Congratulations to E Stuudio Youth Choir from Estonia, this year’s winners of the 60th Fleischmann International Trophy Competition. They gave a magical performance on Saturday night of the Fleischmann competition and enthralled audiences for the duration of their time at the Festival. Congratulations also to Spiritus Chamber Choir from Canada who come second, and Mornington Singers from Ireland who came third.
Congratulations are also due to those who won special awards – and for 2015 we look forward to welcoming more choirs – watch this space! A big a think you to those who made 2014 such a special year.
Agria Swara choral group is made up from the student body of Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia, regularly holding concerts open to the public and for on-campus activities such as graduation ceremonies. The 2002 milestone concert ‘The Odyssey’, the first by the choir to feature Western classical music, has since become an annual tradition. Currently conducted by Arvin Zeinullah, the baton has previously been held by such prominent people as Victor Purba and Ingrid Maryane Cahya. Agria Swara has proven itself to be one of the most promising students choirs in Indonesia, winning prizes in choir competitions worldwide (Wernigerode, Germany 2005; Budapest, Hungary 2007; and Rimini, Italy 2009).
A Fenno-Swedish male student choir from the Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, Brahe Djäknar was founded in 1937 and has been led by conductors John Rosas and Gottfrid Gräsbeck, and is currently under the leadership of Ulf Långbacka.
Their annual concerts include a Christmas concert for the first Sunday of Advent, and on 30th April to celebrate spring’s coming—a concert that has been broadcast live on national radio and TV for many years. The Christmas concert is performed in conjunction with their sister choir Florakören (winner of the FITC 2007) and the Åbo Akademi University symphony orchestra, Akademiska Orkestern. Further afield, tours have taken in North America, much of Europe, and Japan. Since the year 2000 they have performed in three choral competitions, including a win in Barcelona in 2000, and a mark of two gold stamps in Tampere in 2009.
Chamber Choir Cantinovum is the versatile and ambitious choir of the JAMK University of Applied Sciences, conducted by Rita Varonen. Since 1989, the 30 or so members of the choir have delivered music with a passion, from folk music to sacred music, spanning from the Renaissance to modern compositions. They have often performed world premieres of music specially composed for the choir, and their three published albums contain many of these pieces. Their touring history takes in the USA (in 2005), Rome (2007), and Slovakia, where they won first place prizes at the Banska Bystrica Academy Choir Competition in 2009. As well as purely choral performances, they have worked with the Sinfonia Jyväskylä.
Varonen has been the conductor since 1993, and is currently Senior Lecturer of Choir Conducting at the University. She has been awarded several choral conducting prizes including at the Slovakia Cantat Competition, the Academic Banska Bystrica Competition, also in Slovakia, and the Klemetti Prize from Sulasol, the Finnish Association for Singers and Players.
E STuudio Youth Choir was formed in September of 2012, when the already successful and prize-winning E STuudio Girls’ Choir invited local boys with choral experience to join the ranks. Their conductor, Külli Lokko, has 22 years of choral conducting experience, holds a double master’s degree in cultural management and conducting from the University of Tallinn and currently heads the choral department at Heino Eller Conservatory (Tartu, Estonia). Lokko has supervised the choir through their most successful performances, including Best Children’s Choir in Tallinn 2009, Best Youth Choir at the Grieg Choral Competition in Norway in 2009, and tours that have taken in much of Europe and North America. In 2015 the choir is one of only four choirs from around the world that have been invited to perform at the New York Choral Festival, held in Carnegie Hall.
Heep Yunn School & Wah Yan Kowloon Senior Mixed Choir is made up from selected members of the Heep Yun School for girls and Wah Yan College, Kowloon for boys. Under the respective batons of Ms Joyce Yu and Mr Lesley Chan, they stage choral works ranging from the Renaissance to the contemporary. Established in 2009, they won their first championship at the 62nd Hong Kong School Music Festival only a year later. In 2011 they won the First Prize and Gold Medal in their joint category at the Hong Kong International Youth & Children’s Choir Festival, while both schools also won their separate categories.
The choir actively promotes contemporary music and performs local composers’ works, at the invitation of the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild. Their conductor for this Festival is the teacher, conductor and composer, Lesley Chan.
The Kammerchor Alumni was founded in 2003 by former members of the award-winning choir Kammerchor am Kurfurst-Friedrich-Gymnasium. Though the members live all over Germany, they dedicate a few intensive weekends each year to work on particular projects. Conductor Werner Gloegller focusses deliberately on demanding, purely a cappella work, cultivated through varied programmes, compelling the audience through exceptional homogeneity and intense force of interpretation. Concert projects also take chances on new and innovative forms, including the experimental acoustic study of contemporary composers, creating an evening unforgettable to the audience.
