Claribel was founded in September 1992 by Guido Six, professor of clarinet at the Conservatory at Sea in Ostend, Belgium. Since 1989, Guido had organized a three day clarinet camp for his students. Each year the students were asked to perform the program they had studied intensely during the camp. They enjoyed playing in a choir so much that they asked Guido to start a more permanent ensemble.
From the very beginning the main goals of Claribel have been to promote the clarinet, the promotion, ensemble playing, and original (Flemish) music for clarinet choir. Roland Cardon, Norbert Goddaer, Bart Picqueur and Willy Soenen became the “composers-in-residence” and contributed a lot to the expansion of the original repertoire for this kind of ensemble. The American composers James Balentine, Warren Barker, James Cohn, Jane Ellen and Joseph Spaniola joined their Flemish colleagues in writing new compositions that Claribel performed at the ClarinetFests of 1994 (Chicago), 1996 (Paris), 1997 (Lubbock), 1999 (Ostend), 2000 (Oklahoma), and 2003 (Salt Lake City).
In 2005, the Board of Directors of the Midwest Convention invited Claribel for the very first clinic/concert given by a clarinet choir. In 1999 Claribel hosted the ClarinetFest at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Conservatory of Music. They offered the clarinet world the most international and most wonderful conference ever with over 50 nationalities on stage and in the audience.
Guido Six received his first music lessons in the local community band 'Onder Ons' in his native city of Wervik before joining the Academy of Music in Menin where he won the Medal of the Government in clarinet performance. In 1973 he attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Ghent where he obtained First Prizes in music theory, transposition, clarinet, chamber music, harmony and counterpoint and also the Higher Diploma in clarinet performance and the Master Degree in chamber music.
He joined the band of the National Police as principal clarinet at the age of 18. In 1976, he started teaching at the Academies of Music in Menin, Waregem and Furnes. In 1983 he left the Police Band to become a fulltime clarinet and ensemble teacher at the Academy in Furnes and at the Conservatory at Sea in Ostend. In 1985 he joined the faculty of the pedagogy department of the Royal Conservatory in Ghent where he taught clarinet pedagogy and literature.
He was the director of the Conservatory at Sea in Ostend since July 1994. Guido Six and his son Jef died in a tragic road accident in October 2015.
After the unexpected and sudden passing of Guido, the group unanimously decided to continue the work of Guido in promoting the playing of ensemble music, the clarinet in general, and Belgian compositions.
Claribel organizes the annual Belgian Clarinet Academy for young professionals in Ostend, Belgium. Guido was already preparing to host ClarinetFest® 2018. Guido's wife Chantal, his son Bert, his brother Gaby, and Eddy Vanoosthuyse are now working very hard to fulfill his wishes and to bring the clarinet world a ClarinetFest® that will be remembered for years to come!
Of course, Claribel is also continuing to make music! The group will be performing at the 2017 ClarinetFest® in Orlando, Florida. We also have numerous concerts planned for the near future. Many of our composers-in-residence and a lot of new composers are currently creating new music.
Bart Picqueur and Henk Soenen, both long time members of Claribel and excellent musicians, were selected as musical leaders of the Claribel Clarinet Choir Guido Six.
Bart Picqueur (°1972) received his professional music education at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent, currently known as the School of Arts. In this institution he obtained master degrees in conducting and clarinet, as well as a pedagogical diploma. His teachers include: Freddy Arteel, Dirk Brossé & Fabrice Bollon.
He currently dedicates his time to composing, (mainly for wind bands); conducting, (mainly for wind bands), and teaching conducting (…mainly for wind bands). Along his career however he made several side steps into theatre music, a rock band called 'Wonderbrass Aweful Powerband' and many other entertainment forms.
His works have been performed and recorded by world class orchestras such as the Royal Band of the Belgian Guides, the Osaka Municipal Band, the RBO Leipzig, The Royal Military Band of the Netherlands, etc.
Bart Picqueur is also principal conductor of the “Koninklijke Harmonie Ste. Cecilia Zele” (his hometown band in which he musically grew up), and is frequently asked to be a guest conductor and lecturer both in Belgium and abroad.
At the age of 18, Henk Soenen was the first prize winner of a competition for young soloists in his country. He later studied music in Ghent (Belgium) at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where he received several pedagogical degrees as well as a first prize in theory of harmony and his master’s degree in clarinet (with Freddy Arteel) and chamber music. Next, he studied conducting in Utrecht, The Netherlands (with Jurjen Hempel, Kenneth Montgomery and master-class with Peter Eötvös). Henk Soenen won the Van Guchte Prize for clarinet, Ghent 1986, the Muzikon Prize (chamber music) and a second prize in the Orpheus competition for contemporary chamber music (Antwerp, Belgium).
Additional study for clarinet was with Don Oehler and Freddy Arteel at the Cours International de Musique (Morges, Switzerland), and with Sjef Douwes and Andrew Marriner at the Orlando-Festival (Kerkrade, The Netherlands). As principal clarinetist on summer courses for orchestral playing, Soenen appeared both at home and abroad (e.g. Japanunder the direction of Dirk Brossé). He has appeared with many orchestras: I Fiamminghi, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense, Prima La Musica, Flemish Radio Orchestra, Flanders Symphonic Orchestra. Many of his performances have been recorded and broadcast.
