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Hotseat - Bernadine van Veen-Richardson

824_Out_HotseatDirector of Religious Education at St. Martin of Tours Parish, Bernadine van Veen-Richardson was recently elected President of Classical Delight Foundation, where she gets a chance to help in the coordination of the many Classical Delight concerts in St. Maarten. The 73-year-old Concordia, French St. Martin-born Virgo, who lives in Sucker Garden with her husband Gerard van Veen, is more than happy to be able to help her board bring entertainment to St. Maarten for classical music lovers. Van Veen-Richardson gives insight into the foundation and its concerts and a sneak peek into her life in this week's Hot Seat.

How would you describe yourself?

As a hardworking, accurate, social contact person, who enjoys giving others a helping hand.

Where were you educated, what did you study and why?

I attended primary and secondary schools in Aruba and pursued my tertiary education in the Netherlands. My studies included teachers training and music. I worked in a Teachers Training College in Aruba as well as at the Department of Education and at Arubaanse Muziekschool. I came to St. Maarten in 1983 and taught in primary schools. At one point, I was the principal of Sister Magda Primary School in St. Peters. I also founded the Andante Music School.

How long have you been affiliated with Classical Delight Foundation and how did this affiliation come about?

I have been affiliated with Classical Delight Foundation from the very beginning as co-founder together with Roger Snow, Peter Scherzinger and the late Rein Heere in 2007, after some unofficial concerts. Since 2007, Classical Delight Foundation has organised about 28 concerts – four per year during the winter season. The foundation strives to keep one yearly concert with local artists, as we recently have done on November 30. The audience loves this.

What role do you play in the coordination of concerts?

The coordination of concerts is a shared responsibility of the Classical Delight Foundation board.

How do you think these concerts have benefitted St. Maarten over the years?

For the local community, the concerts serve as enrichment and an opportunity for people to enjoy high-level classical music. Also the tourists who visit our island appreciate that they do not have to miss the musical entertainment they are accustomed to at home.

How big is St. Maarten's Classical Delight concert fan-base?

Roughly 200 people attend our concerts.

When people think of classical concerts, they think of mature audiences. What does the foundation do to inspire younger audiences?

We offer free school concerts. The youth could be acquainted with different classical genres in these free school concerts which are performed the day before official concerts are held. Besides that, master classes are usually held with the visiting artists.

What is your favourite type of music?

My favourite type of music is Barok.

Who are your favourite classical performers?

My personal favourite performer is flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, who was one of history's greatest flute players and the most recorded artist in this field. Another is tenor Andrea Bocelli.

Your favourite pastimes?

My hobbies are music, reading and travelling – in that order.

Pet peeve?

My pet peeve is persons who do not keep to their appointment.

Your biggest fear?

My biggest fear would be falling into the Rolandus canal on the way to my house.

Where would you like to see the foundation in 10 years?

I hope that 10 years from now, Classical Delight Foundation would be an integral part of our St. Maarten community, where local artists and those from overseas find a podium to showcase their musical talents.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

The three persons I would invite for dinner are my husband Gerard van Veen and my parents. We would have a gourmet dinner in Paris, France.

Note: Classical Delight concert lovers can look out for the other exciting concerts the foundation will hold in 2015: An opera concert with musicians from New York, a piano recital with a Romanian/American pianist and a Dutch Tenor and a piano/violin concerto with a violinist from Iceland are all set to perform at concerts slated for January 8.