During my studies as a guitar major at the Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam, I came in contact with people from the NOS (Dutch Broadcast Corporation). I felt more and more attracted to the profession of recording-engineer, rather than becoming a professional musician. The Royal Conservatory in The Hague started in the same period a four year education in recording-engineering (Muziekregistratie), the first in Holland. I went there in 1983 to complete the qualification test and I was accepted. The curriculum covered recording-engineering, sonology, electronics, acoustics and music-theory. In addition to our techniques and music classes, I studied two years of guitar followed by two years of lute with Mr. Toyohiko Satoh. My graduation recording, Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony was recorded in Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, in the presence of the composer.
Already before finishing my studies in The Hague, I worked as a free-lance recording engineer. Most of the time I freelanced for Harlekijn Holland, both as engineer and audio-editor. I started to work with world-renowned organist Harald Vogel, professor at the Hochschule für Musik, in Bremen, and we made several recordings in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the USA. Later we also worked together on a video production, directed by Thomas Klein, called "Fette Kühe für eine Orgel," a short documentary about several historical organs in Ostfriesland.
At the end of my studies, I was contacted by Jacques van Oortmerssen, Professor of Organ at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam. With Van Oortmerssen, I produced CD's recorded in Holland, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. I also recorded Van Oortmerssen in Falun Christine Kyrka.(1991) Both Vogel and Van Oortmerssen were acquainted with another organist, Hans Davidsson and in 1991 I recorded the well known CD couplet with the organ works of Matthias Weckmann. This project served as the creative artistic section of Davidsson's dissertation for his studies in Musicology in Göteborg. The organ Davidsson played for the recording project was the Schnitger organ in Norden, Germany, a rather awkwardly situated organ for any recording project. This recording became a best-seller, and is still available today.
I continued to work with more and more international artists throughout Europe. I have been considered for several years now as an expert in organ recordings, bur I have done many orchestral and chamber music recordings as well. Many of these productions can be found on my website, but that list does not include all inclusive. I often worked behind the scenes for the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and I made radio-recordings and worked as a sound engineer for TV productions with music, for example Mozart Requiem, Eric Ericson's Chamber Choir, conducted by Eric Ericson, and I assisted with or edited other projects for different companies. I have worked in the USA, Great-Britain, Estland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. My recordings have been released on many labels, including Philips, Erato, Telarc, BIS, Nonesuch, Koch-Schwann, Capriccio, CPO, Fidelio, Finlandia, Musica Sveciae, Proprius, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Organeum, Gothic, Loft, Etcetera, Motette, Astree and others.
Famous artists with whom I have worked include pianist/conductor Philipe Entremont, conductor/harpsichordist Ton Koopman, violinists Gidon Kremer, Viviane Häggner, baroque violinist Monica Hugget, soprano Emma Kirkby and with many other great, less famous, but as brilliant musicians. Very known string quartets I worked with are, Quatuor Mosaique, Orlando Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet and Orpheus Quartet.
"Already during his education at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (Netherlands) he developed a keen interest in the possibilities of making music recordings with measuring microphones, not satisfied with the results obtained with the popular microphones used almost everywhere at that time. "I cannot stand the distortion these mics produce. There’s something terribly wrong in the time domain, and the sound stage is blurred and unclear, like looking through a dirty lens"
That became his lifelong passion, making sure that the sound picture was accurate.
Later that would develop into his acclaimed Ultra Linear Stereo Image (ULSI) recording technique.
He settled as an independent recording engineer/editor and continued experimenting with measurement mics. That was the time when I first met him at an electronics exhibition, where Bruel & Kjaer had a booth. B&K had introduced a series of omnidirectional microphones for recording purposes, based on the well known condenser mics for measuring applications, the core business for B&K. These new mics caused a quiet revolution in the classical recording world, and Erik was quick to see the potential for his own work.
We had many discussions about the characteristics of mics and how the objective and subjective domains (the measurements and what you perceive) were interacting. His analytical mind leads him often to untraditional solutions to old recording problems. His recordings are - without exception - of outstanding quality. They all transfer the feeling of
"being there". He bases his decisions largely on physical quantities, keeping a close eye on how to tackle the whole transfer function of the recording process, not only dealing with the frequency domain, as so many others do, but also taking the time domain into account.
I think it’s about time that his knowledge got more widespread".
Willem van Barneveld
Former managing director Bruel & Kjaer Nederland and former president B&K USA,
Independent consultant (retired)
"During the years I’ve known Erik he has continually impressed me with his knowledge of audio, his skill as a recording engineer and with his ability as an innovator. His recordings are widely recognized for their excellence. He is a regular contributor to professional audio Internet forums where his insight and knowledge are highly regarded. While having been professionally involved in audio production myself for almost four decades, I have often benefited from his experience. ...".
Department of Electronic and Photographic Media
Saint Louis, USA
"I should like to use this opportunity to express my opinion that Erik Sikkema is one of the finest recording engineers I have ever met and as such one of the best students from the Music Registration program of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. ...".
Former Head of the Art of Sound Program
The Hague, Netherlands