Ella Schoonhoven celebrates her 60th anniversary as a chorister at Holy Trinity Church Utrecht this September. Her passion to sing in our Church started when she was just sixteen years old – 1956! – and our church remains not only her spiritual home, but also the place where she can express her faith through singing in our choir.
Ella came from a strong Dutch Reformed background, with her father one of the elders of the nearby Wilhelminakerk and her mother one of the sopranos in the choir of the Jacobikerk (St James). She started her musical passion as an eleven year old, joining her mother in songs of praise. She entered our church doors after she had read an advertisement in the local newspaper which said that our church was a place where you could learn the “Queen’s English” and she was also immediately drawn to the great British “choral tradition”.
It wasn’t long before the choir master, Arnie Hutchinson, spotted her talents while she sang hymns with the congregation and he was instrumental in training Ella as an alto. Ella proudly tells us that the choir master called in at her parents and asked their permission as to whether she could sing in the choir of the Anglican church.
Ella has thrown herself into songs of praise in our church with great energy and lots of passion. She has formed great and enduring friendships in our choir with fellow choristers, of which her friendship with Oeke Kruythof is most prominent. Throughout the decades Ella has found a source of solace and inspiration in those songs of praise.
She has also served our church in other capacities, such as social secretary in the Council in the 1980s and was one of the hands-on gardeners in the church gardens in the 1990s. Ella enjoys singing with the younger and new generation of choristers at Holy Trinity. As a mother and retired teacher, she has a lot of empathy for young families and individuals who strive to balance the demands of work, study or family obligations, with their desire to sing to God’s praise for our Church.
Happy Anniversary, Ella! May you long continue to sing your praises for us all.