In 1959, priest-teacher Michaël Ghijs becomes the conductor of Cantate Domino and enthusiastically takes over the leadership of the choir from his predecessor, Reverend Jules Ghyselen. The choir is given the name “Cantate Domino”, “Sing for the Lord”, referring to its Christian inspiration. The Board of the St. Martin’s Institute supports the choir because everything is expanding: rehearsal rules, the uniform and emblem, the musical repertoire, international contacts and a great many concerts, television performances, the first records, audiences with the king and the pope, reception of foreign ensembles. With the annual jubilee concerts, Aalst can host a cultural event of great renown.
As early as 1970, the first concert tour outside Europe takes place: Cantate Domino successfully tours 10 states in America in 4 weeks’ time. Since then, there have been several, almost annual concert tours abroad, totalling more than 100!
Religious music occupies a central place, but the choir’s repertoire covers virtually the entire history of music, from the Renaissance to contemporary works.
Through exchanges, festivals and direct contacts, Cantate Domino is able to invite foreign choirs and orchestras to Aalst almost every year, sometimes up to three times a year: groups from Australia, the Soviet Union, the USA, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Canada, Israel, and the European and former Eastern European countries.
Many choir members later remain passionate and even professionally active in music as soloists or set up singing groups or ensembles themselves.
In 2004, founder-conductor Canon Michaël Ghijs became an honorary citizen of the city of Aalst.
Many great compositions have been realised with the choir’s cooperation in numerous churches, cathedrals and music temples in Belgium, but also abroad, and this in cooperation with renowned conductors.
The choir has made a whole series of audio recordings and participated in film recordings such as ‘Daens’ and ‘In Bruges’. In 2017, for example, the choir contributed to the realisation of the film “The Conductor”.
Cantate Domino strongly believes in cultural exchange and getting to know other cultures. In this way, it has turned its choir members into real world citizens. Since its foundation at the end of 1959, Cantate Domino has undertaken about one hundred international concert tours (visiting more than 150 countries). The choir performed not only in numerous European countries but also in North and South America, Russia, Australia, India, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Thailand, Japan, Canada and China. The choir has been welcomed by ambassadors, consuls and numerous political and church authorities. The cooperation with local choirs and organisations has always been very enriching and has led to unique projects on several occasions. Cantate Domino has also worked with quite a few internationally renowned conductors.
Cantate Domino quite rightly has been awarded the title of Cultural Ambassador of Europe.
Andries De Winter
Andries De Winter (°Dendermonde, 1978) became a member of Cantate Domino at the age of 10, where he was taught the love of choral singing by conductor and inspirer Canon Michaël Ghijs. Like so many singers before and after him, he got to know the religious and profane repertoire of composers from all eras of classical music: from da Palestrina and Monteverdi to Bernstein and Webber.
At the academies of Denderhoutem, Meerbeke and Ninove, he studied solfège, trumpet, piano, music history and general music theory.
In 2000, he obtained a Master’s degree in Religious Studies at the KULeuven. During his studies, he joined vocal ensemble Thamyris, conducted by Stratton Bull, where he focused mainly on the study of Renaissance choral music. It was here that his interest in early music was further nurtured.
In September 2000, he started working as a teacher of religion at his old school, both in technical and general secondary education classes.
As a former singer of Cantate Domino and teacher at the college, he remained active for a long time accompanying rehearsals and supporting the choir wherever needed.
In January 2011, he became the conductor of the Ninove amateur company Fenik Choir and, together with this enthusiastic group, set up numerous concerts and projects with more than satisfactory results.
Since the spring of 2015, he has been conducting Cantate Domino. With the support of his singers, former singers and the whole structure around the choir, he goes in search of the very core of singing together, in the spirit of the choir’s founder-inspirer Canon Michaël Ghijs. Passing on the interest in choral singing and religious music and the pleasure it gives to new generations of young people always has been and always will be a priority for Cantate Domino.
He successfully introduces some new working methods, such as choir weekends and voice coaching. In 2019, with the support of an enthusiastic board and committed working groups and with the cooperation of many former singers of the choir, some of whom have been able to develop a professional musical career, he succeeds in turning the choir’s 60th anniversary year into a great and memorable festive year.
Canticum Novum is the male choir of former Cantate Domino singers.
As is customary for the celebration of an association’s anniversary, the main idea for the celebration of Cantate Domino’s 60th anniversary in 2019 was throwing a party in the presence of former members of the choir. Soon, the suggestion was made of having these former members actively participate and sing a few songs together during the Jubilee Mass at the start of the festive year. The performance under the direction of conductor Andries De Winter left many a former singer longing for more, and so they also sang a few songs at the Jubilee and Christmas concerts of Cantate Domino and at other events. For the former singers, it was a pleasure and a great honour to be on stage with the new generation of Cantate Domino singers.
At the beginning of 2020, the formal decision was taken to set up a new choir with interested former singers under the direction of Andries De Winter, with its own repertoire and agenda but still under the auspices of the non-profit association Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino. A new choir from Aalst, Canticum Novum, was born! Classical (religious) music still forms the basis of the repertoire, but also folksongs, student songs and many other genres are covered.
The name “Canticum Novum” or “A New Song” refers to a passage from Giuseppe Pitoni’s “Cantate Domino”, which is considered by many as Cantate Domino’s “anthem”. By choosing this name, the choir members, as former singers, explicitly wanted to underline their strong ties with Cantate Domino.
Daniel David was born in Lokeren. In addition to his secondary education at Sint-Lodewijks College, he took organ and piano lessons at the music academy in his hometown and obtained the government medal for organ in 1977 in the class of Jo and Jenny Van Eetvelde-Stoop.
A few years later, he graduated for piano in the class of Patrick Norro. During his student years, he won a first prize for organ in the National Music Competition ‘Belfius Classics’. He studied Germanic philology and later philosophy at the universities of Gent, Leuven and Freiburg im Breisgau (BRD). During his career as a language teacher at the Saint Martin’s Institute in Aalst, he regularly accompanied the choir Cantate Domino, both under Reverend Michaël Ghijs, David De Geest and current conductor Andries De Winter.
On the musical front, he took further courses with Johan Huys, Kamiel D’Hooghe, Kristiaan Van Ingelgem, Guy Bovet, Mark Tanner, Tatiana Deamant, Léopold Bidaine and Philip Fowke, among others. As a secondary occupation, he was organist at Daknam-Lokeren, Belsele-Waas and Erondegem.
Since retiring from teaching general subjects, he has lived in Dolhain-Limbourg, near the East Cantons. He has been an organist at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg for some 15 years, where he plays during Sunday masses together with Cindy Castillo.