Stefaan started studying music at a young age in the local music school. In 1983, after finishing his studies of solfège at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent (Belgium), he decided to specialize in jazz. He studied one year in Antwerp (Belgium) with American saxophone player John Ruocco. In 1984 he went to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (The Netherlands), where his teachers were Ruud Brink and Ferdinand Povel (saxophone), and Frans Elsen (arranging). During these years, he took part in workshops with Michael Brecker, Jim Snidero, Charles McPherson and Barry Harris. In 1989 he obtained a Masters Degree of jazz saxophone and a pedagogical certificate, and in 1991 a Masters Degree of Music Theory (both classical and jazz).
Experience in education
Stefaan has been teaching music theory (harmony, eartraining, solfège and music analysis) at the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (The Netherlands) from 1987 'till 1992. In 1993, he initiated the start of a jazz department at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp (Belgium). Apart from being head of this department, he has been teaching music theory, saxophone, ensemble and arranging classes. During this period, he has played a major role in the introduction of jazz and pop music in the regional music schools. He also initiated a jazz and pop summer course for teenagers, which celebrated its 10th birthday in summer 2007. In 2001, he returned to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, were he has been teaching students of up to 22 different nationalities. In 2005, he finally decided to return to his native area, where he continues to devote himself to the development of jazz and pop education.
Experience as a performer
Stefaan has shared the stage with leading jazz musicians in Belgium and The Netherlands, such as Bert Joris, Hein Van de Geyn, Jack van Poll, Dré Pallemaerts, Nathalie Loriers, Sal La Rocca, Erik Vermeulen, Piet Verbist, Jan de Haas, Richard Rousselet, Michel Herr, Eric Legnini, Jean-Louis Rassinfosse, Stéphane Galland, Hendrik Braeckman, Jan Muës, Bart Defoort, Chris Mentens, Bo Van der Werf, Bart van Lier, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Ferdinand Povel, Rein de Graaff, Eric Ineke, Arnoud Gerritse, Ed Verhoeff, Theo de Jong, Christoph Erbstoesser, Silvia Droste, Marc Matthys, Roger Vanhaverbeke, Johan Clement and André Donni. He played on the North Sea Jazz Festival (The Hague) and the Belga Jazz Festival (Brussels). He also performed as a soloist with several big bands, string ensembles and wind ensembles. In the late eighties and early nineties he focused on Brazilian music, and formed his own band with musicians from Belgium, Brazil, The Netherlands and Uruguay. Stefaan is also experienced in playing pop, funk and soul music. He performed with various coverbands from The Netherlands, and with a few leading Belgian popsingers.
Experience as a composer
Stefaan has performed many of his own compositions on stage. In 1997 he won a composition contest organised by SABAM, the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers. One of his compositions, which was commissioned by the International Association of Schools of Jazz, was performed in 1998 by Michael Brecker and the big band of the Cologne Music Academy (Germany), directed by Bill Dobbins. In 2001, another commissioned composition was performed by a big band of the Royal Conservatories of Antwerp and Brussels, directed by Stefaan.
Stefaan has been active as an arranger for various jazz, pop and Brazilian ensembles. He was invited as a member of the jury at international jazz contests in Belgium and Germany. He also published articles in the Dutch Journal of Music Theory.