INTERNATIONAL CHORAL CONTEST OF TOLOSA
This international choral contest has been held in Tolosa every year since 1969, always around the time of All Saints’ Day on 1 November.
Its aim is to bring together the best choirs in the world, in order to enable an exchange of styles, interpretation, choral literature, vocal education and customs of each country, as well as to raise awareness of the musical and cultural tradition of the Basque Country.
Over the decades, the competition has become one of the most important choral events in the world. and to date, almost 1.200 different choirs from all over the world have come to Tolosa to make their music.
COLLEGIUM MUSICUM BERLIN CHAMBER CHOIR
BERLIN (GERMANY) / Conductor: Donka Miteva
20 women / 20 men
The Collegium Musicum Berlin Chamber Choir was founded in 1989 as a chamber choir of the Free and Technical Universities in Berlin. The Chamber Choir performs mainly a cappella music and sometimes choir symphonic pieces with chamber orchestras. The programs vary from the renaissance music to contemporary pieces of the 21st century.
The Chamber Choir also regularly takes part in international festivals and competitions in France, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Czech republic etc.
The choir is a winner of several prizes, for example the 2nd Prize at the 35th International Choir Competition in Varna in 2014, 2nd Prize at the
33rd International Choir Competition in Vic, Spain and in 2016 the 1st Prizes at the categories contemporary music, general category and folklore, as well as the Prize of the “Absolute winner” of the Grand Prix competition at the 44th International Competition in Olomouc, Czech republic. In 2017 the choir won two gold medals and two special prizes at the Grand Prix of Nations in Berlin.
Donka Miteva is the conductor of the choir since 2011.
Donka Miteva studied orchestra conducting at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf and Choral conducting at the State Academy of Music in Sofia.
ASTURIAS (SPAIN) / Conductor: Elena Rosso
This young female choir is part of “El León de Oro” (LDO), a choral project developed in Luanco (Asturias, Spain) more than a decade ago that nowadays boasts more than 120 singers.
AURUM was formed in the early 2012 and is composed of girls aged between 15 and 25. The girls are or have been members of the children’s choir “Los Peques del León de Oro” and some of them are already singing in frequent collaboration with the adult’s choir LDO, particularly for symphonic-choral music. That is, without doubt, the main goal of this new creation within the LDO project: providing continuity for the young voices by bridging the gap between the children’s choir and the adult’s choir.
AURUM made its international début back in July 2012, in the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition in Debrecen (Hungary), where it obtained the fourth position. Just a month later, the group participated in the prestigious Guido d’Arezzo Choral Contest in Arezzo (Italy) —one of the most important choral contests of the world and included in the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing—, where they have achieved their best results so far: First Prize in Renaissance Music; Second Prize in Folklore; Special Jury Prize for Best Conducting.
In 2013, they won the First Prize in the category of Women’s Choirs in the International Contest of Cantonigròs (Catalonia). In 2014, 3rd Prize in Polyphony and in Folklore in Tolosa. In 2015, 1st Prize in Religious Music and 3rd Prize in equal Voices Category in Rimini (Italy).
The conductor and founder of the group is Elena Rosso Valiña, piano and coral group teacher at the Candas School of Music and conductor of the “Los Peques del León de Oro” choir, as well as coach of vocal techniques to the “Aires de Candás” and “El León de Oro” choirs.
GALICIA (SPAIN) / Conductor: Fernando Briones
20 women / 20 men
The Coro Gaos was founded in October 2010 as a continuation of the Gaos Orchestra’s project. His activity is divided between the repertoire a cappella and the symphonic-choral music, with a special emphasis on opera, participating annually in the productions of the Coruña season. Since its creation it organizes concert cycles, and tours the national and international territory.
He obtained the First Prize in the XIII National Competition of Corals Antonio José held in Burgos (2014), the Second Prize in the XXXII International Choral Contest Villa de Avilés (2015), the Second in the XLV Coral Competition of Ejea de los Caballeros (2016), the Prize of the Public at the 63rd International Competition of Polyphony and Habaneras (Torrevieja), the Second Prize in the National Grand Prix of Choral Singing held in Villanueva de la Serena (2017) and the First Prize and Award for the best interpretation of the work to be a must in the VI Contest Coral Vila de Arbo (2018). He also participates in the National Grand Prix of Choral Singing held in Burgos (2018) where he receives fantastic reviews.
In September 2015 he launched a new project: the minigaos, two children’s choirs. In September 2018 he completed the choral family with the Gaos Xove Choir. Fernando Briones is the director-founder of the Coro Gaos.
BATAVIA MADRIGAL SINGERS
JAKARTA (INDONESIA) / Conductor: Avip Priatna
28 women / 28 men
Batavia Madrigal Singers is one of the best mixed choirs in Indonesia and of all the choirs in the country has won the most prizes at prestigious contests. Comprising highly qualified and well-trained singers, the choir is capable of performing choral works of various genres, styles and levels of difficulty.
