Born: December 7, 1923 - Tampico, Mexico
Died: June 27, 2008 - Den Haag, the Netherlands
The Dutch choral conductor and organist, Jacobus Eduardo (Jaap) Hillen, was born in Mexico, where his father worked for Shell. He studied organ and choral and orchestral conducting at the Conservatory of Utrecht. At 20, he conducted his first choir, and 6 years later, in 1949, he was appointed organist of the Grote- of Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk in Breda. Many years later, in 1966 and in 1999, he accompanied the development and restoration of "his" organ.
From 1959 to 1984 Jaap Hillen directed the Utrechts Studenten Koor en Orkest (USKO; Utrecht University Choir and Orchestra). He was also for 20 years Cantor of the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht (University of Utrecht). From 1964 to 1992 he was a lecturer at the Kurt Thomas Course for choral conductors.
The number of choirs that Jaap Hillen conducted in his long career is so great that there can only few can be mentioned here. Thus the Arnhem Toonkunstkoor was 30 years under his direction; he conducted the Koninklijke Zangvereniging Tot Oefening and Uitspanning te Middelburg and later Toonkunstkoor Utrecht; he was more than 17 years conductor of the C.O.V. Scheveningen and after several years of the Koninklijke Zangvereniging Excelsior (Royal Choral Society Excelsior) in The Hague. He also led a time the monthly performances of the Bach cantatas in Geertekerk in Utrecht.
In 1985, Jaap Hillen founded Haags Barokgezelschap (Hague Baroque Society) and the de Cantorij van de Nieuwe Badkapel in Scheveningen, and direected them until his death in 2008.
Jaap Hillen was awarded many times for his musical work. Among others, he received the Nassau Breda Prize and the Medal of Honor of the City of The Hague, and he was a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.