The Academic Choir France Prešeren Kranj was founded in 1969. Throughout the choir’s fruitful period of existence, several world-famous names have cooperated with the choir, including Uroš Lajovic, Fabio Luisi, Eric Ericson, and John Rutter. The choir frequently participates in both domestic and international festivals and competitions. The most visible recent achievements include two gold medals from the competition in Olomouc, Czech Republic, a golden award in Bratislava, Slovakia. Its most recent competition were “Singing World International 2010” in St. Petersburg, where the choir won first place in the mixed choirs category, and the overall winner of the competition Vasovia Cantat 2011 in Poland. Since 2013 the choir has been lead and conducted by Fernando Pablo Mejias, who began his prosperous musical career in his native Mendoza. Since 1998 he has been a professional musician in Slovenia and a conductor of several Slovene choirs with whom he has been achieving great successes all around Europe.
This incarnation of the Oratorio Choir of the St. Mark’s Church was founded in 1998 by Neven Valent (1964–2012), reviving the tradition of the original choir of the same name founded in 1920 that was dissolved for political reasons in 1946. In the last 25 years the choir has been led by notable Croatian conductors, such as Vladimir Kranjčević, Ivan Repušić and Tomislav Fačini. In 2011 the Choir was taken over by Jurica Petar Petrač, the current conductor. Along with singing in liturgical services and constant cherishing of sacral repertoire, the Choir lays particular emphasis on performing pieces of Croatian composers. The Choir won first and second place awards at various national, as well as international competitions (Köln, Neerpelt, Lago di Garda, Zadar). Recently the choir won two golden bands at the International Choir Festival Bratislava Cantat in 2013.
The men’s choir of Dombresson has more than a hundred years of history, founded in the Val de Ruz region, aimed at exploring and discovering the world of choral singing. In 1995 they made history again by appointing the first woman to conduct an all-male choir in the Suisse romande region. The choir members work together to cultivate the art of friendship, and search for a perfection of emotions through choral singing. Though historically the repertoire is in French, the choir has more recently moved into exploring a great variety of composers, languages, and countries, changing the style of singing as they travel. Gospel, sacred music, and orthodox liturgy performed in churches, street festivals full of variety song, traditional folk songs while on local holidays, and world and folk music in concert. They have performed in the International Choral Festival of Nice, all around Switzerland, and at a local Festival that attracted crowds of up to 10,000 delighted spectators.
One of the oldest choirs in Sweden to sing such a wide range of material that includes opera, jazz, folk, sacred and profane, the Christianstad’s Motet Choir has been conducted by Lena Ekman Frisk for the last eleven years. She has used this time to develop the choir’s musical expression, winning first prize at the International Warsaw Choral Festival in 2007, and the Silver Band in the Festival of Christmas Music, Bratislava 2010. In 2013 the Choir celebrated its 150th anniversary with a CD recording and a concert that included original compositions written in collaboration with local poets. A reward for all the hard work came on October 22, when Kristianstad’s largest newspaper awarded Christianstad’s Motet Choir its Cultural Prize for 2013.
Lena Ekman Frisk received her degree of Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the Malmö Academy of Music and now serves as Senior Lecturer in choral music at that Academy. Currently she conducts Christianstad’s Motet Choir and the Academy’s Women’s Choir.
This 30-strong student choir from the city of Groningen has strong ties with the local university, and is currently conducted by David van Roijen, who sang in Gica when he was a student himself at the Prinx Claus Conservatory, graduating in 2008. When Gica was established in 1965 it was initially part of a Christian student association, requiring the women to wear a green hat and the men to be (at least partly) bald! Since then, they have become an independent a cappella student choir, regularly performing concerts on festive occasions for the University of Groningen. Recent highlights include a performance of Carmina Burana in collaboration with the student orchestra in 2009, a unique mini-concert for Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands during her reign, and for Desmond Tutu on the conferral of his honorary doctorate in 2012. Their name is derived from ‘gaudete in cantado’, Latin for ‘rejoice in singing’.
DaCapo choir was formed in 2004 in the town of Køge, 40 km south of Copenhagen. Their 45 members come from various backgrounds, many of them with professional singing experience, including teaching, but there are also amateurs whose first love is singing. The variety of styles taken on by the choir are always challenging, and come from a wide range of classical music through to more experimental rhythmical matieral. They often perform a cappella, but also have performed concerts with bands and musical groups of all sizes, inclding their staging of Duke Ellington’s Concert of Sacred Music with a big band. They have performed tours all around Denmark and on the Faroe Islands. Their conductor, Poul Erik Juhl, founded the choir with the very best local singers, and he undertakes directorship of this choir while also teaching music, and has long been a conductor of adult’s and children’s choirs.
Originally formed 34 years ago from a sextet of ladies singing in a parlour for their own entertainment, the Esk Community Choir has gone from strength to strength, growing their small choir into a tour-de-force that regularly stages musical dramas and theatre restaurants that transform their venue from the familiar to the fantastical. Their long-standing director Alexis Fitzgerald brings her own musical skills and the expertise gained at many choral workshops and Big Sing events, aiming at musical excellence and honing the performance standards of the choir. By 1992 the addition of male voices and a series of concerts within the greater Brisbane area saw their abilities rise with their confidence, and the choir began participating in Eisteddfods (national competitions) and a year later staged their first musical production, Oklahoma! Since then, various productions include South Pacific, Murder in the Music Hall, and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, while international tours have taken in Vienna, Prague and Verona.
