Kinderkoor van de Vlaamse Opera
Until the early '90s, Opera Vlaanderen generally relied on guest youth choirs, explains Guido Spruyt, manager of the music department of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. In 1991, together with Simon Halsey, then director of the adult choir, he launched a call for auditions to form the Opera’s own children’s choir.
Each year, the choir, which is today conducted by Hendrik Derolez, tries to get some 40 kids to audition to fill the gaps created when choir members leave. Boys are in high demand because the auditions mostly draw girls. Girls also tend to stay with the choir longer because their voices don’t break during puberty.
The choir has performed with symphonic orchestras like deFilharmonie, the Brussels Philharmonic and the National Orchestra of Belgium. In the last 10 years, the choir has sung ‘Kaddish’ by Leonard Bernstein, the ‘War Requiem’ by Benjamin Britten and ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff.
Even more rewarding are the operas that were written specifically for the children’s choir, such as the 2001 youth opera Achilleus by Flemish composer Wim Henderickx, and last year’s Babel, a collaborative effort between theatre group HETPALEIS and the music ensemble I Solisti del Vento.