Henk Neven is a versatile Dutch baritone who divides his performances among opera, oratorio, and lieder, and in each realm he has achieved notable success. His voice has a rich, creamy tone with plenty of power and flexibility, his resources under seemingly perfect control. It is no surprise to Neven's fans that in the realm of lieder he has been compared favorably with Fischer-Dieskau. Neven has sung a variety of operatic roles, from Purcell (Aeneas) and Mozart (Don Giovanni) to Puccini (Schaunard in La bohème) and Messiaen (Frère Léon in St. François d'Assise). In concert he has sung Bach's St. Matthew Passion, the Requiems of Dvorák and Fauré, and he appeared in the January 2012 premiere in Utrecht of Marijn Simons' Fourth Symphony. Neven has sung lieder by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Carl Loewe, and others, and has recorded for such labels as Opus Arte, Naxos, and Naïve. He has appeared throughout Europe, the U.K., and Australia at such venues as the Netherlands Opera, the Paris National Opera, Staatsoper Berlin Unter den Linden, La Monnaie, and many others, including major music festivals. Neven has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Edo de Waart, Christophe Rousset, Armin Jordan, and Marc Minkowski.
Henk Neven was born in 1976 in the Rotterdam suburb of Krimpen aan den Ijssel, Netherlands. He sang in his childhood and teens and went on to study at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where his teachers included Maarten Koningsberger and Margreet Honig. In 2002 Neven received a diploma from the conservatory's New Opera Academy and he graduated cum laude from the Conservatory the following year. He continued studies through master classes with Hartmut Höll, Jard van Nes, Graham Johnson, and Graham Clark. He still works with Margreet Honig and with Robert Holl.
Neven was regularly appearing in concerts even during his student years. In 2004 he sang bass solos in Choir I on a Channel Classics CD of the Bach St. John Passion led by Jos van Veldhoven. Neven rose quickly and in 2006 appeared on the highly acclaimed Naxos recording of the Carl Loewe Passion Oratorio. In 2008 Neven was named winner of the prestigious Fortis MeesPierson Award of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. More prizes and citations followed: the ensuing year he was awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and also selected as a BBC New Generation Artist.
2011 was a watershed year in the career of Neven: in January he debuted to great acclaim at London's Wigmore Hall with pianist Hans Eijsackers in a program of songs by Beethoven, Fauré, Ibert, and Loewe; and in April he received the Netherlands' highest honor for a classical artist, the Dutch Music Prize. More fortune came to Neven with the June release of his first solo recording, Auf einer Burg, an Onyx CD containing Schumann's Liederkreis and various lieder of Carl Loewe. The recording was nominated for a Gramophone award. In 2011 Neven also branched out into teaching when he accpeted a guest faculty post at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.