First, tell us shortly:

Who you are…

My name is Jean-Claude Wilkens. I am 65 years old, I’m Belgian but I live in France and I have been recently retired from my last job. I was executive director of the national choir organization in France called A Coeur Joie. Before that, I worked for the International Federation for choral music, where I served as the Secretary-General.

When / where did you first come in contact with choral music?

I studied music in mathematics in parallel and for some reason, I became a music teacher straight after study. It is where I discovered the choir world.

What does singing mean for you?

Joy, freedom!

What is the greatest experience you’ve had inside the choral world?

In the 90s, I had the chance to participate in the creation of the word youth choir. I have been the manager of this project for almost 15 years and it brought me so many opportunities to work and discover the artistry of fantastic singers and fantastic conductors. This project brought us on the five continents and in some of the most famous concert halls.

What is for you the best part of a concert?

The glass of wine that you share with all the singers and all the instrumentalists after the concert. This is the best moments where you profit from all the work you have done to prepare the music in meet the audience.

Can you remember a mistake – signing a wrong word or hearing a wrong word – in a choral concert that made you laugh?

Yes, In Hungary the word youth choir was conducted by Fred Sjöberg from Sweden. Fred had driven his Volvo all the way from Sweden to Keckemet. The musical program was very nice, it included Rondo Laponico by Gustav Hahn, A brand new piece by the time. In the middle of the piece, the nonsense words were “vollo , vollo,…” In the afternoon of one of the concerts, Fred had a car accident. Nothing serious but the car was seriously damaged. During the concert, all the singers replaced the words by “no more Volvo”. Nobody in the public understood the joke but the whole choir, Fred and myself couldn’t stop laughing.

What is your favourite sound to hear?

The cork when you open a bottle of champagne

What would you be if you would not be a musician?

Sometimes, I feel that I could have been a nice diplomat serving my country and the international community

This was great, thank you!


The association is only as strong as the people involved. They bring the ideas, the input, the feedback, the encouraging words and so much more. #weareECAEC is an initiative that acknowledges the contribution of people across our association. Every week, you will be able to discover somebody new, be it board, youth committee, staff or a member of ECA-EC.