Frank Van Essen

Frank's Gear Page > Songwriter, musician Iona / 1990-1993, 1999-present
Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals Drums / Percussion / Violins / Vocals
Photos by Janien Kommer, Joe del Tufo, Mike Anders, Lutz Diehl & Monica Duffels
F rank was born in 1967 and was brought up with music, both his parents being professional musicians, and with a brother studying violin at the conservatoire of music.

Frank's first drums were his mum's pots & pans, and many buckets lost their bottoms, much of her dismay! Although clearly a rhythmic talent who could never sit still, Frank decided to pick up violin, probably brainwashed hearing his brother practicing scales for 6 hours a day! He was never a really good student (always too many other hobbies) but Frank turned out to be a very talented and natural violin player who developed his own style from very early on. He learned mainly from just copying what he heard his teachers play - and was caught years later when one of his teachers discovered he wasn't actually reading his music, but playing by ear!

His fascination with rhythm & drums was never gone. At age 15 he got the opportunity to take up the sticks, and started practicing like a madman - soon to be a better player than his first teacher!

From that time on he started playing in all kinds of bands (including his high school's big band whose favorite tune was the Muppet Show theme!) mainly playing worship and gospel music. His first band was called "Judah" - a Youth with a Mission band with Dave & Becky Durham, Fred & Mary Dallenbach and Celeste Yohai, together with Karen Lafferty.

From then on, Frank quickly became a number one choice for many sessions and live performances, including concerts with Margaret Becker, Rick Cua, Marcel McArthur, Jessy Dixon, Billy & Sarah Gaines, Susan Ashton, Julie & Buddy Miller, Nina Astroem, Adrian Snell, Chris Eaton, Ralph van Manen & many others.

He met Dave Bainbridge in 1989 while touring Adrian Snell's "The Passion" and was asked to join in 1990. The band played a few concerts at Flevo, Christian Artists, the Spoor 7 festival in Holland and a performance at the Leverkusen Jazz festival, and was featured in a 60-minute documentary by Dutch television which brought the band to and Mull.

It soon became evident that the logistics of having a Dutch drummer was a little too complicated for the band, so after one and a half years, their ways parted again. Frank had joined a well known Dutch worship band (the Ronduit -unpronounceable for the English, I know!- Praise Band) in the meantime as drummer, violin player and singer, and was soon asked to start writing songs and arranging for the band, something he really enjoyed and perfected in the years to follow. Some of Frank's songs became very well known and are sung regularly in Dutch churches. Frank rejoined in June 1998, soon after the departure of drummer Terl Bryant.

Over the years, Frank and his wife Marlou recorded many CD's in Dutch in their own studio, including a Christmas CD in Dutch titled "Immanuel", featuring Dave Bainbridge & Troy Donockley. At the moment of writing this (June 2011) they are working on their solo album which will be released towards the end of 2011. Frank and Marlou regularly lead worship in churches and conferences throughout the world, with their own band called "Dew" sometimes joined by members of (see ).

In 1997, Frank was asked to be music director for EO's Classic Festival which led him to writing and arranging for a small orchestra. From that moment on, he fell in love with writing for strings. Today he is regularly called upon as string arranger and performer for many well known Dutch artists (see ). His strings can be heard on several hit radio singles. At the moment, Frank is studying Orchestration with the Berklee School of Music in the USA to further develop his skills as arranger and orchestrator for full orchestra.

Frank's wide variety of musical activities include composition, arranging, producing, teaching, recording, mixing & mastering in his own studio.

Frank lives in Collendoorn with his wife Marlou and 5 cats.
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2nd March 2019

MAP PROJECT PART 2......
Currently working on 6 new songs for Miracles and Parables part 2. Photos are from a recent session tracking drums and bass with my fav dynamic duo, Terl Bryant and Phil Barker. Miracles of healing, deliverance and raising the dead , and Parables about the Kingdom of God , the sower and the seed and the good shepherd. Instrumentation will be in keeping with part 1, so it’ll be drums, bass, cello, piano, guitar and my favourite brass instrument, the flugelhorn.
I’ll keep you posted. 😁 jo.

