Show team

Karin de Fleyt

Peter Merckx

He finished his studies at the Royal Flemish Academy of music of Antwerp at an early age under master Walter Boeykens. Before the end of these studies he was nominated on the first national competition for musicians organised by the “Social works for performers”. After that he perfected at the Royal Academy of music of Brussels with master Henri De Roeck. During this period he practised orchestra and assisted the VRT-orchestra, the Flemish Opera and the Belgian National Orchestra (among others during the International Queen Elisabeth Contest for violin in 1993).

This was followed by an active period in contemporary music.

He founded the QO-2 ensemble (with numerous radio recordings) and went to Amsterdam to participate in the “Ocean-project” by M. Cunningham after an idea of John Cage. A CD with the compilation of the work of Herman van San (with the opening performance and a press conference at the Monnaie Opera in Brussels) was a turning point in his career.

His interest in chamber music brought him in the saloon-ensemble “Grupetto” with which he produced the CD “Titanic’s Last Waltz” and ”Marlene Dietrich, Falling in Love Again”.

It is from this point of view that he started with pianist Alex Roosemeyers to study Jewish music culture. On their recent CD they faced very skilled jazz performers. First-rate crossover!

Together with Ron de Rauw and Rembert De Smet he brought a catching musical comedy, a musical and humorous confrontation between different cultures and musical styles. From Western pop and rock to South American and Balkan music and all topped with a Spanish sauce.

Besides all this there is also room for contemporary chamber music with the “Prometheus-ensemble”, where he contributed to radio recordings and concerts in Belgium, the Netherlands (the Concertgebouw), England, Ireland and France.

Mauricio Kagel’s “Variety” brought him to HERMESensemble, where he now has his permanent home.

In 2014 he won the first price with the interpretation of ‘Schönheit’ of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Kürten.

Besides all this there is still some time to do some studio work with Dominique Pauwels, composer in residence of “The Music Lod” and he is regularly invited by “The Spectra Ensemble”.

The ‘Ergo Woodwind Comfortplayer’ (EWC) –his proper invention-, a second thumbrest for the clarinet is the culmination of three years of personal research and 20 years of experience as a performing clarinettist and music instructor.


Koen Kessels

Conductor Koen Kessels is Music Director of The Royal Ballet. He made his Royal Ballet debut in 2008 conducting The Nutcracker and has since returned every season, to conduct repertory including The Sleeping BeautyGiselle and Symphony in C and the world premieres of Raven GirlUntouchableWoolf WorksFrankenstein and Multiverse. He was appointed to his current position at the start of the 2015/16 Season.

With HERMESensemble he explores the boundaries of experiment, confrontation and expansion.

Kessels studied at the Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music. He was appointed Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2010. He is a regular guest conductor for Opéra National de Paris, and has conducted for such companies as New York City Ballet, the Théâtre du Capitole, Dutch National Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma, Teatro Real, Madrid, and the New National Theatre, Tokyo.

His ballet repertory includes Le ParcCoppéliaLa SourceProustCinderellaHurleventHommage à Jerôme RobbinsGiselleFrench ProgramSwan LakeThe Sleeping BeautyThe FirebirdJewelsRomeo and Juliet and The Prince of the Pagodas. Opera repertory includes Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin (Antwerp), Hosokawa’s Hanjo (La Monnaie, Brussels) and operas by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Britten, among others.

As Artistic Director of HERMESensemble he has collaborated with such composers as Abrahamsen, Bartholomée, Benjamin, Brewaeys, Ferrari, Henderickx, Hosokawa, Van Hove, Huber, Maresz, Murail, Pagh-Paan, Van Parys, Saariaho, Talbot and Yared.

Kessels is an honorary professor of Birmingham University, Artistic Director of Inspiratum and on the artistic direction team at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp.


Mireille Capelle

Mireille Capelle appeared in various films and plays, as in an impressive number of operatic roles including Wagnerian parts such as Eva and Kundry,  or Salome and Der Komponist (Richard Strauss) and a slew of French characters from Charlotte and Metella to Jeanne d’Arc (Jeann d’Arc au bûcher, by Honegger). In parallel she developped a large concert repertoire including main sacred and secular works from early baroque to contemporary music. She sang under the baton of Marc Minkowski, Jos Van Immerseel, Massimo Zanetti, Sylvain Cambreling, Seiji Ozawa, Silvio Varviso …and was directed by Robert Carsen, Guy Joosten, Andrea Breth, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Alvis Hermanis

Mireille Capelle belongs to the most versatile singers of her generation. She manages to combine most intimate singing as a classical recitalist and opera singeer with pioneering all round “performances” as a vocalist, composer and soundscaper. Her apport to contemporary music is enormous, including fruitful encounters with composers such as Cage, Crumb, Carter, Maxwell Davis, Kagel, Battistelli, Sciarrino, Brewaeys, Hubber, Wim Henderickx

Furthermore she is linked to the HERMESensemble as a member of the artistic committee and performer. 

