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Chandelier Choir, Indonesia
The UGA Hodgson Singers, USA
Kammerchor des Collegium Musicum Berlin, Germany
Kammerchor der Künste Berlin, Germany
Tutarchela Youth Choir, Georgia
Staccato Chamber Choir, Mexico
Chamber Choir "Sophia", Ukraine
Los Cantantes de Manila, Philippines
St. Nicholas Choir Litija, Slovenia
Vokalensemble des Mächenchors der Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Germany
Männerkammerchor Ensemble 85, Germany
Mieskuoro Euga, Finland
The Chandelier Choir was formed due to the initiative of several choir lovers in Surabaya with the aim to participate in the Brawijaya Choir Festival at the University of Brawijayain Malang. It was established on May 11th2014. The Chandelier Choir consists of choristers from Surabaya, Malang and Jakarta as well as several other cities, who all wish to compete at a national and international level and want to hone and enjoy the process of making music in a choir. While having experienced obstacles in various processes, it is the singers’ strong musical motivations that have prepared the Chandelier Choir for taking part in various national and international competitions. In 2019 the choir won the first place in the Mixed Choir category at the fifth Festival Paduan Suara UBAYA. Most recently, the choir participated in the second Soegijaprananta Choral Festival in 2022, at which it won the first prize in the categories Mixed Choir and Equal Voices and also became the Grand Champion.
Conductor: Ageng Pujarachman
After successfully graduating from his studies in Choral Conducting, Ageng Pujarachman took lessons from various professors and attended different masterclasses. Throughout his career as a conductor, he has been leading several choirs, including the Tetra Youth Choir, Swara Satata Çakti as well as the Chandelier Choir, which he founded in 2014. In 2022, he won the Special Jury Award for the best conducting performance at the 2. Soegijapranata Choral Festival.
The international award-winning UGA Hodgson Singers serve as the premiere, ambassadorial choral ensemble of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia(UGA)in Athens, GA (USA).The choir is comprised of mostly undergraduate music majors studying at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music. In recent years, the choir has been invited to perform for the American Choral Directors Association Southern Division Convention (2014, 2018) and the Georgia Music Educators Association (2011,2017, 2023). The choir has also performed in concerts with Kathleen Battle, The Knights Chamber Orchestra and the Kings Singers, with whom it co-commissioned a choral work by Nico Muhly which had its North American premiere in the Hodgson Hall in January 2018, with the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra and the acclaimed professional British choir, Tenebrae. In February 2020 the choir was featured in concert with Andrea Bocelli and the Atlanta Symphony. The Hodgson Singers are known for their polished and dramatically compelling performances. The choir regularly engages in outreach and recruitment initiatives with high school singers in and around Georgia and relishes the opportunity to share its love of choral music with audiences far and wide.
Conductor: Daniel Bara
Daniel Bara is the John D. Boyd UGA Foundation Professor of Choral Music and the Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia where he oversees seven university choral ensembles as well as the graduate choral conducting programme.
Dr. Bara is in regular demand as a guest conductor and clinician, having conducted all state and honour choirs in 20 states and Carnegie Hall. Prior to his appointment at UGA, Dr. Bara was the Director of Choral Activities at East Carolina University, where he received the UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award and the Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching.
The Collegium Musicum Berlin is the musical home to more than 400 members of the Free University and of the Technical University of Berlin, who either sing in a choir or play in an orchestra or big band alongside their studies, teaching or other work. The 40 strong chamber choir has dedicated itself to a variety of classic a cappella literature; beside pieces of the Renaissance, performances include Romantic pieces, as well as premieres of original works by contemporary composers, which seem as if they have been composed for the choir itself. Donka Miteva has been leading the chamber choir from 2011. Since this time, she has been taking the choir to numerous concerts around Berlin and on concert tours, as well as to various competitions and has been doing so with great success. The choir won awards in Olomouc (CZ) in 2016, at the Grand Prix in Berlin 2017, as well as at the Berlin Choir Conference. The choir has been representing the city-state Berlin at the German Choir Competition in 2018 and became the German Choir Champion in Coblenz in 2022.
