The Pastoureaux (French: ‘shepherd boys’), also known as the Petits Chanteurs de Waterloo, are a boys’ choir established in 1974 in Waterloo, Belgium. The choir is composed entirely of boys, aged 7 to 14, who sing the soprano and alto parts. They are supported by young men who sing the tenor and bass parts. With more than 1,000 concerts given in Belgium and on tour around the world, the Pastoureaux have acquired considerable experience and an international reputation.
Since Christmas 1974, the Pastoureaux traditionally perform a series of concerts during the Christmas season, in Brussels and Wallonia. Their numerous concerts include collaborations with artists such as the famous bass-baritone José van Dam. The Pastoureaux are regularly guests of private events, including most notably performances at the Royal Palace of Brussels and the Royal Castle of Laeken as well as their collaboration to the official show for the changeover to the euro on 31 December 2001. On several occasions, Pastoureaux boy soloists have taken part in opera productions, at the National Opera of Belgium ‘La Monnaie’ (Brussels) and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York).
The Pastoureaux have performed at various music festivals, in Belgium and abroad (Poznań, Lake Como, Vienna, Salzburg). In 2017, they represented Belgium at the first ever Eurovision Choir of the Year contest in Riga, Latvia. In 2018, they were invited to join a major international production of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, including a concert at the Berliner Philharmonie, alongside the German and French national youth orchestras and choirs from England, Germany and Poland.
In recent years, the Pastoureaux have been regularly asked to perform in film and television productions. In 2022, they were also invited by the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra to sing the music of the film The Lord of the Rings live during the film screening.
The Pastoureaux have an wide-ranging repertoire. It includes not only works of the great classical masters but also those of older or more modern ones, as well as some lesser-known pieces from the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Their most recent recordings includes Noël!, a selection of Christmas carols; Around the World, featuring a wide range of folk songs collected by the Pastoureaux during their many travels; and an album entirely devoted to the works of Gabriel Fauré. Their latest release, recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, presents two masterworks by Vivaldi, Gloria RV 589 and Dixit Dominus RV 595.
Musical work and group spirit are at the heart of the Pastoureaux’s project. In practical terms, choristers meet weekly in sectional rehearsals and twice a month in tutti rehearsals. In summer, the Pastoureaux go on a international concert tour. They’ve been to Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Singer, choirmaster and music teacher, Philippe Favette devotes all his energy to serving music.
Music has been his passion since childhood. At eight he had a season ticket to the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, his home city. At ten he joined the music theory class at the Conservatoire Royal, and at fourteen he was already singing bass in a “Maîtrise” or choir school. He went on to join the chorus of Liege’s opera house Opéra Royal de Wallonie, where he signed his first contract as a professional chorister, a role he would soon share with music teaching.
Gaining higher degrees in singing and chamber music from the Conservatoire Royal de Liège, he became a member of the Collegium Vocale in Ghent, singing under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe. He went on to work with a variety of ensembles in France, the Netherlandsand Belgium, including the Namur Chamber Choir and Amsterdam Baroque, with whom he collaborates frequently.
As a soloist or in ensembles ranging from voice quartets to chamber choirs, he has taken part in many concerts and recordings under conductors such asLeonardo García Alarcón, Ton Koopman, Sigiswald Kuijken, Louis Langrée, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Marc Minkowski, Christophe Rousset, Jordi Savall, Jos Van Immerseel, Guy van Waas …
At the same time, he has conducted several choirs and studied choir and orchestral conducting with Pierre Cao and Denis Menier at the Ecole internationale de Direction de Chœur de Namur and in masterclasses with Frieder Bernius and Volker Hempfling.
He was appointed Artistic Director of the Pastoureaux choir in September 2006.
It was at Les Pastoureaux that Xavier Devillers discovered choral singing when he was recruited there at age 9. An alto chorister and soloist, he remained in the choir until his voice changed. Little did he know then that at age 18, he would be called back by Philippe Favette, now music director, to become assistant conductor.
A four-time graduate of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel and the Université catholique de Louvain, Xavier’s skills as a choral conductor are rooted in a multidisciplinary training that ranges from Germanic languages and literatures to singing, and also includes musicology, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and conducting. He also gained valuable insight from master classes with renowned musicians such as Bob Chilcott, Thomas Hofereiter and Guy Van Waas.
Meanwhile, Xavier has continued to sing in various ensembles. Among others, he gained experience under the direction of Leonardo García Alarcón, Lorenzo Donati, Mikko Sidoroff and Maria van Nieukerken. Several times selected to participate in the EuroChoir, the European youth choir, with which he performed in Italy, Slovenia, Finland and Estonia, he was entrusted with the role of assistant conductor during one of those sessions. In 2017, he was selected as one of the founding members of BEvocaL, the national youth choir of Belgium. Since 2022, Xavier sings in the Chœur de Chambre de Liège under the direction of Joris Derder. A reserve chorister at the Opéra royal de Wallonie, he also works with the Vlaams Radiokoor.
As a soloist, Xavier specialises in oratorio. His experience includes Dvořák’s Mass in D major, Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus, RV 595, and Mozart’s Requiem.
Besides his musical activities, Xavier was an assistant in musicology at the Université catholique de Louvain for six years. His diverse background and international experience earned him to be elected in 2021 to the board of directors of the European Choral Association.