Her sound scapings also defined as Sonic Architecture, are electronic sculptures to be performed as a live format. The first one, Kinesis Akinetos, was created at the art community Kanaal Axel Vervoordt (B), beneath the Anish Kapoor installation entitled “At the age of the World”. Nefesh and Ruach were created at the “Contemporary Music Festival” in Liège (B). Anello and Tra at Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, eventually Naga had its première in Paris.

Mireille Capelle composed the sound track for La Perle, a movie by the surrealist film-maker, Henri d’Ursel.

As a Professor at the Royal school of arts from Gent she has for many years largely contributed to the all round vocal education of the next generation singers.


Geert Callaert

The virtuoso pianist, composer and author Geert Callaert has obtained the highest degrees for piano, chamber music, piano accompaniment, advanced musical analysis, composition and conducting (the special prize LemmensTinel) at the former Lemmens Institute.

In 2002 he graduated at the Orpheus Institute with a project on the piano music and chamber music with percussion of Stockhausen, Xenakis and Wuorinen. During his formative years he participated in many seminars, among them the Stockhausen courses (Stockhausen Courses 1998, 1999, 2000, Kürten, Germany) and seminars at the IRCAM in Paris.

Today, he is much sought after as a soloist and chamber musician at home and abroad because of his large and virtuoso repertoire, ranging across the whole gamut from classical to new music.

His compositions and writing abilities have constantly gained interest worldwide. His performances as a pianist and a conductor as well as his own music compositions can be found on over 30 CDs and DVDs. He collaborated on different film scorings as a performer and his name pops up on a regular base in the credits of films such as High Rise and many others.

He is currently a professor piano in the Master of Music Programme of the Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Different composers – Marc Yeats (UK), Robert Groslot (Belgium), Michael Sahl (USA), Idin Samimi Mofakham (Iran), Martyna Kosecka (Poland), Kee Yong Chong (Singapore), Michael Sahl (USA) – have written their most beautiful piano music for him.

Geert Callaert is a member of the artistic board, a co-founder of the HERMESensemble and a core performer in the ensemble.

At the beginning of 2016 the Union of Belgian Composers has awarded him the FUGUE Trophy for the performance of Belgian art music in an unanimous vote. He often collaborates with different professional ensembles and orchestras in Belgium and he is a welcome guest at festivals and international competitions worldwide. In May and June 2015 he has performed Green Table during the concert tour “In Flanders Fields” with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (read a superb concert critics in the Financial Times of May 12th 2015). April 2016 he was performing all Persian and Belgian new music as a star soloist at the First Contemporary Music Festival in Tehran (Iran).

He has published different articles and texts in the past on contemporary music and art in general for different occasions.

September-October 2017 and March-April 2018 he has been a music director for two new productions with the Royal Ballet of Flanders creating new music by Gavin Bryars with stage director Edouard Lock.


Gaetan La Mela

Gaetan La Mela started his musical career at the Music Academy in Genk. He then continued his studies at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, where he obtained a Master in Music degree from Mr. Ouitsits. At the same institute he also obtained a pedagogical diploma and a specialization in chamber music. He attended masterclasses with Rainer Seegers and Franz Schindlebeck (Berliner Philharmoniker).

Gaetan La Mela is one of the regular core musicians of the HERMESensemble and is a member of Belgian Brass.

For HERMESensemble he performed solo performances with music from, among others, Kaija Saariaho and Salvatore Sciarrino. Gaetan is a fixed value of HERMESensemble.

Stijn Saveniers

Stijn Saveniers is a multifaceted conductor and cellist.

In 2014, he founded a new comic music theater production house which was called ‘Volksopera’. Volksopera develops professional productions of comic opera, operetta and early musical, a repertoire spanning Europe between 1850 and 1950.

Volksopera aims at both preserving this genre musically — its specific musical needs, sound expression in particular — and innovating the presentation of it through confrontation with today’s theatre paradigms. All productions will be based on the research that Stijn Saveniers conducts in the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp; within this research he publishes new critical editions of little known quality works. Volksopera’s first production, ‘Le Docteur Miracle’ (The Wonder Doctor) by Charles Lecocq, premiered to great acclaim in January this year.

Recently, he created the very first original Arabic opera, Opera Dera, in Kuwait, composed by Dr. Rasheed Albougaily and written by Dr. Ali Alanezi. A tour through the Arab Peninsula is planned for the 2015 – 2016 season.

