The Royal Choir Society Mastreechter Staar
is one of most famous male choirs in the Netherlands and it was founded in 1883. So it has a long history of almost 134 years. In 1899 the choir was granted the designation ‘Royal’. Since 1903 Queen Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix were patronesses of the Staar. Queen Beatrix, now princess Beatrix, continues this patronage.
The choir’s banner carries the orange pennant with crown. The president wears a ribbon with the medal of honour of Queen Wilhelmina. The Mastreechter Staar still has a special bond with the Royal family. As a matter of fact the Staar sang a welcome song at the 1st work visit by King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima to the province of Limburg in 2014.
The name ‘Staar’ ( ‘star’ in the Maastricht dialect) is derived from the star in the coat of arms of the town of Maastricht. Two Staar conductors, Peter Gielen from Belgium (1891 – 1943) and Martin Koekelkoren (1947 – 1976) have had a lasting influence on its repertoire.
The Mastreechter Staar can be characterised as a concert choir which sings at a semiprofessional level. In order to attain this the 115 singers receive instruction in its own choir-school which is headed by a professional singing-teacher. The intensive choir-practice is lead by the professional conductor Frederik Verhooghe and pianist Michiel Ballhaus. The Staar has its own two soloists, bass-baritone Bèr Schellings and tenor Fabio Verga.
‘The Staar’ – in its own region the most commonly used name – organises a complete concert programme independently, together with its soloist(s). The choir gives about 15 concerts a year in theatres and churches mostly in the Netherlands and Belgium, but also elsewhere. The choir performed in many European countries and even in Canada. ‘The Staar’ also performs at important ceremonies and was guest-choir at concerts and Tv-recordings by André Rieu. Several times ‘the Staar’ was hosted by public broadcasting organisation MAX. These tv appearances resulted in much positive publicity for the choir.