Albert Bartelds is a (Rouveen) Zwolle resident

'Zwolle has always had a good breeding ground for musicians'

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Albert Bartelds and Hendrik Jan Bökkers kick off the Zwolle Hanseatic Year 2023 April 4. They will then bring the popular podcast series The Lower Saxons to theater Odeon. That the show sold out in no time fits the revival of the regional language, Bartelds thinks. He is a regional language specialist at the Overijsselacademie, musician for Harvest and others, photographer, festival organizer and Zwolle native. "A Rouveen Zwollenaar though...," he nuances the last word of the enumeration.

"I was born in Rouveen. Our village was more focused on Meppel than Zwolle. Zwolle was really the big city for me. I ended up there because I went to study at the Vrijgemaakte Sociale Academie at the Veemarkt. At a certain point you want to live in Zwolle. Also because I was always busy with music and had the feeling that the city was teeming with musicians. That turned out to be the case. Even then you had a very lively music culture in Zwolle. The city has always had a good breeding ground for musicians.

Feeling at home

I myself played with Erwin Nyhoff in the Prodigal Sons in the 1990s. I combined bass guitar with management. Despite the music and the friendships, it took quite a long time before I really felt at home in Zwolle. I still remained a boy from the countryside. Until about fifteen years ago when I showed some colleagues from Kampen around. Then we walked through the old center together and I suddenly had the feeling that Zwolle is my city. That has only grown stronger. Maybe also because I am very 'village-like' with my friends and family. They don't ring the doorbell, but come in through the back door. That's how it used to be in Rouveen.

The inner city

I find Zwolle perhaps at its most beautiful on Sunday mornings. Then I often walk from our home on the Oosterlaan to the inner city. In the silence and with the rising sun, Zwolle is really beautiful. Guests always think so too. Recently we walked with friends from England to the city. Then you go under the Sassenpoort and walk along the old facades of the Sassenstraat. 'Wow,' I heard them say. They also thought the city looked so well-groomed. And of course it is.

©Björn de Vries
©Björn de Vries

Culinary city

I'm excited about the changes in Zwolle. In the past, I felt they demolished old buildings a little too easily. Now you see that you can also get a development going with that. For example, I think the new building on the old grounds of De Weezenlanden hospital is very successful. Very nice is also the large culinary offer. We have booked a table for next January at De Librije. I'm already looking forward to that. I think Jonnie and Thérèse have started a development: the good restaurants in Zwolle are flying like mushrooms. I think that's fantastic. I don't smoke or drink anymore, but I love good food. Also because to me food means being together.

Raw edges

The cultural world has become very professionalized in the last fifteen years. Artists and musicians are more businesslike than they used to be. That has many advantages, but I also love the old band feeling and the squat atmosphere. You can still find those raw edges in Zwolle, too. For example, at the Kattegat Festival. That's an event where artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and residents of that neighborhood join forces culturally. I like to come there. I then feel again the atmosphere in which I myself discovered all kinds of cultures in Zwolle.

The language of Zwolle

Zwolle is a city where people from all over the Netherlands and of all nationalities come to live. I personally like that, but the downside is that you hear the Zwolle language less and less. Unlike the villages in the area. There it seems as if Low Saxon, the old language of this side of the Netherlands, is on the rise again. I also notice this when, as a regional language specialist, I give lessons in Low Saxon at secondary schools. Then many students raise their hands when I ask who speaks or understands 'plat'.

The Lower Saxons

Regional language is also trendy culturally. Many musicians and theater makers are discovering how beautiful the language of their region is. The old Zwols also has beautiful sounds. The growing interest can also be seen in the success of the podcast series De Nedersaksen which we make in cooperation with Hedon. Twenty thousand people listen per episode. Also many young people, we notice by the reactions. And very special: the premiere of our theater production is in Zwolle. And it sold out very quickly."

The top 3 of Albert Bartelds

  • "In De Enk on the Assendorperplein you can eat affordable and delicious food nowadays. That really is a golden opportunity. Many people from the neighborhood and the rest of Zwolle regularly drop in."
  • "Zwolle has a very varied selection of good restaurants. Favorites include Bai Yok and the Belly of Paris. My wife has family living in France. That's another reason we take heart in the "belly.
  • "On Sunday mornings, I like to walk to Filmtheater Fraterhuis. Enjoy watching a movie in beautiful surroundings. And afterwards make lunch at home. That's part of my weekend feeling."

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