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, Janien Kommer, Monica Duffels & 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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23rd May 2022

Just a few tickets left!


4th March 2022

Hi Everyone, I've been working towards launching my Patreon page for the past several months and am thrilled it's finally 'live'! Of course I'd no idea when I started preparing it that the world would be in the grip of yet another terrible crisis, with Putin's totally unjustified and brutal invasion of the sovereign country of Ukraine. This of course affects all our lives in many profound ways, the enormous ramifications of which are still unfolding. Like you I'm sure, my heart is aching for the innocent people who's lives are being devastated by this totally unjustified war, especially the young children caught up in a terrifying situation they don't understand. I thought of postponing the launch of the page as it seems so trivial a thing to be doing in such unsettling times. However, if our peaceful way of life is undermined and artistic expression is stifled, then the enemy wins. More than ever in this divided world we need to come together and find common ground through the things that unite us, and our shared love of music is one way we can do this. When our hearts are crying out for peace, music can help to soothe our souls and connect us to a deeper, eternal reality. Thank you for reading this, and, if you choose, your patronage. I will continue to make music because I profoundly believe in the hope of a better future for us all, and this is the way I can express that hope.


18th April 2022

People who love Iona's music - have you heard Dave Bainbridge's new album 'To The Far Away yet? Here are some quotes from people who have:

“The lockdown had taken Dave away from touring, putting himself in composing mode and the result will probably outclass the previous glories as this whopper is a timeless classic of the finest vintage…..A no nonsense top 3 album for 2021, a true prog classic. A must hear and a must have.”
progarchives.com

“To The Far Away, just might be, well - the best thing he’s ever done – and with his years of output that’s saying a lot. Of course everything’s subjective, but I think it’s safe to say that 'To The Far Away' is easily Dave Bainbridge’s most accessible work, containing not just the expected virtuoso performances from all involved, but compositions that will please followers of Dave’s work with Iona, his solo projects, and his contributions to albums by the likes of Strawbs and Lifesigns. A brilliant balance of vocal and instrumental tracks, 'To The Far Away' will thrill and delight fans of both Celtic and ‘traditional’ prog-rock, and anyone open to more adventurous realms of music in general……If you’re a fan of Iona, Dave Bainbridge’s solo work, Celtic prog, classic prog-rock – whatever! You need this.”
Bert Saraco - tollbooth.org

"If you remember the band 'Iona' you will love this album. It's a masterpiece of Celtic Prog Rock...a thrillingly epic, goose-bump inducing journey of heartfelt songs and soaring instrumentals with the beautiful sound and imaginative playing of Dave Bainbridge and a host of superb guest artists."
Nigel Cameron - Celtish

"It sounds wonderful and as I miss Iona it is like they have returned."
Clive Poyser

"To the Far Away, is a wonderful journey of the mind, full of captivating music throughout. This album is one of the best albums of 2021. It is definitely in the top ten progressive rock albums of the year. With Dave Bainbridge’s years of experience making great music with Iona and on his own solo work, I knew this would be one of the best albums of the year, and it definitely lived up to and exceeded every expectation. Please get this album, relax and enjoy the journey. Every song is captivating and full of the kind of music that made Iona famous."


"To The Far Away is deeply beautiful and stunningly majestic. There is vision and sentiment that touches and is touching. From beginning to finale, not a wasted note, not a wasted space. It is reminiscent of Clannad and Capercaille and soars with the energy of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The singing is lilting and sweet. The lyrics, stories of depth and a passion for the best of humanity. Tremendous performances by all involved in this truly noteworthy album. Each piece is strong and leads to the next. I couldn't stop. Congratulations on an amazing album."
Ken Stasion

“And just to get straight to the point, the music is of great, if not exceptional, class….the wonderful Celtic influences in the music are back. Both Troy Donockley and Martin Nolan, his successor at Iona, sprinkle liberally with Celtic flute sounds….lovers of atmospheric symphonic music have a pearl in their hands with this album. This is hashtag #heavenly.”




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