Conductor: Donka Miteva
From the age of five, Donka Miteva received her first piano and singing lessons in her hometown Sofia in Bulgaria. After finishing school, she decided against a career as a lawyer and studied Choral and Orchestral Conducting instead, first in Sofia and later under Lutz Herbig in Düsseldorf. Through masterclasses she learned from Gianluigi Gelmetti, Kenneth Kiesler, Benjamin Zander, Jorma Panula and Tilo Lehmann. Donka Miteva’s work has been honoured repeatedly with awards, most recently in 2017 at the Berlin Grand Prix of Nations for best conducting and best interpretation. Between 2007 and 2011, Donka was the choral director and band leader at the Städtischen Bühnen Münster, before being appointed to the top of the Collegium Musicum. Since then, she has been leading the two choirs and two orchestras of the Collegium. She also teaches Conducting at the Berlin University of the Arts and is regularly invited as a juror for national and international competitions.
The Kammerchor der Künste Berlin was founded in 2019 by Prof. Maike Bühle and comprises of music students from the Berlin University of Arts. They sing together with a remarkable enthusiasm for detailed interpretations and with a choral sound that is always homogeneous, yet stylistically variable. With concentration, dedication and passion the singers unanimously work on their joint expression and strive to improve, in order to further refine their sound, as well as to get closer to the heart of each composition. The ensemble has also been touring and performing outside Germany. However, as they are a young ensemble, who mainly developed during the pandemic, such opportunities have been limited. In summer 2022, the Kammerchor der Künste Berlin successfully participated in the Berlin Choir Competition. Subsequently, the choir was invited to a workshop with the RIAS Chamber Choir and its Artistic Director Justin Doyle in March this year.
A variety of productions came out of cooperations with the Sound Engineering course at the Berlin University of Arts. A close cooperation also exists with the department for old music at the Berlin University of Arts, which has been demonstrated in numerous joint concerts and recordings.
Conductor: Maike Bühle
Since the summer term 2018, Maike Bühle has been a professor for Choral Conducting at the Berlin University of the Arts and has been getting students enthusiastic about the choral music of different genre and styles. In 2019, she founded the Kammerchor der Künste Berlin at the University of the Arts, followed by the formation of the Frauenchor der Künste Berlin a year later. The latter will be representing the city-state Berlin at the German Choir Competition in the category “university and state youth choirs”.
Maike Bühle initially finished a degree in School Music at the Berlin University of the Arts, before studying Choral Conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin under Jörg-Peter Weigle. She successfully participated in masterclasses and renowned conducting competitions and has already worked closely with several professional ensembles as well as international radio choirs.
The Tutarchela Youth Choir is a mixed choir, which was founded in 2009 by the conductor of the choir, Tamar Buadze, at the folklore school in Rustavi, Georgia. The choir consists of up to 40 enthusiastic young people who perform traditional Georgian music as well as classical, modern and world folk music.
Each year the choir holds solo concerts under the title "From the Alps to the Caucasus". The Tutarchela Youth Choir also actively participates in festivals and competitions, both in cities, as well as across the country. In 2017 the German embassy in Tbilisi announced a competition dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the friendship between Georgia and Germany. Tutarchela was among the five winners and held five concerts in Georgia under the title of "Liebe ist alles" (love is everything). In March 2020 it hosted a girls’ choir from Hamburg, Germany, and held concerts together. In September 2022, the Tutarchela Youth Choir went to a festival in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, where they performed solo concerts in several cities, including Fulda, Bad Hersfeld and Kassel.
Conductor: Tamar Buadze
Tamar Buadze studied Choral Conducting and Singing under Professor B. Dzneladze at the V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory, where she graduated in 1996. In 2004, she founded the women's choir Tutarchela and created a new generation of the choir called the Tutarchela Youth Choir five years later. Tamar has been conducting masterclasses and seminars in traditional Georgian singing in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and Estonia. Through this work she cooperates with choirs such as the Singfrauen Berlin, the Singfrauen Winterthur and with a community of singers in Freiburg called StimmIMPULS.com. In October 2018, her book "Songbook Georgia" was presented at the book fair in Frankfurt (Germany). In 2021, Tamar started her PHD studies at the faculty for choral conducting at the V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory. She also works as a lecturer.