The high artistic quality of the choir has led to invitations to join international competitions, including in Maribor and Tours, and winning first prize at the Tonen-Festival in the Netherlands, in 2013. Werner himself was also named ‘Conductor of the Festival’ at the same event.
The Mornington Singers is a mixed-voice choir from Dublin, conducted by Dr Orla Flanagan. She recently received her Doctorate of Music in Performance from the Royal Irish Academy—the first in Ireland to be awarded for choral conducting—and is Assistant Professor of Music at Trinity College, Dublin. The Mornington Singers have placed first in several competitions, including the Navan Choral Festival 2013, where they were also named Choir of the Year, and the Grand Prix at Sligo International Choral Festival in 2013. Specialising in a cappella repertoire, with a particular focus on 20th- and 21st-Century music, the Mornington Singers has established itself as one of Ireland’s leading choirs. Recent highlights have included the Maribor International Choral Competition, a performance at Electric Picnic, concert appearances with Lesley Garrett and Andrea Bocelli, a soundtrack recording for Conor McPherson’s film The Eclipse, and choral workshops with Chanticleer, Dr László Nemes and Prof. Péter Erdei.
The Polifonica Choir is a group of amateur singers founded in 2010, consisting of approximately 20 voices with a vast experience in choral singing. Having been non-competitive guests of the 2013 Cork International Choral Festival, this time they return with a guest conductor, Siamion Klimanau, who is choirmaster of a number of children’s choirs and assistant manager of the students’ choir under the Belarusian State Music Academy. Polifonica Choir believes in creating something beautiful, and it loves music. This love of music and the strong abilities of the choir members are evidenced in their artistry, expressiveness, commitment and versatility. Specialising in Belarusian folk music in settings from concert halls to sitting in the forest, Polifonica’s concerts also take in a diverse repertoire, its members becoming acquainted with a wide range of composers and choral music genres from the classical to the contemporary.
Spiritus Chamber Choir, founded in 1995, is a Calgary-based award-winning amateur choir. Conducted by Timothy Shantz since 2008, it is recognised both nationally and internationally for its high quality performances, excellent musicianship and unique collaborations. The commitment of the 35-40 members to excellence in choral music has led to them being awarded the prestigious Healey Willan Prize in the National Competition for Amateur Choirs, as well as first place in the mixed-voice and contemporary music categories, and the Ministry of Culture prize for the best performance of work by a French composer at the Florilège Vocal de Tours International Choral Competition in France.
Spiritus’s wide-ranging repertoire features composers from Montiverdi to MacMillan, and it regularly commissions works by Canadian composers. Past collaborators include the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Early Music Voices and New Works Calgary, allowing the choir to showcase the strong musical abilities of the singers. Spiritus has produced four recordings to date, including the latest CD, All the Stars Looked Down (2012). The choir has also recorded James MacMillan’s “Seven Last Words from the Cross” for release in the spring of 2014.
St. Stanislav’s Girls’ Choir comprises members attending the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana, with one third of the members changing each year. It fosters a versatile repertoire from a wide historical range of classical choral music to vocal popular music and Slovene folk songs and dances. The choir has also performed several performances of contemporary Slovene composers.
The school itself has a special focus on musical activities—and especially singing—as important contributions to the comprehensive development of a young person; of the five choirs at the Gymnasium, the St. Stanislav’s Girls’ Choir has achieved the most outstanding results, having been awarded a number of gold plaques, first place awards and special honours in national and international competitions. The choir’s greatest success was winning the Euro radio competition Let the People Sing in 2009 in Oslo, Norway, and in 2011 they performed in the Manchester-based BBC New Broadcasting House.
Voci Nuove is a choir made up of young Cork-based singers, conducted by Colm O’Regan. Founded in 2011 the choir presented concerts locally and around Munster and completed its first national concert series, entitled Pitches Be Crazy, in spring 2013. The choir won several categories at Cork’s Feis Maitiu in April 2012, achieving 2nd place in both the Sacred Music and Chamber Choir categories at the 2013 Cork International Choral Festival, and winning the International Competition and National Sacred Music categories at the inaugural City of Derry International Choral Festival in November 2013. Later that month Voci Nuove travelled to Vienna for the choir’s first choral exchange, hosted by Amerlingchor. Colm O’Regan has studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music; CIT Cork School of Music where he completed his Bachelor of Music; and with Teresa Trevisan at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Tartini in Trieste, Italy.