At the Flanders Festival he appeared with Zoë Hwang, finalist of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, Brussels. "We were hearing a magnificient Schubert in which, besides Levente Kende, also the young clarinetist Henk Soenen appeared. Last named realized with a remarkable fine sound an intense beautiful melancholy-mused part" (De Gentenaar)
As a soloist he frequently appears with bands of the army in his country and the chamber orchestra of his brother Geert, the Accademia Amante dell’ Arte. He is teacher at the Conservatory at Sea in Ostend and The Academy of Music and Drama in Tielt (Belgium). He is also a member of the Grupetto Ensemble, Claribel and the Wodegin Duo.
Henk Soenen is conductor of the Wind Group Ghent and the Operette Group Kunst Veredelt Roeselare. For the International Clarinet Association Henk Soenen appeared for the first time in Ghent in 1993 "...We were allowed to hear this fine young player later in the week performing another of his father’s works on the conference’s final concert…It allowed the younger Soenen to display his impressive musical and technical gifts to the fullest, and his performance received a well-deserved, enthusiastic ovation (one of the noisiest of the week!)..." (The Clarinet)
In 1995 he was invited by Dr. R. Spring to perform the ‘Concerto for Henk’ a second time for the I.C.A. (this time in Tempe, Arizona). Robert Walzel ordered another piece (Tango and Tarantella) by Willy Soenen, and Henk played the first performance in Lubbock 1997. At the Clarinetfest 1999 in Ostend, Henk Soenen did the first performance of the ‘Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra’ by Willy Soenen with the Flemish Radio Orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé. In Oporto 2009 Henk Soenen performed the ‘Concertino for Eddy’ by Willy Soenen. This piece was ordered by Eddy Vanoosthuyse to be performed at the Midwest Convention in Chicago 2004.
Geert Casteleyn, Kevin Casteleyn, Hadewig Claeys, Heather Corveleyn, Hilde Delva, Thomas Eeckhout, Raf Langenaeckens, Mieke Mussche, Nicolas Note, Peter Renier, Henk Soenen, Kristien Stragier, Annemie Toutenel, Limke Vanblaere, Jan Vanhove, Gertjan Van Landeghem, Christine Vantomme
Eb Alto Clarinet
Jasperien Dejaegere, Bart Lagacie, Bert Six, Jef Vandenbulcke
Bb Bass clarinet
Marien Claerbout, Elien Dhont, Marc Kerckhof, Gaaike Van Landeghem, Sofie Werbrouck
Eb Contra Alto Clarinet
Bb Contra Bass Clarinet
Vice President & Treasurer
Claribel is a remarkable ensemble. Amongst the amateur members you’ll find some top soloists conducted by one great personality: Guido Six. He turns every concert into a special event, not only because of the technical and musical perfection of the performance but mainly because of his passionate enthusiasm. His talent to introduce every piece to make it accessible for everybody is unique. On top of this he is a real ambassador for contemporary Flemish music.Willy Soenen, composer
Claribel is to the clarinet world what Belgian chocolate is to our sweet tooth -- unique and delicious.Dr. James Gillespie, editor The Clarinet Magazine
I have had the pleasure of listening to many first-rate performing instrumental ensembles during my long career as a composer, including the magnificent Canadian Brass and the internationally recognized Woodwind group, known as the Quintet of the Americas. I would consider another group to be on the same professional and artistic level as the two foregoing - the Belgium Clarinet Ensemble - known as CLARIBEL - for which I have had the pleasure of listening to, and writing music for. These musicians are young, dedicated, thoroughly professional and at the top of their form, and under the expert guidance of their conductor, Maestro Guido Six. As a performing group, they are an absolute joy to hear and a great gift to the world of music."James Cohn - composer, New York NY
In the world of wind ensembles, there are many very fine groups, but few that are truly memorable. Claribel is an exception! With performances that display both technical prowess and touching expressive qualities, Claribel is unforgettable!Dr. Gary Hill, director of Bands - Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
Claribel is about joy in music making. My performances with them have been professional at every level, and filled with the love of making music. The two standing ovations received at the Midwest 2005 conference attests to the respect that the group has achieved worldwide. I am so proud to have been associated with Claribel for so many years.Dr. Robert Spring, professor - Arizona State University, Tempe AZ and past-president I.C.A
Claribel is a high-quality music ensemble that has been a wonderful emissary for excellence in music from Belgium.Professor Howard Klug, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University – past-president I.C.A.
Claribel is a very musical ensemble capable of the fastest, most exciting music and in the next moment the most subtle nuance. Under the leadership of Guido Six this group has become one of the premier ensembles of its kind.Dr. Wayne Bailey, director School of Music - Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
Claribel is an amazing musical group. The professional level of performance is outstanding;. Don't miss this very special group and their leader Guido Six.Richard Dunscomb - Chair Music Dep. Columbia College Chicago & Executive Director Chicago Jazz Ensemble
Claribel is the most recognized and most respected clarinet choir in the world. They have done more to promote the clarinet choir and its repertoire than any other ensemble. The diversity in ages and experiences of their members creates a unique ensemble that is unlike any other group in the world.Dr. David Shea, professor - Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX
Claribel is one of the world's premiere clarinet ensembles. Personal, musical and entertaining, these musicians inspire audiences each time they perform. Our world needs more musical ambassadors like Claribel!Dr. Charles Menghini, President - VanderCook College of Music, Chicago IL
Claribel isn't just an internationally recognized clarinet choir. It is a clarinet orchestra with outstanding soloists, deliciously varied ensemble sounds and great arrangements and original works spanning the entire gamut of music history. Don't miss them!Dr. Richard Shanley, Professor of Clarinet - Baylor University, Waco TX
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