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Capilla Flamenca is a prominent vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuvenmarker, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V. When the emperor left Flanders in 1517, he took his best musicians with him to Spain to accompany him as "living polyphony".


The core of the Capilla Flamenca consists of four male singers, currently Marnix De Cat (Countertenor), Tore Tom Denys (Tenor, who succeeded Jan Caals in 2006), Lieven Termont (Baritone) and Dirk Snellings (Bass), the group’s artistic director, who is a well-known musicologist.

For each performance, the vocal core is enlarged either with complementary singers, an alta capella of wind instruments, a bassa capella of string instruments and/or an organ according to the needs of the genre. Among the singers, Psallentes (“the singers”) stand out, a Belgian vocal group specialising in plainsong and directed by Hendrik Vanden Abeele. The members of the windbands Oltremontano, directed by sackbut-player Wim Becu, and La Caccia, directed by Patrick Denecker (recorder and bagpipes) frequently perform the function of alta capella. Capilla Flamenca has also performed and made recordings with Philadelphia-based Piffaro. The bassa capella consists of lute-player Jan van Outryve and viola da gamba-players Liam Fennelly, Thomas Baeté and Piet Stryckers. Joris Verdin is the group’s organ player.


Franco-Flemish Polyphony

Capilla Flamenca specialises in Franco-Flemish polyphony, focusing on the music of around 1500. Multiple recordings and performances of religious and profane works by Pierre de la Rue, Josquin Desprez, Heinrich Isaac, Johannes Prioris, Jacob Obrecht, to name just a few, have been executed since the ensemble’s formation in the 1980’s. Over the years, the group’s interest has expanded to include earlier music, most notably the so-called Ars Nova and Ars Subtilior of the fourteenth century.

The group’s recordings and performances are characterised by thorough musicological research and by special attention to authentic performance. Capilla Flamenca's analysis is based on a careful study of the original sources, in co-operation with fellow musicologists . This includes solving the typical conondrums of early music, such as the use of musica ficta, the problem of text-setting , the correct use of mensural proportions, the decoding of canons and the authentic pronunciation of French, Flemish and Latin.


Capilla Flamenca has made several cross-over productions with artists from other artistic disciplines. Side by side with the dancers of Les Ballets C de la B, the Capilla toured the world with Foi, directed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and choreographed by Joanna Dudley [554847]. Between 2003 and 2005 the production was performed more than 100 times.In 2005, the ensemble confronted Jacob Obrecht’s music with video artist Walter Verdin’s view on the famous The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. More recently, in collaboration with contemporary music ensemble Het Collectief, the Capilla Flamenca created 12X12, a programme combining Karl-Heinz Stockhausen’s Tierkreis with Ars Nova polyphony [554848]. In 2007, Joanna Dudley joined them again in the theatre and video production Who killed Cock Robin?[554849].

Festivals & Concert Halls

Capilla Flamenca was a guest at numerous festivals, such as the Festival of Arezzo, the Holland Festival of Oude Muziek at Utrecht [554850], Ferrara Musica [554851], Festival de Saintes [554852], Festival d’Ambronay [554853] and Cuenca Religious music Week [554854]. In 2005 they were ensemble in residence at the Laus Polyphoniae Festival in Antwerp [554855].

The ensemble appeared on the stages of great concert halls, such as the Centre for Fine Arts in Brusselsmarker [554856], Concertgebouw Brugge [554857], the Konzerthaus in Viennamarker [554858] and Concertgebouw in Amsterdammarker.

Educational activities

In addition to recording and performing, the Capilla Flamenca have a commitment to education. In order to further the understanding of polyphonic music, Capilla Flamenca’s concerts are preceded by an introduction to the programme aimed at the general public. Capilla Flamenca and its individual members teach at various music conservatories. They often teach master classes [554859] and workshops, both for experienced amateurs and for young professionals. From 2005 to 2007, Marnix De Cat worked with a group of boys and girls (pueri) in order to introduce them to polyphony. Like the 15th- and 16th-century choristers, the young singers were instructed by the magister puerorum (master of the choristers) in the rules of music and the art of singing through simple songs and plainsong. This resulted in a number of concerts and a CD [554860]. Through its educational efforts, Capilla Flamenca wishes to pass on its rich experience with polyphonic music to the next generations.


In 2003, Capilla Flamenca received the Premio Il Filarmonico at the festival of Arezzo[554861]. In 2005, they were awarded the Flanders Cultural Award (“Cultuurprijs Vlaanderen”) for music [554862].


