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Van Leer, Thijs (31st March 1948-Present)

He is a singer, composer and musician born in Amsterdam, Netherlands into a musical family where his father was a classical flautist.

He took his musical studies in composition and flute at the Amsterdam Conservatorium and also studied the History of Art at Amsterdam University.  He later entered the Geneva Conservatoire and took lessons in orchestration, organ and piano and received his degree in flute.

Performing from an early age, he became the leader of a jazz band while he was still at school and then later progressed to singing and playing flute with the band Shaffy.  When he was 21, in 1969, he became a member of a trio that and backed many musician from the Netherlands and were known for a mix of their own material and cover songs made popular by the group Traffic.

Late in 1969 the trio were joined by Jan Akkerman and they became the successful duth group known as Focus.  Their recording output into the 1970s brought them the internationally successful hit singles “Sylvia” and “Hocus Pocus” and the two gold albums Focus III and Moving Waves which was a re-release of Focus II.

In 1973 he released his solo album Introspection where he played the classical flute accompanied by a full orchestra.  This reached gold status and there has now been 5 of these albums released over the years which have gained more than half a million sales.

By 1976 Thijs was the only original member of Focus left after an ever-changing line-up and in 1978 they made the decision to disband.

In the early 1980s he toured and collaborated with the singer Miguel Rios as a flautist and keyboardist.  He also featured on his 1981 Extranos en el Escaparate, his 1982 Rock & Rios and his 1983 El Rock de Una Noche de Verano.

Midway through the ‘80s he and Jan Akkerman got back together to form Focus 1985 but this was just a brief reunion.

During the 1990s he worked with the composer Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s on his music project Ayreon and made a guest appearance on the ensuing album Into the Electric Castle.

In 2002 he created yet another Focus line-up and they have since released Focus 8 and Focus 9/New Skin.  They also toured Britain in 2006 and have returned several times for appearances ever since.

He released his 20th album in 2008.  The Home Concert is music made at his home and can only be heard in concert or through its availability online.  In September of the same year he was recognised for special services to music and became a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.

In 2005 and 2009 he appeared on recordings by the Thomas Blug Band and in 2010 he celebrated four decades of “imaginative music” in concert with Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno.

In 2013 he appeared in a one-man concert about his life and music and Focus released the new album Focus 10.