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25th February 2019

Hi Everyone,
Just to let you know that some of the Iona back catalogue plus my solo albums, are now available from Burning Shed - see

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9th February 2019

ITS BACK TO THE MAP!
So , earlier this week, I went to London to record my favourite dynamic duo, Terl Bryant and Phil Barker ( both known to you Iona friends😁). I’ve been working on some new songs for the MAP Project Part 2. We recorded on three new songs, all parable songs! Good Shepherd, Listen( the story of Jesus talking to a crowd about the sower and the seed), and The Kings Party( one of the parables about the kingdom of heaven).
As always, the dynamic duo did not disappoint 😁.
Will keep you posted on progress.

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14th January 2019

Hi folks, Jo here.

Since my last trip to Moria camp in November, 1000 more refugees with this story, making this journey, arrived in Lesvos in December, needing kindness.

All the proceeds from the Road From Ruin CD go to support the R.A.I.N fund (Refugee Aid International Network) Click Here:

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2nd January 2019

Jo here,

To finish off the year, I thought I’d share the Horse and Rider video with you, in memory of Esmerado, my special white horse, featured in the artwork of Iona’s Another Realm, and this year in the artwork of The MAP Project.

The song, from Uncountable Stars, was remixed earlier this year to get a more panoramic sound for the videos use in an exhibition in Japan, so here it is..... the updated version of Horse and Rider, featuring Esmerado.

And finally, I’d like to wish you a very happy and blessed 2019.

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30th December 2018

Hi, Jo here. Thought you might enjoy this.... a wee clip from an evening of trad music with family and local friends at Christmas. I think it’ll be a Festive tradition for years to come 😁🎶

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26th December 2018

A gift for this season - FREE DOWLOAD
Christmas songs (in Dutch!) featuring Iona's Frank van Essen, Dave Bainbridge and Troy Donockley

Yesterday, Marlou & I sang on the marketsquare of our hometown, Hardenberg. Beautiful (Dutch) songs from our Christmas CD Immanuël. It was cold & wet, but we were so moved by the depth of the lyrics, the melodies & the arrangements I did 16 years ago now.
They are still powerful testimonies of Gods love for His people, and some of the arrangements are still favourites of mine, too.

Marlou & I decided to make them available for free this Christmas for you to enjoy. With a little extra: I found all the original mixes in my archives, and remastered them up to today's standards. Everything now sounds so much more open, warm & beautiful. Very happy!

So please feel free to listen and download the music.
And we wish you every blessing for the coming days & the new year. May the love & shalom of King Yeshua be with you always.

Feel free to share and spread the word!

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24th December 2018

A Special message from Frank van Essen.

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4th December 2018

Healing Stories From Lesvos

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19th November 2018

18+ years after the Iona recording of this wonderful tune, I decided to record a new, improvised version with Dave Bainbridge. Listen to the full version at and enjoy SANCTUM

The melody of A Million Stars has been with me since my teens. It's one of those tunes that just "happened" one day while improvising on my own, and has never left me. One day I played it for Dave & Troy and they loved it, so that's how it ended up on the Iona album Open Sky. It's great to hear how the years have shaped the melody and both Dave's and my playing. The version on SANCTUM is as we improvised it in the studio, with a few minor edits, but it's very spontaneous and inspired. Hope you enjoy it. - Frank

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13th November 2018

Frank van Essen's SANCTUM is out now! Very excited to share it with you. With Dave Bainbridge, Troy Donockley and bass legend Jimmy Johnson, this is an album you don´t want to miss! Check it out on - and please share!

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26th October 2018

A small preview of Frank van Essen's S A N C T U M. The downloadable version will be available on the 25th via

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26th October 2018

10/25/2018

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19th October 2018

BACK IN THE STUDIO......
Well, the 3 Peaks in 1 day was completed and I’m not sure of the exact total of funds raised, but it was amazing. Thanks so much to all of you who supported us. I hope to be returning to the camp on Lesbos next month so I’ll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, I’m trying to finish the songs for Road From Ruin. They wouldn’t be complete without the lovely Gwyneth playing cello 😁.

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22nd September 2018

Two peaks done. One more plus getting down from number two! Weather has been great 👍

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1st October 2018

Hi folks. The three peaks challenge is looming! Two days away. Yesterday I was back in Copper House studio with mate Stu Reid , working on three new songs for my interlude EP( between MAP Project Parts 1&2). It will have 4 new tracks and I’m going to add 3 from Uncountable Stars , on a similar theme. The new songs have been inspired by some personal accounts of refugee experiences. This will be exclusively a fundraising non profit project.
If you’d like to support the 3 Peaks challenge for charity R.A.I.N ( Refugee Aid International Network) that I continue my involvement with, then you can use the link below.

