Among the leading Dutch mezzo-sopranos from the latter-twentieth century, Jard van Nes fashioned a career largely in the realm of concert music and recitals. She also sang on the operatic stage and with a fairly broad repertory, too, embracing works by Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Richard Strauss, and even contemporary composers such as György Ligeti (Le Grand Macabre). Van Nes was perhaps best known for her Mahler concert work and recitals: she has appeared numerous times as soloist in the symphonies (Nos. 2, 3 & 8), Das Lied von der Erde and performed many of the songs. But she can hardly be viewed as a Mahler specialist, inasmuch as her concert and solo repertory takes in works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorák, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Schubert, Schumann, and countless others. She has been inactive as a performer since 2000, but has devoted herself to teaching, frequently giving master classes, and conducting lessons privately with promising young singers. Van Nes had made numerous recordings during her busy career, many of which are still available on DG, Philips, Decca, Erato, Teldec, Sony, Globe, EMI, Chandos, Brilliant Classics, and other labels.
Jard van Nes was born in Zwolle, Holland, on June 15, 1948. She studied piano early on, but turned to vocal studies when she enrolled at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where her most important teacher was Herman Woltman. She had later studies with Christa Ludwig.
Van Nes' concert career began with an auspicious debut at the 1975 Holland Festival. But she continued to pursue international recognition via prestigious competitions, as well: she was a prizewinner at the 1978 International Vocalist Concourse at 's-Hertogenbosch, Holland, and three years later won a medal at the International Opera and Bel canto Competition in Belgium.
In 1983 she made her stage debut at the Netherlands Opera as Bertarido in Handel's Rodelinda. Thereafter, her career became a mixture of concerts, recitals, operatic appearances, and recordings.
Her performance schedule was booked with engagements across Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Van Nes appeared to great acclaim in 1991 in Tel Aviv as soloist in Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Van Nes gave her last concert on December 26, 2000, and has since turned to teaching. Her final recording was a 1999 critically acclaimed Telarc CD that featured her as soloist in the Karl Amadeus Hartmann Symphony No. 1.