The choir’s history

More than twenty years ago, the Rotterdam Choir Projects Foundation was formed. The idea of practising choral music for two or three months and performing it with a group of singers that was formed for each project, was not widespread in 1987. The Rotterdam Choir Projects initiative was one of the first in the Netherlands.

Over the years, choir projects performed noteworthy concerts, with Palestrina, Tallis, Byrd, Schütz, Monteverdi and Bach regularly appearing on the programme. The choir also sang a more modern repertoire: Debussy, Schönberg, Poulenc and Britten. choir projects produced four CDs, including music by Palestrina, Purcell (Dido and Aeneas) and the extended Bach family. In 1992, the choir released a CD of work by Hendrik Andriessen, which Queen Beatrix used as accompanying music to her Christmas speech. The choir projects celebrated their tenth anniversary with a mass and the Mariavespers by Monteverdi, and with Carissimi’s Jephte.

Maarten Michielsen conducted the choir projects since the beginning. He also regularly invited specialists who could take the choir further: Andrew Parrott, David Wulstan, Frans Moonen, Harry van der Kamp and Jan Bogaarts worked with the choir not only with a great deal of knowledge, but also with great enthusiasm.

After thirteen years, the project formula had run its course. It became ever more difficult to assemble enough good quality singers, and the choir’s core members developed a need to regularly work on a polished collective sound, work on a more demanding repertoire and go deeper into choral music.

Thus, Cappella Gabrieli was formed: a choir composed of experienced singers who would rehearse weekly, and which would expand as required by the music. The choir gave its first concert in 2000, followed by programmes with many polyphonic renaissance and baroque works, but also twentieth-century pieces. Cappella Gabrieli sang works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Hohe Messe, fourth Lutherian mass), cantatas (Buxtehude, Bach, Telemann), Britten and Lassus (Lagrime di San Pietro).

In September 2004, Uwe Gronostay, long-time conductor of the Nederlands Kamerkoor, led Cappella Gabrieli as guest conductor for the 1875-1950 Berlin programme (Becker, Distler, Eisler, Pepping). Choir and conductor hit it off, and a year later the choir visited Gronostay in Berlin, where they also gave a concert.

One special project was the initiative to complete and perform Carlo Gesualdo’s surviving incomplete six- and seven-part motets. Theo Verbey, Joop Voorn and Henri Broeren, three contemporary Dutch composers, filled-in the missing parts (bass and second soprano) in their own style.

Cappella Gabrieli specialises in renaissance and baroque (Bach, Palestrina, Tallis, Lassus, Gesualdo), but also branches out into older (Machaut) and newer music (Britten, Schönberg, Distler).

Conductor | History | Press