The Ensemble vocale Calycanthus was founded in 1997 by its present conductor Pietro Ferrario. It is formed by choristers from the Milan, Varese and Como regions, all having important choral experience, and it is based in Parabiago, near Milan.

The repertoire consists of a large range of sacred and secular music for a cappella choir (dating from the Renaissance to today, with particular attention to contemporary music), spirituals, European folk music, and also jazz and pop music, the latter presented in refined arrangements. These ones have evoked great interest and appreciation some years ago by Ward Swingle, the famous founder of the Swingle Singers.
The basic singers are incorporated in an enlarged group focused on various choral projects since 2015.

Besides doing concerts throughout Italy and abroad, with positive feedback from public and critics, the group obtained during the years a series of prizes, summed up here in chronological order:

- diploma with honour at the international competition T.I.M. (Torneo Internazionale di Musica).

- absolute winner (golden sash) of the XIX National Choral Competition of Quartiano (Italy) in the spirituals category. Moreover, special prizes were obtained for absolute best average vote in all categories, best absolute vote for a single piece, and best conductor.

- At the 41st edition of the prestigious International Choral Competition "Seghizzi" of Gorizia the second prize for Italian choirs in the category "Vocal Groups" was obtained. The first prize in the category "Gospel" was obtained during the final of the 14th Exhibition for Popular and Polyphonic Choral Ensembles of the Province of Milan, which was held at the "Dal Verme" Theatre in Milan (2002). During this exhibition the highest vote amongst the 54 participating choirs was obtained.

- absolute first prize (golden sash) in the category "Religious Music - Mixed Choirs" at the 5th International Choir Competition "In...canto sul Garda" in Riva del Garda (Italy). In this occasion the conductor received a special prize for his artistic qualities. Also in the pop-modern category high grades in the Golden Sash were received.

- the prestigious first prize was obtained at the 22nd "Guido d'Arezzo" National Polyphonic Competition in Arezzo. In 2006 Calycanthus collaborated again with the "Guido d'Arezzo" foundation as laboratory choir.

- In May the Ensemble obtained the 14th Grand Prix "Efrem Casagrande" in Vittorio Veneto (Italy).

- first prize during the finals of the 19th Popular and Polyphonic Choir Festival of the province of Milan, held at the Dal Verme Theatre, with the highest vote amongst the 52 participating choirs. 

Calycanthus has been the only Italian group accepted at the prestigious 44th Montreux Choral Festival (Switzerland). 47th International choir competition "Seghizzi" of Gorizia: 2° prize in the category "choral elaborations of pop and jazz music", FENIARCO prize as the best italian choir, special prize as the best chamber choir in the competition.

2012 - First prize in the 8th National Choral Competition "Città di Biella" in the category "ensembles - vocal groups".

2018 - Second prize ex-aequo (first prize not assigned) in the 9th National Choral Competition "Lago Maggiore" (Verbania), in the mixed choirs category. 2020 - "Giovanni Rossi" special prize for the choice and performance of a contemporary piece ("Locus iste" by Paul Mealor) in the Sacred Music Choral Competition for live videos "Bobbio Sacra 2020".                                                                                                                                            In December of 2007 a CD entitled "Aurora", with contemporary choral music, was released, and recorded by the Bottega Discantica label from Milan. The new CD "So pop, so jazz", with pop-jazz a cappella arrangements was released by SMC label from Ivrea in December 2012.   World famous composers, such as the Lithuanian Vytautas Miškinis, Rihards Dubra from Latvia and Ivo Antognini from Switzerland have written compositions especially for Calycanthus and its conductor, which have been premiered in 2008, 2009 and 2021. The great italian composer Azio Corghi dedicated his work "Cori di Ecuba" to Calycanthus and its conductor, which was premiered in Biella (Perosi International Academy of Music) in 2013. Other performances of the same work in 2013: Ivrea (Teatro Giacosa), Milano (Teatro Elfo Puccini).   Concerts worth mentioning are the performances in Milano at the Abbey of Chiaravalle (2003), at the Basilica of S. Ambrogio (2004, 2005 and 2007), and S. Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore (2006),  S. Bernardino alle Monache and Auditorium of Milano (2008). In 2005, the choir participated at the 10th "Città di Roma" International Secular Choir Music Festival in Rome and at the Choral Music Festival in Sassari.    2004 and 2006 - Great success was achieved with the participation of the Ensemble at the 3rd International Festival of Polyphonic Music "Cori in coro" in Salerno, at the 20th International Polyphonic Choral Festival in L'Aquila, at the 3rd Polyphonic Choral Festival in Livorno, at the special concert organized by the "Fondazione Guido d'Arezzo" in Arezzo.
2009 - The choir participated in the XXVIII edition of "Le Chiavi d'Argento" Choral Festival in Chiavenna, and in the XVI International Polyphonic Festival in Atri - Abruzzo.

2010 - The group was invited to the 37th edition of the International Polyphonic Meeting "Città di Fano", one of the most prestigeous choral festivals in Italy, as well as organized a workshop with the composer Vytautas Miškinis, in collaboration with Coro Dalakopen. The composer himself conducted both choirs in Legnano, in a memorable concert entirely based on his compositions.

2011 - The group was invited for the third time at the 25th edition of the Spanish International Choral Festival "Encuentro Coral Ciudad de Torrevieja” (Alicante), after 2004 and 2006.  

2012 - Participation as a choir-laboratory for the contemporary repertoire, at the course and the final concert of the three-year stage in choral conducting, organized by Milano Choral Academy (artistic direction: Marco Berrini)

2013 - Concerts at the Perosi International Academy of Music in Biella, Gacosa Theater in Ivrea, Teatro dell'Elfo in Milan, with the world première of "Cori di Ecuba", by Azio Corghi. 

2014 - Concert at the Vicenza Conservatory; stage with former member of the King's Singers Stephen Connolly.

2015 - Project of the complete performance of Frank Martin's Mass for double choir.

2016 - Project choral works of Eric Whitacre and Ivo Antognini. Partecipation at the International Festival "MiTo Settembre Musica", Milano 2016.  

2017 - Concerts for the musical festivals "I Venerdì di maggio" - Bergamo, Solevoci Festival InCanto a Varese, "Di cori un altro Po" (Emilia Romagna), concert in Parabiago for the 20th anniversary of activity of the group.

2018 - Partecipation at the International Festival "MiTo Settembre Musica", Milano 2018.

2019 - Project of the complete performance of Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger's "Cantus Missae" for double choir (1878).

2021 - Virtual choir world première of "Regina Caeli" by Ivo Antognini, and european première of the same piece in a live concert. World première of "Beati mortui" by Silvia Bianchera. Focused project for the performance of "komm, Jesu komm" by Bach for double choir.