Thankyou again.
I’ll keep you posted on everything! ⛰🎶
Ps. The picture was taken yesterday as Storm Ali hit our north coast!

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14th September 2018

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30th August 2018

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12th June 2018

A few images from my recent trip to Lesvos island , Greece. There are close to 8000 refugees stuck here. Some have lived through two winters in this place. The sense of despair is so real and some surveys have revealed that one in three people , including children, have witnessed someone commit suicide in these environments. The conditions are difficult to convey and their experiences impossible to imagine. On this trip , we discovered several Christian voluntary groups doing incredible work to try and alleviate the suffering, but resources are scarce and the numbers continue to increase. A thousand more refugees, mostly Syrian arrived on the island in April, the same in May..... and so it goes on. A team of us will return in two weeks though this time , I’m unable to go. I’m planning another hiking adventure in a couple of months to fundraise but I will give details nearer the time. Please continue to prayerfully remember these folk , refugees and volunteers.

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12th June 2018

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30th December 2018

Thought you would enjoy watching this video of me recording drums for Labyrinth, a new track for my solo album. There is a section in there calles "Maze" which has alternating bars of 11/8 and 13/8 - going well into Iona territory there! Dave and Troy are currently recording their parts for it, and the great Jimmy Johnson is playing bass for this which is exciting! Enjoy and there will be more music soon!

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27th April 2018

Hi folks, here is a quick update on SANCTUM. Happy to say I am making good progress and some exciting things happening... Some new music at the end of this, hope you enjoy that! Love - Frank
PS For more info on SANCTUM - go here:

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25th April 2018

Hi Everyone,
We're gradually moving the Open Sky Records/Iona mailing list over to my Wix mailing list as BT keeps blocking our mailouts! Very frustrating. So if you'd like to stay in touch with us for gigs/news/album release updates for me / Celestial Fire / Dave & Sally / Iona (possible re-release/downloads news etc), please subscribe on my website. (If you've already subscribed on here, no need to do it again, unless you've changed email address). Thanks! We won't bombard you with emails - probably 3 or 4 a month on average. (Dave Bainbridge)

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19th April 2018

THE MAP PROJECT GOES GLOBAL😁
Finally I’ve got through the packing and the postage of The Map Project Part 1 pre orders! Hopefully none get lost but please allow time for delivery and let me know if yours doesn’t arrive. I’ve included a few screenshots of some of the orders. Maybe you’ll spot yours. ! Official digital release will be next month. ( The second image was photographed on Tuesday at Downhill, North Coast , Ireland)

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21st April 2018

Hi Everyone, Dave Bainbridge here. Here are my latest tour dates! Lots happening over the next few months with the Dave Bainbridge & Sally Minnear duo, Lifesigns, a solo gig, Celestial Fire in September and in the autumn, Strawbs. Hope to see you at a gig somewhere!

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9th April 2018

Together with Yasunori Mitsuda( composer) and Michael McGlynn( Anuna) after the four performances of the Xenogears soundtrack. Then a quick tour of some parts of Tokyo from the crowded market streets to tranquil park...... very easy to get lost here, and so many are. Very happy to have sold nearly all the MAP Project cds I brought with me. Heading home tomorrow. Thankyou so much for all your good wishes and prayers for this trip.

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26th April 2018

Cancelled flights on Wednesday and MAP cds land same day. Arrive Tokyo one day late , with cds and jet lag and go straight to rehearsal/ sound check with orchestra and band. The production also featured amazing vocal ensemble Anuna. More to follow later.......

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5th April 2018

Well, the last 24hrs have been a bit of an adventure!

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2nd April 2018

HORSE AND RIDER
White Horse, Another Realm, Irish Day, Beyond These Shores, Edge of the World.....

(MAP early bird pre-order, click here

A few Iona titles visually referenced in this, the only video from Uncountable Stars, and several glimpses of the The Map Project artwork.

It’s been under wraps for 18 months with nothing to link it to until now, with the imminent release of The Map Project.

Deadline for The Map Project pre ordering at discounted postage is one week away, March 24th and the bonus cd will be a limited edition run.

If you’d like to pre-order, click here

Thanks and blessings
Jo

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18th March 2018

Hi Everyone,
My Celestial Fire band, which of course includes Frank Van Essen of Iona, now has a Facebook page. It would be great if you could 'like' and 'follow' us. Thanks!! Dave Bainbridge

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