The girl’s choir Amarylca was founded by Noëlle Schepens in the Town Academy for Music, Word and Dance in Lier in 1997. Since then the ensemble has grown into a full-scale equal voices choir of thirty-six young female singers. Hilde Buyens, who teaches the piano at the academy, accompanies the choir. Most choir-members have gained their first singing and choir experience in the youth choir Julica led by Noëlle Schepens. Many choir-members enhance their singing experience by taking private lessons. All girls have gone through general musical tuition and play an instrument; which provides them with the necessary background to adequately deal with music sheets.

Because the choir is an academical choir, it is evaluated on a yearly basis by an examination jury. This means they are being permanently stimulated to attain higher musical levels. To each new challenge Amarylca reacts by trying to move beyond the idea of just performing music. Text-interpretation and the achievement of a high technical singing level are intensely trained at all times.

The choir devotes itself to different genres and settings and commands a large repertory, from Gregorian chant to “Vanitas vanitatum” by Carissimi and \"L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato” by G.F. Händel to “Tweeklank van aarde en water” bij V. Nees. This repertory furthermore includes romantic literature by a.o. L. Délibes, J. Rheinberger, F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and L. De Vocht, but also contemporary music such as “Las Amarillas” by S. Hatfield, which is one of Amarylca’s favourites.

In 2008 Amarylca took part in the county contest for choirs in Turnhout and classified itself for the honorary league with a 90%-score. They also performed at the first international choir festival in Lier in 2008. Since 2006 they have been organising their own concerts. In 2007 they celebrated their first decade as a choir with a magnificent “Musical Waterday”. Another highlight of Amarylca’s musical career was the creation concert “Cantiones Sacrae” with Sine Nomine, Capella Vocale, the Madrigal Choir of Gent and Johan Duijck. The performance of “Spem in alium” by T. Tallis and requiring forty voices was absolutely unique.

The girl’s choir Amarylca has contributed to CD-recordings a number of times in a.o. “Feel the spirit” by J. Rutter with the school orchestra Academia, English cathedral music including work of E. Elgar and “Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis” by G. Morini and M. Beasley.In 2009 the 3rd choir-CD of the academy was released to which Amarylca had greatly contributed.

2010 has so far been quite an busy and demanding year for the Choir. Amarylca were invited in Barcelona to a cooperative venture with the choir academy of the Escola Superior de Mùsica de Catalunya. The choir also created “Stop all the clocks” by J. Borré and took an active part in the creation of the monumental work “Europa! Europa!”, an assignment by the European Community and musically arranged by H. Flintrop. In autumn Amarylca recorded on a new CD with music by V. Nees. On this CD, you will find “De zee is een orkest” and “Tweeklank van aarde en water”.

Conductor

 

Noëlle schepens was born in Retie (Belgium). She studied at the Lemmens Institute in Louvain, where she won several First Prizes in music. Also in Louvain she earned the degree of Laureate Choir-Master under the tutorship of Erik Van Nevel, the degree of Laureate Music Pedagogics  and the Masters Degree in Singing with Lieve Van Haverbeke.

At the Royal Music Conservatory of Antwerp she specialised in singing with Lucienne Van Deyck and opera with Guy Joosten. She further specialised under the tutorship of Gidon Sachs, Robert Alderson and Robert Carsen. She took part in master classes which were organised by the Operatic Studio of Flanders and made her début in the world of opera with several parts in operas of the baroque period.

As a chorus singer Noëlle Schepens collaborated with Sigiswald Kuijken, Jos Van Immerseel, Florian Heyerick, Hervé Niquet, Laszlo Heltay, Johan Duijck, Erik Van Nevel and many other conductors of international reknown.\r\nShe is also involved with the Flemish Radio Choir on a permanent basis.

On her repertoire are solo works of the various periods in musical style. She has already performed the alto parts of passions, oratories and cantatas by Bach and his contemporaries on numerous concert stages. During the autumn of 2004 she was a solo artist in the “Canto general” by Mikis Theodorakis, a successful production with the Flemish Radio Orchestra and Choir conducted by the Mexican Enrique Barrios.

She recorded CDs with various musical ensembles. As a solo artist she recorded a.o. music by Wim Henderickx and Flemish religious music with the trio “Voces Aequales”.

She also inspired “Atelier”, a cooperative of creative people who organise art studios for all ages.

Noëlle Schepens is firmly linked with the town academy of music, verbal arts and dance at Lier, and she conducts quite a few choirs in the “town of Pallieter” the youth choir “Julica”, and the girls’ choir “Amarylca”. As a choir conductor she works with dancing choreographist Tina Van Roy and film artist Johannes Kimpen.