Staccato is a chamber choir, which has a broad and varied repertoire and mainly focuses on composers of the 20th and 21st century. The choir is part of the department of music at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and is very actively engaged at the university, as well as at cultural festivals across the country and abroad. The choir attended international festivals in 13 countries across Europe and America. It also participated in international competitions, receiving distinguished awards. As part of the Dual Year Mexico-Germany, Staccato performed at several German cities as part of a concert tour in 2016. In 2019, the choir sang at the Mexican premiere of the opera Le Grand Macabre by composer György Ligeti. The choir also presented the Beatles Symphonic Concert with the UNAM Philharmonic Orchestra and performed at the Mexican concerts of singer Björk, as part of her Cornucopia tour in 2019.
Conductor: Marco Antonio Ugalde
Marco Antonio Ugalde studied at the National School of Music at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, with a focus on choral conducting. Throughout his career he founded and conducted several choirs, including Staccato. Ugalde was a professor at a project aimed at training new choir conductors in Mexico. He visited conferences, symposia and festivals in more than ten countries and took part in five international concert tours with his choir Staccato, as well as winning important awards at several competitions. Furthermore, he has been holding conferences and workshops about Mexican and Latin American music in Germany, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine and Brazil.
The chamber choir “Sophia” is a unique creative formation that unites artists based on the thirst for joint creation of high-quality choral content. The ensemble was formed in October 2007 by Ivan Bogdanov as an ensemble, which specialised in historically informed performances of ancient music. Since the end of 2010, the choir has been led by Oleksii Shamrytskyi, who was at that time still a 5th year student at the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music in the Ukraine. Since 2012, the choir "Sophia" is a regular participant of festivals and assemblies, such as the "KIEVMYUZIK fest", "Premieres of the season" and the Easter Assembly. In 2019, the Sophia choir won the Grand Prix at the 58th Seghizzi International Competition in Italy, as well as the second prize at the “Polyphony & Habanera” (Torrevieja, Spain). The choir won two more first place prizes in other choir competitions in 2022. In addition, the choir became the overall winner (Grand Prix) of the choir competition in Tolosa (Spain) and is a nominee for participation in the EGP competition in the city Debrecen (Hungary).
Conductor: Oleksii Shamrytskyi
Oleksii Shamrytskyi graduated with honours from Kyiv National Musical Academy in 2011. Since 2010, he has been the artistic director of the chamber choir Sophia. Under his direction, the choir Sophia won several competitions, including the Grand Prix and first place at the 5.. International Choral Competition Ave Verum in Baden, Austria, in 2022. In 2017, Oleksii Shamrytskyi received the diploma of the best conductor at choir contests in Limburg and Italy. In addition to his conducting work with the Sophia chamber choir, he is the choirmaster of the National Ensemble of Classical Music named after B. Liatoshynsky.
Los Cantantes de Manila (LCDM) is a community choir composed of students, young professionals and devout musicians. LCDM displays the versatility of the Filipinos by performing serious music from the works of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to the dance music of Beyoncé. Since its inception in February 2014, the choir learned new vocal techniques and was taught the virtues of dedication, respect, humility and loyalty. Under the baton of award-winning conductor Mr. Darwin Vargas, LCDM won multiple competitions in the national choral scene like the National Music Competitions for Young Artists and the Himig Handog Choral Competition in Tagum City. In 2017, LCDM joined the first Pop Choir Category of the 15. International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf and won the first prize with an Achievement Level I (Excellent Performance at an International Level) rating.
Committed to its mission to be Filipino cultural ambassadors of goodwill, Los Cantantes de Manila continuously harnesses its craft to promote goodwill and excellence through its God-given gift of ethereal music.
Conductor: Darwin Vargas
Darwin Vargas is one of the most celebrated young conductors in the Philippines today. In 2014, he founded Los Cantantes de Manila. Being exposed to European choirs and attending various workshops and masterclasses in Europe, under world-class pedagogues like Stojan Kuret, Volker Hempfling, Zoltan Pad, developed his ear and techniques for a refined choral sound. Presently, Darwin Vargas conducts the world-renowned University of the East Chorale and the award-winning Adamson University Chorale. He was also a recipient of a scholarship grant to participate in the 2022 International Choral Conducting Masterclass in Saarbrücken and Marktoberdorf, Germany.