Batavia Madrigal Singers was founded in 1996 and its current members are amateur singers from the Yakarta area of different ages, ethnic origins, occupations and religions. All of the choir’s members were carefully selected via competitive auditions. Avip’s exceptional musical talent, experience and strong leadership have taken the choir to the height of excellence.
They made history in Torrevieja in 2011 when they won five prizes at the 57th International Habaneras and Polyphony Contest, making theirs the best performance by any choir at this contest which has been held since 1954. The following year the choir won the Grand Prize in Varna (Bulgaria), giving them the right to participate in the 2013 European Grand Prix for Choral Singing against other Grand Prize winners from 2012. This is an extraordinary achievement given they are the first and only choir from Indonesia to compete for the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing. In 2015 the ensemble competed at the International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf in Germany, wining third prize. In 2017 they won the Gran Premio Kutxa in Tolosa and the right to compete at the 29th European Grand Prix for Choral Singing held in Tolosa on November 1st 2017. In 2018, they were invited to participate at the 50th Anniversary Tolosa Choral Contest and won a 1st Prize. In 2019, they won a 1st Prize for Mixed Choirs, the Audience Prize and Best Staging at Florilège Vocal de Tours.
CONSOLATIO CHOIR OF UNIVERSITAS SUMETERA UTARA
SUMETERA UTARA (INDONESIA) / Conductor: Tony Siagian
20 women / 20 men
Consolatio Choir was established on July 7th, 1990 at North Sumatra University (USU) in Medan. At first, it was started as a college students’ choir. In further developments, now Consolatio Choir accepts members not limited to North Sumatra University college students, by considering the high standard to ensure the quality and development of the group. Consolatio Choir commits to the development on vocal musical arts.
During its existence, Consolatio Choir had received number of achievements from local to international events. One of its success Achievement is became a participant of 15th International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf 2017 in Germany with Achievement Level II – very good performance at an international level, receiving two medals for Musica Sacra and Mixed Youth Choir on the 5th World Choir Games in Graz, Austria, on July 2008
During its lifetime, Consolatio Choir will keep on carrying out its visions and missions as a participation in developing choir and church music in Indonesia.
JCA NATIONAL YOUTH CHOIR
JAPAN / Conductor: Robert Sund
34 women / 32 men
JCA NATIONAL YOUTH CHOIR The Japan Choral Association launched a youth choral camp program in 2012 for the purpose of developing the next generation of choral singers and their conductors. This program gathers young, enthusiastic singers from all around Japan, to cultivate friendships through music, and to dig deep into music under the guidance of world-class conductors, culminating in a concert. We hope for the young singers to share their musical learning from this camp, and their potential throughout Japan and overseas. The JCA National Youth Choir builds on a large repertoire and vocal technique under the annual guidance of world-class choral conductors, and nurtures cooperative relationships and self-expression through the time spent together in the program.
Robert Sund is a Swedish singer, conductor, composer and arranger. After studying education, psychology, sociology and musicology at Uppsala University, he entered the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He studied choral conducting with Eric Ericson. Sund was a conductor of the world-class male choir Orphei Drängar and the mixed choirs Allmänna Sången and Uppsala Music School Chamber Choir. In 1993, he was awarded Conductor of the Year by the Association of Swedish Choir Masters. In 2015 Sund was invited by Japan Choral Association as a guest conductor for 5th JCA National Youth Choir held in Fukushima.
MIXED CHOIR “PA SAULEI”
LATVIA / Conductor: Marta Ozola
20 women / 20 men
Garkalne mixed choir “Pa Saulei” is one of the most creative and most attractive musical units of Latvian choral culture.
The choir “Pa saulei” was founded in 2009 by young and talented Marta Ozola who has been choir’s artistic director ever since. Marta Ozola acquired a bachelor’s degree in Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music in the class of choir conducting. Conductor Janis Ozols – laureate of international choral conducting contests is one of the best Latvian conductors currently. Singers’ vocal mastery is built by Margarita Dudcaka.
One of greatest achievements for the moment in choir’s history is– participation in 7. Internationaler Robert-Schumann-Chorwettbewerb & Festival, where the choir won Grand Prix of the festival in 2014. In 2018 “Pa Saulei” took Golden prize (1st place) in Folk category and Silver prize in Classical category in Busan Choral Competition in South Korea. This was choir’s first competition outside Europe and it was a challenge to show beauty and simplicity of Latvian folk song versus colourful Asian choir performances but it lead to victory in most competitive category of competition.
BEL CANTO CHOIR
VILNIUS (LITHUANIA) / Conductor: Egidijus Kaveckas
20 women / 20 men
Founded in 2009, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius is the best non-professional mixed choir in Lithuania. The Choir unites more than 50 singers, whose desire is to have quality leisure time and enjoy one of life’s most pleasant activities – singing. Their goal is to sing different styles of music, present high quality musical projects, as well as take part in competitions and festivals in Lithuania and abroad.
On December 1, 2013, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius rocked the country’s choral music scene and accomplished unthinkable. During the fourth year of its existence, the Choir won the Lithuania’s major National Choral Competition, thus becoming the best mixed voices choir in the country. On October 16, 2018 Bel Canto Choir Vilnius won Lithuanian’s National Choral Competition the second time and for the next four years will be kept as the best one.
