International Competitors 2014
Chamber Choir of the University of Tartu, Estonia
The Chamber Choir of the University of Tartu has brought joy to audiences in hundreds of concerts and performances. Since its foundation in 1971, it has had more than 500 members, mostly students and alumni of the University of Tartu, but also students from other universities and choral enthusiasts. The choir has always been unique and one of the liveliest choirs in Estonia. It has given many choral concerts and participates enthusiastically in Estonia’s national song celebrations in Tallinn.
The choir is an energetic student and concert choir, often performing at festive events in the university and Tartu. Its repertoire focuses in particular on the works of Estonian classical composers (especially Mart Saar, Ester Mägi, Cyrillus Kreek and Veljo Tormis).
Since 2001, the choir has been conducted by Triin Koch, who is considered to be one of Estonia’s most talented choral conductors. Her musical interpretation has been admired at many competitions in Estonia and abroad, and she has often conducted choirs at Estonia’s national song celebrations. In addition to the Chamber Choir of the University of Tartu, Triin also conducts the Academic Women’s Choir of the University of Tartu and their alumnae choir in Tallinn.
Choir of the Maritime University of Szczecin, Poland
The Choir of the Maritime University of Szczecin was set up in February 2003. It was created by Sylwia Fabiańczyk-Makuch PhD, who is also the choir’s conductor and artistic director. The ensemble brings together students and graduates of the Maritime University but also welcomes students from different universities. The repertoire includes a vast range of sacred, folk and popular music. In recognition of the University’s specific character and the region’s maritime tradition, the choir also performs maritime songs arranged for it by prominent Polish composers such as Marek Jasiński and Romuald Twardowski.
The choir takes part in important cultural events in the West Pomeranian region of Poland and the country as a whole. It has won numerous awards at choral festivals and competitions, including 1st prize at the most prestigious choral music festival in Poland, Legnica Cantat (2013), 1st prize at the International Choral Festival in Ohrid, Macedonia (2013), and Golden Diploma at the International Festival of Contemporary Choral Music, Canti veris Praga, in the Czech Republic (2014).
The choir has taken part in numerous international festivals in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Macedonia and Czech Republic. It has recorded two CDs of maritime music, ‘Hail to the Seas’ and ‘The Play of the Waves, and in November 2013 it appeared on ‘Under the Snow Cover’, a CD of Christmas carols from all over the world.
Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir, Wales
Froncysyllte (pronounced vron-cuss-ulth tay) is a small village at the eastern entrance to the Vale of Llangollen. In 1946, as a gesture to ‘International Peace’, the people of Llangollen (four miles down the road) decided to ask former enemies to come together in the friendly competitive atmosphere of a traditional Welsh Eisteddfod. Invitations went out in 1947 and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod was born. The Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir was formed that year and it has been a competitive choir ever since.
Wins in various Eisteddfods in Wales culminated in ‘The Double’, when the choir won first place in both the National Eisteddfod of Wales and the International Musical Eisteddfod in 1977. The choir maintained its record of success in competition into the new millennium and has toured extensively in both Europe and North America.
Now in its 65th year, the choir has had four excellent conductors and now has a first-class conductor in the person of Leigh Mason, who took over the baton in 2010. The choir looks forward to continued progress and success as one of the most distinguished male voice choirs in a nation renowned throughout the world for producing male voice choirs of the highest quality.
Kammerchor Alumni Heidelberg, Germany
In 2003 the Kammerchor Alumni was founded by former members of the Kammerchor am Kurfürst-Friedrich-Gymnasium, which had received numerous awards as one of the best youth choirs in the world, after winning the German Choir Competition in 1994. As the members of the Alumni live in different parts of Germany, they meet for intensive weekends to work on specific projects.
Conductor Werner Gloeggler focuses on achieving a pure a capella tone, which he cultivates in varied programmes covering all styles and eras. The choir compels the audience with its exceptional ensemble and intense interpretations. It also experiments with new and innovative forms of presentation in its concerts.
Because of its high artistic quality, the choir is often invited to participate in prestigious international competitions, such as Maribor and Tours.
Recently it won 1st prize at the Tonen Festival in the Netherlands and the conductor, Werner Gloeggler, was awarded the prize for ‘Conductor of the Festival’. Most recently, the choir qualified for the 2013 Grand Prix Final at the 12th International Choral Competition in Maribor.
