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Born in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1970, Jef Smits studied music in the Conservatoire of his town of birth. He obtained 9 diplomas, including Master of Piano (teacher: Robert Groslot).
Jef Smits is head of musical studies at the Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen, where he worked consecutively as repetiteur, orchestra member, chorus member and assistant conductor. As such, he assisted Dmitri Jurovski, Ivan Törzs, Massimo Zanetti, Silvio Varviso, Alexander Joel, Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli, Friedemann Layer, Patrick Fournillier, Marc Piollet, Bàlàzs Kocsàr, Gerard Korsten, Stefan Klingele, Luca Pfaff, Michel Tilkin, Muhai Tang and Roy Goodman.
Jef Smits further conducted Tosca (director: Robert Carsen), the Magic Flute, Aladdin e la lampada magica (N. Rota) and Let’s make an Opera (B. Britten), as well as open air concerts in Antwerp and Ghent. In 2014, he played 2 performances of Winterreise (which was performed together with Bluebeard’s Castle). He was also chorus leader of Tristan und Isolde, Madama Butterfly, Pelléas et Mélisande, Arabella, Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Tosca, Götterdämmerung and of concert music by Maurice Ravel and Gustav Holst. He also conducted the musicals Cats, The Wizard of Oz and Het Meisje van Zaventem.