The Chamber Choir El Grillo from Ghent was founded in 1995 by conductor Inge Bollaert. The ensemble consists of around twenty singers who, as a group of friends, aim to perform vocal music from the Renaissance period in a spontaneous and unconstrained way, with the example of some renowned Flemish ensembles in mind.
By carefully building up repertoire and a well-defined programming, El Grillo has succeeded in the span of only a few years in earning a strong reputation in the world of Flemish amateur choirs for its interpretation of early music.
El Grillo’s repertoire consists primarily of secular and sacred polyphony of the Renaissance. At its core are the works of well-known and lesser-known Flemish polyphonists, with a special preference for Josquin Desprez, Jacob Obrecht, and Orlandus Lassus. On the other hand, the English repertoire of composers like Thomas Tallis and William Byrd is an important point of focus.
In 2005, El Grillo organised a “Jacob Obrecht day” in and around Ghent’s St. Bavo Cathedral for the 500th anniversary of the death of Obrecht, a polyphonist born in Ghent. To celebrate the choir’s fifteenth anniversary since its founding, the ensemble performed several concerts in September 2010 with works by J.S. Bach in collaboration with the baroque ensemble il Gardellino. With this ensemble, El Grillo also performed the Bach’s Johannes Passion in 2013. In 2021, they plan to perform Bach’s B Minor Mass for their 25th anniversary.
In the past 25 years, the ensemble has performed over 150 concerts and performances in Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Liege, Nieuwpoort, Oudenaarde, Ronse, Spa, and many smaller Flemish municipalities like De Pinte, Evergem, Hansbeke and Peppingen. Their collaborations with musicians like Marnix De Cat, Erik Van Nevel, Guy Penson, Philippe Pierlot, Marcel Ponseele and the ensembles il Gardellino, Flanders Recorder Quartet, Aquil’Altera, La Caccia and Ensemble Rafik El Maay have pushed El Grillo to go beyond their boundaries and allowed them to reach a diverse audience.