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 Lutz Diehl, Joe del Tufo, Monica Duffels, Janien Kommer & Mike Anders
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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20th October 2016

Rainbows and reflections.....
Downhill beach and cliffs North Coast, Ireland.
Just a couple of miles from where St Columba's first parish was located.
What a beautiful morning πŸ˜„

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16th October 2016

What's coming next on the MAP project??

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15th October 2016

Hi, Jo here.
Here's 'Thirstl' - - second song from the M.A.P Project (Miracles And Parables) - let me know what you think!
You can download the track for whatever price you decide from the link above.

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6th October 2016

Well, more of a song video really!
HORSE AND RIDER from album Uncountable Stars.
Jim Crone, band photographer for the Woven Cord artwork. Now Jim is more into cinematography than photography.
Keep an eye out for the video release soon πŸŽΆπŸ‡πŸ˜„

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7th October 2016

In the studio to mix the first of the parable songs called TWO BROTHERS!
Judging by Tre's expression, it could be challenging πŸ˜™!

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27th September 2016

I just love them. Moments from this evening on the River Bann, Co. Antrim. ( Jo)

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18th September 2016

Just a wee song for the morning 🎢🎢
Wishing you a blessed weekend.

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18th September 2016

Miracles and Parables......
Psalm 107:2
"All of you, set free by God.... Tell the world how He freed you from oppression..... Some of you wandered lost for years.... Hungry and thirsty.... On the brink of exhaustion..."
Here's some artwork for The MAP project. And here's the link to the first song release/ video.

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22nd September 2016

Hi, Jo here.

Here's 'The General' - first song from the M.A.P Project (Miracles And Parables) - let me know what you think!
You may download the track for whatever price you decide here:

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6th September 2016

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9th September 2016

Celestial Fire band UK tour starts Friday 9th September in York! Playing music from my solo albums and Iona music (including one track NEVER before played live!). Please share the video! View all the other Celestial Fire tour promo videos at
Thanks (Dave)!

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1st September 2016

In just 6 weeks, from green to golden, our field is ready. πŸ™
John ch. 4:35.... "Open your eyes and take a good look around. The fields are ready. It's harvest time!"

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31st August 2016

The Celestial Fire band tour starts a week on Friday in York! It will be an evening of epic and emotive orchestral, progressive Celtic rock, featuring a stellar line up:
Sally Minnear (Lord of the Dance/daughter of Kerry Minnear from Gentle Giant) vocals, vocal loops, percussion, keyboard, whistle, violin,
Frank van Essen (Iona, Barbara Dickson) drums, percussion, violin, vocals,
Dave Brons (Solo artist, Guitar Hour presenter) guitars, mandolin, vocals,
Simon Fitzpatrick (Carl Palmer Band, Jennifer Batten) bass, Chapman stick, Moog bass and myself,
Dave Bainbridge (Iona, Strawbs, Jack Bruce, Buddy Guy) guitars, keyboards, bouzouki.

The set list will be featuring music from my solo albums Celestial Fire and Veil of Gossamer, plus some Iona music.

Here are some quotes from the last gigs we did:

β€œThe brilliant and brand new Celestial Fire band...a spectacular evening of high emotion and genius talent!!” Rowena

β€œWhat a gig! Beautiful music, played by amazing musicians. Dave, Dave, Frank, Sally and Simon... I salute you all.” Aaron

β€œIt was brilliant! Dave is almost like Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman rolled into one! Sally Minnear is a lovely singer. It was one of the best gigs I've ever seen/heard.” Alan

β€œAn absolutely epic evening watching the Celestial Fire band play the most intricately beautiful music. Incredible musicians. Unmissable.” Russ

Hope some of you can make it along! Please share the leaflet with anyone you think might be interested in coming and support the cause of live music!


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28th August 2016

Hi folks. Here's a short video message to answer some of your questions about the MAP ( Miracles and Parables)project. The first song video will be released next week so keep an eye out for that.
Bye for now.

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29th September 2016

Somewhere in a wee cottage in the hills of Donegal I'm strumming along to some traditional fiddle playing. The fiddler is 15 year old Cianan, my youngest son's golfing buddy. Thought you might enjoy πŸŽ»πŸ˜„

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24th August 2016

Just a few weeks now before the Celestial Fire band will be on tour in the UK! Featuring Dave Bainbridge, Frank van Essen, Sally Minnear, Simon Fitzpatrick and Dave Brons and playing material from Dave Bainbridge's solo albums plus some Iona songs, this will be an evening of, as one listener put it from the last tour dates: "A spectacular evening of high emotion and genius talent". Tickets available now - we really hope some of you can make it along. Please share the leaflet with anyone you think might like to come!

