The girls 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 of the girls have gone through general musical tuition and play an instrument; which provides them with the necessary background to adequately deal with music sheets.
Amarylca in Montreux, 2016
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, to which Amarylca had greatly contributed, was released.
2010 has been quite a busy and demanding year for the Choir. Amarylca was 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 worked on a new CD with music by V. Nees. For this CD they recorded “De zee is een orkest” and “Tweeklank van aarde en water”. In november of 2011 Amarylca worked together with the international floral designer Stef Adriaenssens (www.floristiek.com). In ‘Beyond Imagination’, Stef Adriaenssens creativity and style and the sounds of hundred artists of the Academy for Music, Word and Dance were merged into one like a wonderful marriage.
In 2012 ‘800 years LIER’ was celebrated with a great historical festival. Amarylca was one of the important members of this production.
During the summer holidays of 2012 the choir participated in the Llangollen International Musical Esteiddfod in Wales. Their début on the international competition stage was immediately crowned with a first place in the category ‘Chamber Choirs’ and a place in the grand finale of the ‘Choir of the World Competition’.
The little seeds planted through the years resulted in a rich harvest on May 4th of 2013, the day the members of the choir created a birthdayconcert in the Jezuïetenkerk in Lier and celebrated 15 YEARS AMARYLCA. No words can describe this wonderful day… To top of this special birthday Amarylca welcomed 15 new young singers in September 2013. In the autumn of 2013 Amarylca together with Gents Madrigaalkoor took 2000 people with them on a musical journey through the fascinating story of Saint-Nicolas with music by Benjamin Britten and Johan Duijck.
Winter 2014 the CD ‘A mirror to Saint-Nicolas’ by Johan Duijck was published, created with the collaboration of Amarylca, Gents Madrigaalkoor, tenor-solo and La Passione. At the beginning of the new season 2015-2016 the choir has expanded to a group of 50 young ladies who represent 3 generations of singers on stage!
40 members of Amarylca participated in the International Choir Competition in Montreux, Switzerland during the spring holidays of 2016. The choir returned home with a 2nd place in the girls choir category, the audience award and warm hearts. Their competition-program consisted of 11 pieces in 9 different languages! Their sparkling performance touched the hearts of many listeners from all over Europe and even Asia.
October 13th to 17th of 2017 Amarylca and the Academy for Music, Word and Dance hosted Midtvest Pigekor from Herning, Denmark. A unique international experience for the 80 young ladies who sang together in the Saint-Gummaruschurch in Lier during Evensong and in the Saint-Romboutscathedral in Mechelen during a high mess. The two choirs also performed together during a double concert in the Jezuïetenkerk in Lier. 5 days filled with joy were spent in host families and Hostel Bed Muzet and were shared with hundreds of listeners with a big heart for choir music!
2018-2019 Amarylca welcomed a new generation of young singers and spent plenty of time on vocal development. Lots of intern projects brought the girls closer together and now the time has come for the next big international challenge…
In APRIL 2020 Amarylca will perform in Reyjkjavik and put Iceland on their list of extraordinary choir-destinations!