that had been brought into existence by Czar Peter the Great.” In 2005 he was in Saint Petersburg awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Saint George (Георгиевский Союз) and in the same year he received in Luxembourg the Silver Medal by the European Merit Foundation “for his important activities in favor of Europe.” In 2009 he was appointed the Christoffel Plantin Prize, a Belgian award of distinction that is presented annually to a native who has done special service with regard to making Belgium known abroad. In 2012 he received a Golden Label for his remarkable career, a distinction by "Classics Central" ("Klassiek Centraal"), the famous Belgian webpage for classical music. In 2012, King Albert IIappointed him Commander of the Order of the Crown (Commandeur in de Kroonorde). On December 15, 2012 he was launching an international humanitarian project (UEA-UNESCO), in addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with amendments on human duties:http://univdeklar.weebly.com ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Milford Myhre, president of the “Guild of Carillonneurs in North America” wrote in the “Bulletin of the Guild” about the performances of Jo Haazen (1975):
“A most unusual event awaited us in Antwerp during a Monday evening carillon recital at Our Lady’s Cathedral. The city has provided an excellent listening site by transforming the Glove Marked in front of the cathedral, as well as all the streets around the church, into a pedestrian mall. The combination of carillonneur Haazen, the Thebans Quartet of Antwerp (a brass ensemble) and an excellent listening environment brought hundreds of other people to the open area of the center of the “markt” where they remained standing in rapt attention, both young and old, for the remainder of the program. Imagine a crowd of more than 5.000 people, silent and “planted” in place for a full hour, moving only to send up cheers and waves of applause between selections or to sway a bit as they hummed along softly with the more familiar tunes. It was told that many adjoining medieval streets were transformed into candle-lit paths to other smaller squares where the bells could be heard clearly. Some nearby apartments facing the tower likewise serve as special “concert halls” with easy chairs when weather is inclement! Roughly 5000 fans awaited the appearance of the carillonneur at the base of the tower following the program. His appearance, all in white with his flowing red hair and beard showing brilliantly in the flood lights, brought forth two large bouquets of flowers and dozens of autograph seekers. Later, when we accompanied him to a crowded café nearby, he was greeted again which prolonged cheers and applause… much like a movie star. We had witnessed success about which all carillonneurs dream but seldom, if ever, achieve. Regardless of one’s personal tastes in music, there can be no mistake that Jo Haazen knows his audience, does his homework very well (i.e. plays faultless a variety of selections having great local appeal) and generates a kind of charisma that makes listeners want to return. The city, likewise, must be commended for astute cooperation (suchcrowds must be good for business!). Important lessons can be learned here!”