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26th August 2016

Recorded on one of Iona's live albums. Apologies for the tree intrusion..... A hazard of going with the flow 😳

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23rd July 2016

Revisiting some Donegal locations ....
Inspiration for some of our songs from the past... Irish Day, Edge of the World, Beyond these Shores, Divine Presence, Wave after Wave, Here I Stand, Vision of Naran, Kells Theme, .....
Psalm 139 , the narrative ........
Hope you're enjoying Gods beautiful presence wherever you are.

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19th July 2016

Iona co-founders Dave Bainbridge and David Fitzgerald will soon reunite and join Adrian Snell for a special 30th Anniversary Recording of 'Alpha & Omega'; the 1986 album that brought them and Joanne Hogg together for the very first time! A crowdfunding campaign for the project is currently live at and will run its course until August 30th, 2016. Contributors will have exclusive access to never before heard live recordings from 30 years ago, study guides for the music and personal Β΄meet & greetsΒ΄ with Snell, which include unique online choir-coachings.

Current updates include an interview with Dave B about the working on the project 30 years ago and meeting up with David and Joanne. Check it out: !

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11th July 2016

Our field isn't quite ready for harvest ...... But it will be soon πŸ™
I was reminded of the song Today.
"Today the grass is greener
Than I have ever seen
Today the sky is bluer
Than it has ever been.....
Of course, this is barley, not grass.... But still, very green πŸ˜„
( Jo )

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29th June 2016

Dave here - tickets are now on sale for the Celestial Fire London gig on 11th September. Hope some of you can make it along, to what should be a great night. Please share the link with anyone you think might be interested in coming!

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4th July 2016

John 7:38
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink "

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22nd June 2016

John ch 7:37
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink"

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21st June 2016

Miracles and Parables. Filming videos for the first two songs of the project, soon to be released entitled "Thirst" and "The General".
The Map Project musicians are...
Bass: Phil Barker
Drums: Terl Bryant
Guitar:Andy Baker
Cello:Alex Priest
Trumpet/flugelhorn:Graeme Flowers
Myself on vocals and piano.
And behind the camera Louis Bryant.

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19th June 2016

Back home by the river !

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15th June 2016

Dave here! Just over a week before the next duo gigs with Sally Minnear, and less that three months before the next Celestial Fire band gigs (with our own Frank van Essen)! On the Celestial Fire gigs we're going to be playing an Iona epic tune that has NEVER ever been played live before and another that hasn't been played live for several years!

Hope some of you can make it along. Please forward the attached leaflet to anyone you think might be interested in coming - thanks!

For more info on the Dave & Sally duo and Celestial Fire band visit

Saturday 25th June
Amblecote Christian Centre (ACC), Brettell Lane, Stourbridge, DY8 4BS, UK
Doors open: at 7pm for 7:30pm start
Tickets from: ACC 01384 370365 or email

Friday 1st July, 7pm
St John the Baptist Church, Church Lane, Barham, Canterbury, Kent CT4 6PB
Box Office 01227 831493

Saturday 2nd July, 7pm
The Megacentre Rayleigh - 7 Brook Road, Rayleigh, UK
Tickets from

(Featuring Dave Bainbridge, Sally Minnear, Frank van Essen, Simon Fitzpatrick and Dave Brons)

Friday 9th September, doors 7.30pm for 8pm start
Fibbers, York, UK
Tickets / Info

Saturday 10th September
Wesley Centre, Maltby, UK
Tickets / Info

Monday 12th September
The Robin 2, Bilston, West Midlands
Tickets / Info

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12th June 2016

Folks in the Canterbury area - hope you can come along and see Dave & Sally's 'An Evening of Iona Music and More' concert.

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14th June 2016

Well, we survived , after 13 months apart..... We all arrived safely, but sadly, Dave's electric guitar has gone missing en route πŸ˜” No photos of the gig but here are a few from around Ostrava.

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10th June 2016

Ostrava, here we come!

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8th June 2016

Dave's next duo gig with Sally Minnear is in just over 2 weeks time in the West Midlands. Hope some of you can make it along!

Saturday 25th June
Amblecote Christian Centre (ACC), Brettell Lane, Stourbridge, DY8 4BS, UK
Doors open: at 7pm for 7:30pm start
Tickets from: ACC 01384 370365 or email

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