Acantus was founded in 1947 as a church choir (St Martin’s Choir), but has since swum through the most diverse musical waters during its rich history. The choir regularly performs the ‘bigger work’, such as oratorios or cantatas with orchestra and soloists. Thus, Acantus sang The Coronation Mass, Vespers and Requiem by Mozart, Handel’s Coronation Anthems, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Duruflé’s Requiem and Fauré’s Requiem, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, cantatas by Buxtehude, Telemann, Zelenka, Bach, Purcell, among others.
Acantus takes its concerts to a higher level by being assisted by professional ensembles and soloists, including the bass-baritone Werner Van Mechelen, laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and a highly sought-after opera singer throughout Europe.
Acantus was successful in several choral competitions, in Tongerlo, Valmeer, Raeren. At the provincial choir tournaments, the choir placed in the ‘Excellence’ category each time. Memorable was the final place in the ‘Choir of the Year’ competition, organised by and to be seen on Canvas.
Acantus sings a wide range of religious and profane choral music, as well as lighter programmes, with a rich European folksong treasure and even a real jazz programme. In December 2016, it performed the programme ‘Europe celebrates Christmas’ three times, together with the folk group Ishtar, once Belgian contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Acantus can be called a cultural ambassador of Beveren, as the choir has also been singing internationally since 1989.
On 22 trips, it sang in many European countries in the four corners of the world, where it was able to perform at glorious venues and in renowned cathedrals. In 2017, the choir travelled to England, for a return visit to The Manchester Chorale, in 2018 Acantus got to sing at Cologne Cathedral and in the summer of 2019 we briefly crossed the border to Utrecht. After the tumultuous period of the corona pandemic, we were able to travel again in 2022, and to the Austria of Haydn and Mozart.
2017 was a year of celebration. The choir celebrated its 70th anniversary then, crowning that anniversary year with two performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
In 2018, the choir sang in Cologne, and performed the memorial mass in Brussels following the death of King Baudouin, then 25 years ago.
In November 2018, the end of ’the Great War’ was commemorated with 2 concerts including Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem and text fragments from a diary and letters from the front.
In autumn 2019, Acantus again collaborated with the group Ishtar, in the vibrant programme ‘Balkan Express’ and two Christmas concerts.
Due to the coronapandmie, fine musical plans had to be put away. However, Acantus endured this difficult period with verve. And yes, singing with a mouth mask. In early 2022, the masks could be taken off and Acantus was ready for its 75th anniversary celebration year. An academic session, a book on our choir history, a quiz, a choir meeting with Beaver choirs and other celebrations in a beautiful spiegeltent (also from 1947!), a trip to Vienna, Eisenstadt and Bratislava and a flash mob showed that the choir was alive and kicking. The jubilee year was crowned with the performance of Mozart’s Requiem and parts of Charpentier’s Te Deum.
Acantus and its conductor like an enthusiastic, broad view of the world and of choral music in particular. The repertoire is extensive and above all diverse: Acantus sings profane and religious music, from folk song to works with orchestra, early and contemporary music, in a range of styles and languages. They do so with a particular sense of musical quality, but also pay attention to the social aspect of group singing.
Singing is pre-eminently a universal thing that transcends countries, peoples and languages, but above all it unites them. Acantus has been living up to this idea for more than two decades during its numerous international tours, in which the choir also aims to be a standard-bearer for the rich Flemish choral repertoire.