The St. Nicholas Choir Litija has been enriching the Slovenian and international choir scene with its strong creative energy for the past 25 years. They are not afraid to be bold as they often take on innovative projects, which present a deviation from classical choral repertoires. During their career they have taken on genres like gospel, spiritual, folk, pop, chants and many others. Each new musical style is a leap into the unknown, a blank page decorated brilliantly under the guidance of Helena Fojkar Zupančič. They frequently collaborate with internationally renowned conductors, commission and perform new compositions of acknowledged Slovenian composers, and receive the highest awards in national and international competitions. Their most recent notable performances were at the Europa Cantat festival’s Opening Ceremony in Ljubljana in 2021 and a full-length concert in Vaison-la-Romaine’s Roman theatre during the Choralies Choral festival in France in August 2022. An important part of the St. Nicholas Choir Litija is their education of choral singers who go on to enrich the Slovenian choir scene with the knowledge gained in the choir.
Conductor: Helena Fojkar Zupančič
Helena Fojkar Zupančič completed her musical education at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She works as a choral conductor and vocal teacher at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium (DCG) of the St. Stanislav Institution. She leads the St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir as well as the St. Nicholas Choir Litija, both of which perform a classical choral repertoire. She also works with a 120-member (re)mixed choir of the DCG, who sing an appealing programme of pop and musicals. Her choirs excel in sophisticated vocal technique, profound breadth of musical repertoire, a rich sound quality and original interpretation. She has educated numerous generations of singers in the Slovene choral scene, knows how to inspire them and find joy through music. As a guest conductor she performed with the Slovenian Children’s Choir, the RTV Slovenia Chamber Choir and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. She is a sought-after jury member for national and international competitions. Helena Fojkar Zupančič was awarded the 2016 prize for outstanding achievements in the field of musical education. In 2020, she received the Silver Plaque of the Public Fund for Cultural Activities of Slovenia (JSKD).
The vocal ensemble of the girls’ choir of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin consists of roughly 30 singers, who are between 16 and 24 years old. The girls’ choir of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin gives girls and young women the opportunity to receive a musical education and to work on challenging literature for the same voice type. Since it was founded in 2006, the choir has been led by Friederike Stahmer. Imparting music of all styles and periods and developing new concert formats lies at the core of the choir. The connection of singing and movement is also an important part of the rehearsals. In May 2018, the choir successfully participated in the German Choir Competition and won second place. In June 2022, two choral groups participated in the Berlin Choir Conference with great success and became first place winners within their category, which qualified them to participate in the German Choir Competition 2023. Various concert tours have led the girls’ choir to Iceland, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland as well as most recently to China and Norway.
Conductor: Friederike Stahmer
Friederike Stahmer is a professor for conducting children’s and youth choirs at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media and is responsible for the corresponding postgraduate programme. She is also a lecturer at the Berlin University of the Arts in the fields of children’s vocal training and conducting children’s choirs. As a sought-after expert for conducting children’s and youth choirs, she gives talks and holds seminars within Germany as well as abroad. After graduating in School Music studies, she studied Voice Pedagogy at the Berlin University of the Arts. Furthermore, she completed a degree in Economics at the Humboldt University in Berlin. As a choir conductor she attended masterclasses by Volker Hempfling, Gary Graden and James Jordan and received further education at the Gorden institute for Music Learning (USA).
The men’s chamber choir Ensemble 85 has dedicated itself to present great choral literature for men at a high standard, usually through a cappella performances. The ensemble comprises of about 20 singers, who all have varied musical experiences and educations, play an instrument or conduct choirs themselves. The choir, originally founded for a family celebration, now has a broad repertoire of religious and secular choral literature for men, which includes contemporary music. Since 2016, Matthias Rajczyk has taken on the artistic direction of the Ensemble 85, who consider themselves to be a cultural ambassador of the Saarland and the greater region. It is a role, which the choir successfully fulfils through an established series of concerts and the participation in national and international competitions, at which it has won several awards. Recent accomplishments include the successful participation in the Regional Choir Competition Saar in 2022, which earned the ensemble a place in the German Choir Competition in June 2023. Throughout its existence the Ensemble 85 has made a name for itself beyond its region. The ensemble was, for example, only recently invited to arrange the choir night in Limburg.
Conductor: Matthias Rajczyk
Matthias Rajczyk initially studied School Music and Theology before changing his subjects to Conducting, which he studied under Prof. Georg Grün and Prof. Toshiyuki Kamioka. He has been successfully working as a choral conductor in Germany and Luxemburg for many years now. Concerts and his work as a guest conductor have taken him to Latvia, the Czech Republic, France, Luxemburg and South Africa. Frequent radio, TV and CD recordings as well as various festival invitations are part of his artistic profession. His own profound vocal education and singing experience are the foundation and success of his approach to choral work. In 2019, he was appointed as the Director of the Choral studies at the Conservatoire de musique du nord in Luxemburg.