Kfar-Yona Choir has a twenty year history, and consists of 25 singers between the ages of 40 and 65, all from Kfar-Yona and the surrounding area. Their repertoire includes choral arrangements of a variety of Israeli and classical pieces. Their prize-winning history includes winning Silver in their category at the International Smetana Choir Competition Litomyšl, Czech Republic in 1997, and the Silver award in the Israeli competition Shirat Hayamim in 1998. More recently, tours and competitions have taken in such countries as Italy and Switzerland. Their conductor, Zvi Kaminer, is an accomplished music practitioner, conductor, composer and arranger, and holds a degree from the Music Adademy in Tel-Aviv in conducting and composition. He currently leads seven different choirs, whose repertoires range from Israeli pop music to more standard classical choral music.
This all-female choir from the capital city of Israel is based in the Beit Tami Community Centre, at the heart of Tel Aviv. Numbering around 30, the members come from all walks of life united by their love of music and especially vocal music. The choir is a member of the Israeli Choir Organisation Hallel and regularly participates in their workshops and choir meetings. The choir’s repertoire includes various classical pieces for choir from an historical range, including Christian and Jewish sacred music, as well as other pieces by Rachmaninov, Chesnakov, Elgar, Grieg, Yeheskel Brown, Levandovski and many more. Their conductor, Ira Kalechman, was born in Moscow and came to Israel in 1991 to continue and develop her career as a conductor. She attended the Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow, and has worked as a singer and conductor in many different musical both in Russia and Israel.
Liederkranz Malsch in its current format was formed in 1967, drawing its members from the male voice choir and female voice choir, founded in 1871 and 1937 respectively. They perform a relatively traditional mix of sacred and secular choral music. Today it performs as a mixed-voice adult choir that sometimes combines with the children’s choir and youth choir, as part of its community responsibility for music education and social development of the children. A side-project modern choir was established in 2000 with a modern pop repertoire, with a high standard paired with a lot of fun a great team spirit! Matthias Barth has been the conductor of the children’s choir since 1984, moving to the mixed adult choir in 2000 when he also formed the modern choir. Past achievements include performing to over 900 people locally, and tours that include Venice, Vienna, California, and Oregon.
The Oslo choir was founded in 1993, celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a concert in Oslo held in conjunction with two other choirs under the title banner Swing Jazz & Choir Music. Their current conductor, Ms. Maria Haug, has been with Odins Ravner since September 2012, and also conducts two other choirs, both of which appeared in the Anniversary concert. The choir has approximately 32 members, and has recently toured, including the Paisley Music Festival in Scotland in 2010, and the Krakow International Song festival in June 2012. More locally, in Norway they have organised their own song festivals, with invited choirs from Oslo and all over Norway.
Skedsmo Chamber Choir was founded in 1989, and in 2014 celebrates its 25th anniversary. The choir is affiliated with the church of Skedsmo outside Oslo, where the choir’s conductor from its inception, Gjermund Bjørklund, is the cantor. It currently has 25 singers. In addition to singing in the church at worship services, the choir also gives concerts, mostly sacred but also secular, and sometimes in collaboration with other choirs or musicians. The choir has a varied repertoire, basically a cappella music from classical church music to folk songs and jazz, but also accompanied church music works with a smaller orchestra or even a big band, like Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert. Since 2008, the choir has participated in several choir competitions, both national and international, with good results, and achieved in 2010 the Golden band and was the winner of the chamber choir category in the International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music in Bratislava, Slovakia.
From the small town of Nieul-sur-Mer on the French Atlantic cost, this choir was initially formed of just 12 people back in 1996. Aside from the well-known solfège note names, its name is also taken from the nearby Isle of Ré. Recently the choir has swelled to around 70 choristers, and all members enjoy their repertoire from chants and songs, from traditional sacred music to modern gospel arrangements, from classical to contemporary popular music, and also taking in a few Irish ballads. They have taken in tours outside of France, including the International Choir Music and Choir Competition in Verona, where they were awarded a prize in 2004, and Prague in 2008.
Vocal Choral Studio Istok is made up of three girls’ choirs that have combined for the Cork International Choral Festival. The largest group is Children’s Choir Istok, who performs a varied repertoire ranging from folk and classical to contemporary compositions. Youth Chamber Choir Istok was created in 2010, and the group of nine has participated in local, national and international festivals. The smallest ensemble, A Piena Voce, was founded in 2012, and includes both pupils and teachers from Vocal Choral Studio Istok. Between the three groups, they have performed in local, national and international competitions and festivals, toured Russia and Europe, and included the finest concert halls of St. Petersburg in their venues. The Studio itself was founded in 2000 with a dedication to preserving the traditions of St. Petersburg school choirs, and instilling a love for classical Russian and European music, and for this Festival will feature the conductors Angela Zingarenko, Maria Shister, Elena Pavlova, and Elizabeth Timoeva.