Leiden English Choir

About us

About us

The Choir


Leiden English Choir is a dynamic and international group of people of different nationalities and age groups. We regularly welcome international students who are in Leiden for a period of time as members of the choir. Rehearsals are largely held in English. We give at least two concerts each year in and around Leiden. One in the Christmas period with, among other Christmas Carols from around the world. And a classical or modern concert in the spring of the year. We sing works by Purcell, Britten, Vaughan Williams and Rutter, but also Pärt, Gjeilo, Vasks, Händel, Fauré , Rossini, Schütz, Lotti, Byrd and others.
Several times we have collaborated with another choir or orchestra. With symphony orchestra Sonante from Wageningen we performed the Requiem by Mozart during a May 4 commemoration in Wageningen. In 2019 we participated with the Toonkunstorkest and 3 other choirs in the world premiere of the oratory `Voyage to Creation’ by Jeppe Moulijn.
Social and serious We work hard and take rehearsals and our music seriously – always trying to achieve the highest possible quality. We are also a social group of people that enjoy spending time together – weekly visits to the local cafe after rehearsal, a monthly ‘borrel’ organized in turn by each of the voice groups in the choir, and post-concert parties to share in the after glow.

Our conductor

Paula Andrea Torres Ayala is a musical conductor, born in Colombia in 1972, who lived in Chile for more than 20 years. She recently moved to the Netherlands and has been settled in Utrecht since May this year. She obtained her degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Chile in 2003 and her master’s degree in Music Performance in Orchestral Conducting in 2020. She has studied with prestigious masters of the Colombian choral scene such as Alejandro Zuleta, Jorge Zorro and Julián Gómez and in Chile with Guido Minoletti. She has perfected her studies in this specialty with renown Argentinean conductors Néstor Andrenacci and Néstor Zadoff and taken part in masterclasses of Robert Sund (Sweden), Felicia Pérez (Cuba), Werner Pfaff (Germany), Josep Prats (Spain) and Krista Audere (Latvia). Currently she is studying at the HKU Conservatory in the Master of Music programme in Choral Conducting with Professor Rob Vermeulen. In the orchestral area she studied under the instruction of David del Pino Klinge (Peru / Germany) and Nicolas Rauss (Switzerland). For almost 20 years she has taught in bachelor and master’s degree programs, linked to educational institutions such as the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Universidad de Chile, Universidad Mayor and Universidad Alberto Hurtado. She has developed a remarkable artistic career as conductor of renowned choirs in Chile, among which are the Ensemble Res Nova (founder), Coro Bellas Artes la Universidad Alberto Hurtado´s Camber Choir and Ensemble Ikaros (founder). She has also worked as a workshop leader and guest conductor of Chilean groups such as Femme Vocal and abroad of the Choir of the Universidad de los Andes (Bogota – Colombia), Coro Magno de la Universidad del Valle (Cali – Colombia), Coro de la Municipalidad de Puerto Madryn and Coro Nacional de Jóvenes de la República de Argentina, and recently with the Leeuwarden Kamerkoor in the Netherlands. Exploring new and diverse choral repertoires, she has performed concerts in Chile and abroad in countries such as Colombia, Peru, Argentina, England, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Israel. Her fruitful activity in front of the University Alberto Hurtado´s Chamber Choir has earned her important recognitions by the national critics in Chile thanks to her contribution to chamber opera after several premieres in important music halls in Chile. Her orchestral experience includes her tenure as a conductor of youth and university ensembles in academic contexts. Between 2018 and 2020 she was associated to the Foundation of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of the Government of Chile (FOJI) serving as chief conductor of the Regional Youth Symphony Orchestra of Coquimbo. She has been guest conductor of the Music Institute of the Catholic University’s Symphonic Orchestra and ensemble, and of the professional Classical Orchestra of the University of Santiago de Chile. In January 2024 she started as conductor of the Leiden English Choir.

Our accompanist

Aafko Boonstra

Aafko Boonstra is a conductor and pianist. He completed his piano studies with Michael Mizrahi (Lawrence Conservatory of Music) and Sepp Grotenhuis (Koninklijk Conservatorium) alongside a major in mathematics at the Universiteit Leiden. At the moment, Aafko pursues a PhD in forensic statistics at the Vrije Universiteit. He is still active as a conductor and chamber musician.