Marks first piano lessons were given to him by his father at an old upright grand piano in their home in Amanzimtoti, South Africa. Music was a staple in their house. In addition to both his father and mother playing the piano, his mother was a great singer and my father often provided the piano accompaniment. They were a favourite item on soiree programs throughout South Africa. Choir rehearsals for Sunday services were held in the Zeeman home with his mother conducting and his father at the piano.
Mark has released 4 solo piano albums. The first, titled AROUND THE GLASSY SEA, was born when one summer he visited a friend in Colorado, USA, who worked in a rafting clothing and equipment store. One night he suddenly ended up doing an impromptu concert for the rafters at someone’s house. The owner of the home afterwards asked if he could record some of his songs. Mark said ‘okay’ and he took him down to the local Baptist church where over the next couple of days he played through a bunch of songs. The rafters sent messages with some of their requests as well! The result was a cassette tape of hymns and worship songs that soon was being passed around and copied by friends and strangers alike.One of these copies found its way to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and he got a call asking if Ihe would like to record a CD with them. This Around The Glassy Sea CD is the result. His good friend Dave Sylvester (a great guitarist and pastor of Calvary Chapel York) helped produce the CD. A couple of the songs were not planned to be on the CD. One day he was trying to record A Mighty Fortress and after what seemed like the 57th take he decided to play something totally different just to get fresh ears, etc. So he started improvising on What A Friend - and liked it enough to keep the song! Another time Dave was flipping through the hymnal and said that one of his favourite songs was Sweet Hour of Prayer and he asked if Mark could try it. So here is the one and only take! The title of the CD is found in one of the verses of one of the hymns.
Music of course is an essential ingredient at Christmas time. So soon after finishing Around The Glassy Sea Mark was back in the studio recording this Christmas album. There are the standard favorites, as well as one of his first compositions, a song called Peace. Probably one of the most requested songs at Christmas time is Silent Night. Mark thinks that the song is sometimes over ‘sentimentalized’, so it was a challenge for him to try and avoid too 'sweet' of a rendition. He thinks that for God the Father, giving over His Son to the earth below was a bitter sweet moment: He knew the purpose this baby would fulfill. So in the beginning of the song the low repeated notes are, in some sense, the foreshadowing of the cross.
"These songs were recorded in a historic movie theatre which is now the home of Calvary Chapel Budapest, Hungary. The building is in the heart of the city, which meant that we had to record in the middle of the night to avoid the sound of noisy buses, trams and police sirens. Even though it was winter, we could not put on the old heating system because of the noise. So the sound engineer (my good friend Mike Payne, who is worship leader at Calvary Chapel) was wrapped up in bundles of clothes at the back of the church, and I was down front on the stage in a small pool of light at the old grand piano. It felt like we were in an enclosed, protected environment – sort of like being in a cocoon. And as I played through some of the songs like “You Are My Hiding Place”, “Jesus, What a Friend” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, I was reminded that when the night envelops us, God truly is faithful even though we may not see our way clearly until the morning light." - he remembers back. The CD title is from a verse of one of the hymns.
He enjoys taking old hymns and making fresh sounding piano arrangements of them - well at least he hopes they are fresh sounding! There is one hymn that has somewhat eluded him over the years - and it is one of the most well-known hymns in the world: Amazing Grace. A beautiful hymn with a simple, singable melody. He has tried different things over the years with it and has never been quite satisfied with what came out but he is getting closer to being happy with his arrangement of that iconic hymn. So even though he is not convinced it is exactly how he wants it, he has included it in this group of worship songs - and in fact, it is the title of the album. Mark is currently a missionary in Hungary and there are many beautiful songs here. He has included one of those: Hús-vér templom (Flesh-blood Temple). Mark is sure you will enjoy its haunting melody. He hopes that for you as listener, that these praise and worship songs are indeed a “sweet sound”.