The Euga Male Voice Choir was founded in July 2011 by a group of young and enthusiastic musicians. The choir consists of around 25 experienced choral singers from all walks of life. As most of the singers live in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere, the choir works in three cities, giving concerts several times a year. Euga performs a wide range of music, both maintaining old traditions and creating a new culture of male voice singing; the group’s repertoire includes pieces from Gregorian chants and Romantic male choir classics to commissions of contemporary music, and also pieces combining classical male choir sound with electronic music. As a young male choir, Euga is a rare instrument and aims to utilise its uniqueness by fostering a bright and well-balanced sound.
In 2015, Euga won the 6. International Leevi Madetoja Male Choir Competition in Tampere, Finland, and in January 2016, Euga gave a concert with the German-Nordic Youth Philharmonic at the Berliner Philharmonie. In the summer of 2018, Euga won the Grand Prix award in the International Bratislava Choir Festival where Euga competed in two categories (sacral music and male voice music). A year later, in June 2019, the choir was invited to perform at the Aachen Chorbiennale festival in Germany.
Conductor: Visa Yrjölä
Visa Yrjölä received his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Sibelius Academy in 2018. He has also done exchange studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. He currently serves as a conductor of three award-winning groups in Finland, the Euga Male Voice Choir, the Kaamos Chamber Choir and the Helsinki Academic Male Choir KYL.
He has attended several masterclasses organized by Tenso, the European Network for Professional Chamber Choirs, working with Cappella Amsterdam, the Helsinki Chamber Choir, the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir and others. In 2018, he was awarded the best conductor’s prize at the Bratislava Choir Festival.
The Kammerchor Stuttgart is considered one of the best ensembles of its kind. Since its foundation, 55 years ago in January 1968, Frieder Bernius has made the choir an exceptional phenomenon, celebrated by the audience and press. The choir’s repertoire reaches from the 17th to the 21st century. “No superlative is wasted to praise this choir”, wrote the ZEIT (national German newspaper). Their exceptional vocal performance, the finished tonal purity and the almost unbeatable plasticity of the choir’s text presentation, are regarded unrivalled.
The ensemble receives invitations to all the important European festivals and performs at renowned concert halls. It was invited to the 1.,4.,10. and 12. World Symposium on Choral Music, which took place in Vienna, Sydney, Seoul and Auckland. Its global reputation is evident in the choir’s regular concert tours that have been taking place since 1988 in North America, Asia as well as South Africa. Since 1984 the acclaimed ensemble has been Israel’s guest every two years, as it was in 2015 for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.
40 of the over 100 recorded CDs were honoured with awards, most recently with the German Record Critic’s Award for the CD recording of Mendelssohn’s Lieder im Freien zu singen and Requiems by György Ligeti as well as with their eleventh Diapason d´or for Mendelssohn’s Te Deum.
Conductor: Frieder Bernius
For almost 55 years now, Frieder Bernius and his ensemble have been significantly shaping the historical performing practice. Various international awards are a testimony to the exceptional quality and global recognition. Frieder Bernius’ own distinct perception of vocal sound and his search for the historical adequacy of each style of European music since 1600, shape his artistic work as a conductor.
Bernius’ work always aims towards a sound that does not only follow an ideal original version, but a sound that is distinctively individual – whether he is conducting vocal works by Monteverdi, Bach, Händel, Mozart, Beethoven, Fauré and Ligeti, incidental music by Mendelssohn or symphonies by Haydn, Burgmüller, Kalliwoda and Schubert. He has been attending to rediscovered operas of the 18th century as well as to original performances of contemporary compositions. He also has a particular interest for the musical history of southwest Germany.
His work is documented on 115 recordings, which have mostly been published by the label Carus und Hänssler and for which he received more than 45 international record awards.
Frieder Bernius received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition for his contributions to the German musical life and the Order of Merit of the German State of Baden-Württemberg. He furthermore was honoured with a prize by the Europäischen Kirchenmusik Schwäbisch Gmünd and received the Bach Medal by the city of Leipzig.
© Timo Kabel