  • 1993 - Puer nobis. Christmas in the Renaissance. Eufoda 1147.
  • 1993 - Renaissance. Polyfonie in Brugge. The Songbook of Zeghere van Male. Eufoda 1155.
  • 1995 - Zingen en spelen in Vlaamse steden en begijnhoven. Music in Flemish Cities and Beguignages 1400-1500. Eufoda 1266.
  • 1996 - Pierre de la Rue. Missa Alleluia. Music at the Burgundy Court. Eufoda 1232.
  • 1996 - Oh Flanders Free. Music of the Flemish Renaissance: Ockeghem, Josquin, Susato, De la Rue. Capilla Flamenca. Alamire LUB 03, Naxos 8.554516.
  • 1996 - Sei Willekomen. Capilla Flamenca and Flanders Recorder Quartet. Eufoda 1256.
  • 1996 - Concentu melodiae. K.U.Leuven 96-01.
  • 1998 - Bassano: Viva L'Amore. Capilla Flamenca and Flanders Recorder Quartet. Opus 111 30-239.
  • 1998 - Margarete - Maximilian I. Musik um 1500. Capilla Flamenca with La Caccia, Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino Aalst, Schola Gregoriana Lovaniensis. ORF Shop CD 265 (2 CDs).
  • 1999 - The A-La-Mi-Re Manuscripts. Flemish Polyphonic Treasures for Charles V: Josquin, De la Rue, Willaert. Naxos 8.554744.
  • 1999 - I Fiamminghi - V. Brassart: In festo Corporis Christi. Ricercar 233362. [554863].
  • 2000 - Jean de Castro: Polyphony in a European Perspective. Capilla Flamenca with More Maiorum, Piffaro, Trigon-Project, Wim Diepenhorst and Bart Demuyt. Passacaille 931.
  • 2001 - Resonanzen 2001. Viva España. Capilla Flamenca and others. ORF "Edition Alte Musik" CD 281.
  • 2001 - The Flemish Organ Heritage. Capilla Flamenca and A. van den Kerckhoven. Naxos 8.555809.
  • 2001 - Arnold de Lantins: Missa Verbum Incarnatum. Capilla Flamenca with Psallentes, Oltremontano and Clari Cantuli. Ricercar 207.
  • 2002 - Pierre de la Rue: Missa de septem doloribus. Capilla Flamenca and Psallentes. Musique en Wallonie 0207. [554864].
  • 2002 - Musica Reservata. Endangered Sounds. Capilla Flamenca and Psallentes. Alamire Foundation 2002.
  • 2002 - Vivanco: Libro de Motetes (1610). Capilla Flamenca and Oltremontano. LCD 9706.
  • 2002 - Prioris: Requiem. Eufoda 1349 [554865].
  • 2003 - Foi. Ars nova, oral traditional music and more. CAPI 2003 [554866].
  • 2003 - Utendal / De Monte: Motets. Capilla Flamenca and Oltremontano. Passacaille 937.
  • 2003 - Canticum Canticorum. In Praise of Love: The Song of Songs in the Renaissance. Eufoda 1359.
  • 2004 - Zodiac. Ars Nova and Ars Subtilior in the Low Countries and Europe. Eufoda 1360.
  • 2004 - Obrecht: Chansons, Songs, Motets. Capilla Flamenca and Piffaro. Eufoda 1361.
  • 2005 - Priest and Bon Vivant. Sounds of the City of Louvain from the 16th Century. Works by Clemens non Papa and his contemporaries. Capilla Flamenca, La Caccia and Jan van Outryve. Etc 1287.
  • 2005 - Dulcis Melancholia. Biographie musicale de Marguerite d'Autriche. MEW 525.
  • 2005 - Pierre de la Rue: Missa Ave Maria, Vespers. Capilla Flamenca and Psallentes. MEW 0633.
  • 2006 - Flemish and Walloon Organ Treasure, Volume 4. Capilla Flamenca and Joris Verdin. Vision-Air 2006/1.
  • 2006 - Lumina. Christmas Around The 1500s. Capilla Flamenca and Pueri. Eufoda 1366 [554867].
  • 2007 - Désir D'aymer. Love Lyrics Around 1500: From Flanders To Italy. Capilla Flamenca. Eufoda 1369.
  • 2007 - Lambert de Sayve: Sacred Music. Capilla Flamenca and Oltremontano. KTC 4022.
  • 2007 - Salve Mater Salve Jesu. Chant and Polyphony From Bohemia Around 1500. Capilla Flamenca and Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, with Barbara Maria Willi. KTC 1346.
  • 2008 - Bellum et Pax. Missa L'homme armé / Da pacem. Capilla Flamenca and Oltremontano. Eufoda 1372 [554868].
  • 2008 - Rosa (Mia). Capilla Flamenca (polyphonic adaptation of 'Mia' by the rock band Gorki). Lipstick Notes.
  • 2009 - En un gardin. Les quatre saisons de l'Ars Nova. Manuscrits de Stavelot[554869], Mons, Utrecht [554870], Leiden[554871]. Capilla Flamenca. MEW 0852
  • 2009 - Roland de Lassus. Bonjour mon coeur. Capilla Flamenca. RIC 290 / Eufoda 1376 (expected November 2009)


  1. See e.g. the publication of the Brussels Manuscript II 270 by Bruno Bouckaert and Eugeen Schreurs, Collection of Middle Dutch and Sacred Songs, Leuven, 2005. Several anonymous compositions from this manuscript were recorded by Capilla Flamenca on the CD Lumina in 2006.
  2. In most manuscripts of polyphony, the text is not written under the notes to which it should be sung. Although some treatises on the subject, such as De musica verbali libri duo by Gaspar Stoquerus (1570), subsist and can be studied, it is mostly through the practice and experience of singing together that the singers discover the correct setting of the text.
  3. Quite often, when a canon is to be sung, only the Dux (leading voice) is written. It is left to the singers to find out when and at what pitch the Comes (following voice) is to start singing. Sometimes a riddle written in the manuscript contains the key to the canon. Even then, the practice of singing together is the best way to find the solution to the canon. See Katelijne Schiltz and Bonnie J. Blackburne (eds.), Canons and Canonic Techniques, 14th-16th Centuries: Theory, Practice, and Reception History. Proceedings of the International Conference Leuven, 4-5 October 2005, Leuven, 2007.
  4. See Vera Scherr, Aufführungspraxis Vokalmusik Handbuch der lateinischen Aussprache, Bärenreiter, 1991.
  5. David Patrick Stearns, 'Piffaro melds music, Bosch', The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 2006 ( scan of the original article available on the Capilla Flamenca web site.

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