Ondrášek Czech Youth Choir, Czech Republic
Ondrášek, a choir from Nový Jičín, was founded by Václav Ptáček in spring 1967 as a synonym for free and open-minded youth. In 1992 Josef Zajíček, one of the first members of the choir, assumed the conductor’s baton, signalling the start of a new chapter in the choir’s life. At home, the choir cooperates with many of the Czech Republic’s major artists and composers, and it organises music programmes for children and young people, including young conductors. It has been involved in many radio and television programmes, including several series of music programmes for young people for Czech Television. It has also recorded 6 CDs.
The choir is currently part of the Elementary School of Fine Arts in Nový Jičín, and it has three preparatory sections and two concert ensembles. It is run by the Society of Friends of the Children’s Choir Ondrášek, chaired by Mrs Svatava Lenartová.
Ondrášek has been awarded many prizes and awards for its long–standing work in the fields of culture and education. It has won a multitude of prizes at international choir competitions and festivals, including Arezzo (1995), Llangollen (1996), Prague (2000), Valletta (2007), Bratislava (2008 & 2012), Amiens (2008) and Guangzhou (2012). It has also visited Japan (1998), South Africa (2000) and most European countries.
The Park Singers, Ireland
The Park Singers was founded by Seán Creamer in 1970, taking its name from the Phoenix Park School, where it was based in its early days. Many of its members were pupils of Seán Creamer from an early age in the National Children’s Choir and Dublin Secondary School Girls’ Choir and wished to carry their love of choral singing into adulthood.
Órla Gillan took over as conductor in 2009. Órla is a teacher and one of the musical directors of the National Children’s Choir. Since taking charge of the Park Singers, she has led them to numerous successes in performances at home and abroad, including winning Best Female Choir at the North Wales Choral Festival in 2010 and Choir of the Festival at the Cork International Choral Festival in 2011.
The choir has also picked up awards at the Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil, Navan Choral Festival and Mayo International Choral Festival. The Park Singers performs a wide range of repertoire and has a particular interest in performing works by contemporary composers. In 2008 the choir collaborated on the music for an independent Irish film One Christmas Eve. It has also recorded its first CD, Regardez Le Chef.
Portadown Male Voice Choir, N. Ireland
Portadown Male Voice Choir was formed in 1926. In the early years the choir performed mainly in concerts and sacred recitals, but soon acquired a taste for music festivals and competitions. It now has an enviable record of success in competition in England, Wales, Dublin, Arklow, Sligo, Bangor and Cork International Festival, where it has won the Male Voice section on numerous occasions. In October 2010 the choir emerged as the top male voice choir in the inaugural Isle of Man Festival of Choirs.
With many radio and TV performances to its credit, the choir was chosen by Phil Coulter to launch the Irish rugby anthem, ‘Irelands Call’, on RTE. It has toured West Germany, Canada and the US, and has appeared at Hillsborough Castle and Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland.
For the past 35 years the choir has been led by its Musical Director, Gordon Speers, who has further expanded the choir’s huge repertoire to include operatic choruses, songs from the shows and well known hymns. Gordon, an accomplished bass singer in his own right, has won a whole range of awards, including the premier prize at Portadown Festival, the Rose Bowl at Morecambe Festival and the Blackpool Festival Award for Songs by British Composers.
University of Primorska Academic Choir, Slovenia
The University of Primorska Academic Choir (APZ UP) performs under the auspices of the Student Organisation of the University of Primorska (ŠOUP). The choir consists of about 50 students of the University of Primorska, along with some external choral enthusiasts, and is led by the conductor, Ambrož Čopi, and the assistant conductor, Andreja Hrvatin.
The choir embraces the complete range of music genres and styles, from Renaissance to modern music. It focuses in particular on compositions by composers from the Primorska Region and rarely performed works and pieces by the younger generation of Slovenian composers.
The choir gives concerts in Slovenia and abroad, and it has competed successfully in national and international competitions. In the Slovenian national choral competition ‘Naša Pesem’, Maribor, the choir won four golden plaques (2007, 2010, 2012, 2014) for mixed choir and one golden plaque for female choir (2014). It has also won prizes at Prèveza, Greece (2006), Varna, Bulgaria (2008), Cantonigròs, Spain (2011), Vilnius, Lithuania (2012), Split, Croatia (2012), Milazzo, Italy (2013) and Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013). It also reached the 2009 final of the European Grand Prix of Europe for Choral Singing in Tours.
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