Maurice Heugen was born in Vlissingen in 1969 and began flute lessons at the age of six. He studied first with Ferenc Hutyra and at the age of eleven began lessons with Anja Gosselink-de Graauw and Koos Verheul, under whom he would later gain his performing diploma with distinction from the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.
He won various prizes and awards at a young age, making his debut as a soloist in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw with the Promenade Orchestra under Jan van Stulen when only eleven years old. This concert was broadcast live on radio and television.
Manja Smits became the first harpist to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, the highest state award for classical music in the Netherlands. After her studies in the Netherlands she was granted a special scholarship from the Dutch Government to perfection her art with the famous late Prof. Vera Dulova at the Tschaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow. She attended masterclasses with Pierre Jamet, Susann McDonald, Andrew-Lawrence King and Germaine Lorenzini.
Her repertoire ranges from Bach to Berio. She appeared on radio and television and performed in festivals such as: Holland Festival, International Harp Festival in Fukui ( Japan ), Rio Harp Festival (Brazil), Harpe Diem (Belgium), Spring Harp days in Szeged (Hungary), Festival ‘Harp Art of Russia’ (Moscow) and the World Harp Congress. As a soloist she performed with a.o. Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, the three dutch Radio Orchestra’s, the Gelders Orkest, Ensemble XXI (Moscow), Northwest Sinfonietta (USA), the London Festival Strings and Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss. Several dutch composers dedicated new works for harp to her.