Stijn Saveniers studied at the conservatories of Leuven (Belgium) and Maastricht (the Netherlands), where he obtained, both for cello and orchestral conducting, his Masters degree with greatest distinction. In addition, he was awarded the Hustinckx Price in 2006.

This triennial price is awarded to the most promising young talent. From then onwards he was part of a wide variety of productions: opera, operetta, ballet, symphonic and chamber orchestra repertoire, oratory and contemporary music. He was assistant conductor in ‘Entführung aus dem Serail’ (Mozart), ‘Il Barbiere di Seviglia’ (Rossini) and ‘Manon Lescaut’ (Puccini), all productions of the Summer Opera Festival Alden Biesen.

Since 2009, he is Music Director of the Brussels Operetta Theatre, where he conducted productions of ‘La Périchole’ & ‘La Grande-duchesse de Gérolstein’ (Offenbach), ‘Der Vogelhändler’ (Zeller), ‘Das Land des Lächelns’ (Lehar), ‘Die Fledermaus’ (Strauss) and ‘Clivia’ (Dostal). He toured Belgium and the Netherlands with a ballet production by ‘In The Wings’, inspired by ‘Peter and the Wolf’ (Prokofiev). This production also took him to Broadway, New York. ‘Peter and the Wolf’ was also part of a concept that saw his debut with the Flanders Symphony Orchestra.

He conducted HERMESensemble, of which he is a fixed member, in their project ‘The Times’- a forum for young composers.

Until 2010 he also had commitments as choir conductor. The highlight of his oratory concerts was, without a doubt, the performance of Brahms’s ‘German Requiem’ and ‘Song of Fate’, combined in a program with Strauss’s ‘Four Last Songs’.

As a cellist, apart from being a HERMESensemble member, he was asked as section leader for many recordings, by different orchestras and ensembles, for chamber music or as a soloist.

His conducting experience is further enhanced by additional musical activities. He regularly works as a pianist-répétiteur, especially in the singing class of Gemma Visser, which makes him at ease with most of the vocal repertoire. This work led to him taking up singing again himself; as a boy soloist, he had sung in the opera houses of Antwerp and Ghent and La Monnaie in Brussels. As a singer, he took part in a master class ‘Acting for Singers’, led by Uwe Hergenröder, which gave him a great insight into theatrical views, the viewpoint of a director, and changed his vision on approaching music as well.

Marc Tooten

Marc Tooten studied at the Brussels Royal Conservatory and went on to pursue further studies at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. During the course of his career, he has been the leader of the viola section of various esteemed orchestras and chamber orchestras such as I Fiamminghi, the Beethoven Academie, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the Radio Chamber Philharmonic (Hilversum, the Netherlands), and the Orquestra Ciudad of Granada.

Marc is permanent viola player with HERMESensemble and is part of the artistic board.

He is currently the solo principal violist of the Brabant Philharmonic in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. As an interpreter of chamber music he is highly regarded in international circles; in addition to other ensembles, he is a member of the Salzburg Soloists and the Arriaga Quartet as well as the Taneyev String Trio, which he co-founded.

Such distinguished musicians as Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Eduard Brunner, András Adorján, Martin Lovett, Martha Argerich, Boris Berezovsky and Itamar Golan have been among his numerous chamber music partners.

At the Lemmens Institute (Leuven, Belgium) as professor of viola and chamber music and at the Maastricht Conservatory, he is pleased to impart his musical experience and insights with great enthusiasm to young musicians.


Kevin Voets

Kevin Voets is a historian and arts manager. In 2001 he was invited by Koen Kessels to join the fledgling group and since then has become a permanent fixture.

He was the first production manager, subsequently became business manager and in 2012 became the general manager of HERMESensemble.

As the Research Coordinator of the Royal Conservatoire at Antwerp he is fully aware of the most recent developments in arts research. For over ten years he has been a regular guest speaker and writer at the deSingel International Art Campus and enjoys talking and writing about both old and new music.



Sarah Vermeyen

Sarah Vermeyen studied flute at the Conservatoires of both Brussels and Antwerp. She is a member of the Ensemble Houthandel woodwind quintet, and plays as freelance flautist in various ensembles and orchestras and for various theatre productions. Apart from this she is attached to various music academies as flute tutor on a semi-permanent basis.

In 2014, Sarah was one of the founders of Volksopera, a production house for comic musical theatre, where she is part of the core artistic team and supervises the production work.

In January 2017 she joined the HERMESensemble team as production manager.

Greet Vandenbulcke

Greet Vandenbulcke has succeeded Julie De Smedt as HERMESensemble’s press and communications manager at the end of 2022.

Greet has more than 15 years of experience as a marketer and communicator in various sectors. She has a passion for culture, music, travel and writing.

At HERMESensemble, her expertise as a communicator and passion for music and writing come together nicely.