It was Peter Burian, actual chorus master of the Opéra National de Paris (Bastille Palais Garnier) who undertook the task of transforming the new members of the 1989-founded Flanders Opera chorus into a professional opera and concert chorus. Soon the standards of the chorus were widely praised, which resulted in the recording of Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten with Sigiswald Kuijken and La Petite Bande.
When in 1991 Peter Burian became chorus master at the Vienna Staatsoper, Simon Halsey was appointed as his successor. One of the leading conductors of his generation, Halsey’s excellent reputation is mostly founded on his activities as a chorus master. At the request of Simon Rattle Halsey founded the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, where he remained director. With this chorus he has recorded several works, including Rossini’s La Petite Messe Solennelle and Bruckner's Messe in Es. With the Flanders Opera Symphony Orchestra and the Flanders Opera Chorus Halsey also conducted a memorable performance of Britten's War Requiem.
As from season 94-95 on, the British conductor and pianist Andrew Wise took over the position as chorus master. He built up his reputation in the Netherlands, where he worked in De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam. He collaborated on the performances of Otello, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Verdi's Requiem and Mendelssohn's Walpurgisnacht, amongst many others.
After his engagement in Vienna, Peter Burian came back to the Flanders Opera Chorus. In his second period in Flanders, he conducted the chorus from 1998 until 2002. He lead the chorus to highlights such as Il Trovatore, Pikovaja Dama, Jenufa, Ernani, Otello, a stunning Norma, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rigoletto, La Bohème and The Cunning Little Vixen, to name but a few. He also conducted the chorus in a capella choir concerts.
In September 2002, Peter Burian became chorus leader of the Opéra National de Paris. Belgian chorus leader, conductor and composer Kurt Bikkembergs took over his job. Bikkembergs had gained experience as conductor of various chorus ensembles, e.g. the ensemble of the reknown Lemmensinstituut in Louvain -where he also teaches-, the chorus of the Saint Michael and Gudulae Cathedral in Brussels and the Flemish Radio Chorus. Kurt Bikkembergs conducted the chorus of Flanders Opera in the world creations of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Piet Swerts) and Richard III (Giorgio Battistelli), the Belgian première of Le Grand Macabre (Ligeti), and in a.o. Fidelio, Il Trittico, Ariodante, Jenufa, Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Nabucco and Semele. He also conducted the chorus in various concerts, including Ein deutsches Requiem, Mahler 3 and a capella-concerts with mainly 20th century works.
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