At the World Choir Games 2014, organized in Riga, Latvia, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius received 90.63 points and won the gold medal. By doing so, Bel Canto Choir Vilnius, together with other choirs, anchored in the league of the world’s greatest choirs.
The Choir was also awarded with one of the most prestigious choral awards in Lithuania – Golden Bird award in the category of New Shining Star by the Lithuanian Center for Folk Culture; as well as participated in the Busan (South Korea) International Choral Competition and international choral competition of habaneras and polyphony in Torrevieja (Spain).
Bel Canto Choir Vilnius was the first choir in Lithuania to present its official YouTube channel, and was the first Lithuanian choir, which presented its music on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.
CORO DE CÁMARA 441 HZ
POLAND / Conductor: Anna Wilczewska
20 women/ 20 men
441 Hz is one of the most significant and the most recognizable vocal ensembles in Poland. The choir was founded in 2006 on the initiative of the students of the Gdańsk Academy of Music. The leading goal of the 441 Hz team is to perform and promote contemporary vocal music. While performing premieres of contemporary compositions, the 441 Hz often exceeds the aesthetic boundaries to which the audience of the vocal music is accustomed. By stepping out of the musical comfort zone, it opens to experiments with various vocal techniques, returns to the nature of the voice and moves away from the traditional bel canto singing. The continuous quest for extra-musical inspiration resulted in a number of interdisciplinary artistic -projects in which the folk culture or theatre combine in a cohesive whole with music.
Choir is a laureate of prizes at national and international choir competitions, including Grand Prix of the 12th International Mundus Cantat Festival in Sopot, the International Festival “Slovakia Cantat” in Bratislava (2016), 46th National Festival “Legnica Cantat” (2015), XIII International Festival of Choral Music in Barczewo (2014) and the III International Music Festival named Józef Świder in Cieszyn (2017). In 2018, the choir became a finalist of one of the most prestigious music festivals: Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. 441 Hz was recognized there as one of the four best choirs in the world, alongside groups from South Africa, Wales and Singapore.
The founder and leader of 441 Hz is Anna Wilczewska, conductor of young generation distinguished by her extreme openness to perform contemporary music.
BASEL (SWITZERLAND) / Conductor: Olivier Rudin
Knickerbockers, a pair of braces, and corduroy jackets: the antiquated look of the Männerstimmen Basel choristers is in stark contrast to the youth of these lads and their fresh performances.
Aged between 18-32 years, they have impressed audiences and juries in their home country, Switzerland, as well as abroad with their musical performances. For example, they have won Gold medals at the World Choir Games, the Olympic games of choral singing, in Riga (Latvia 2014) and Cincinnati (Ohio 2012), and also the Grand Prix prizes at the Cornwall International Male Voices Festival (England 2015) and the Cracovia Cantans International Competition (Poland 2017). Moreover, the Männerstimmen Basel were recognized with the “Fleischmann International Trophy” (Ireland 2011) for the best interpretation of a contemporary piece.
This energetic choir combines passion and ease, both on and off stage. Having a laugh together is just as important as rehearsing and performing.
In concert, however, everyone is focused and attentive to the instructions of conductor Oliver Rudin and vice-conductor David Rossel. Each year, the choir awards a commission to well-known contemporary composers (e.g. Rudolf Jaggi, Gion Antoni Derungs, Javier Hagen, Ivo Antognini). Ready for any challenge, the choir also revisits unknown and long forgotten music.
SWARA VOCAL ENSEMBLE
BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) / Conductor: Ivan Yohan
8 women / 8 men
Swara is a Brussels-based vocal ensemble dedicated to the promotion and performance of contemporary a cappella music from around the world. Under the guidance of its founding director, Ivan Yohan, a number of professional young singers have come together as a group to perform modern choral music to an exacting standard.
Swara vocal ensemble members represent a diverse range of nationalities and backgrounds, each one selected for his or her distinct vocal timbre that when combined create a richly distinct choral sound. Swara aspires to explore the thematic and rhythmic diversity of contemporary choral repertoire: compositions that are rarely performed by professional choirs, but are yet fascinating for the variety of musical expression they feature.
We aim not to limit ourselves to Western music performance, but to go further, to discover choral works outside of the familiar Western tradition and literally give voice to cultures and peoples through the sharing of their music. In Swara, we are committed to the exploration of the roots of the music that we perform, always honoring the richness of the multicultural society in which we live.
MANADO (INDONESIA) / Conductor: Roland David Enoch
Gema Sangkakala Female Choir is one of the best young female group from Indonesia which is a part of Gema Sangkakala Foundation since 1989. It is a vessel for all denomynation of all churches and people from any backgrounds who has a passions in choir. Was born by a hand of North Sulawesi artist for music Mr. Wenny Pantouw; Gema Sangkakala has fully growned by that time. Focusing on the mission of the founder; singing and telling about God through music everywhere.
Gema Sangkakala also compete in various competition in Indonesia and the world with succes. As it goes with the development of the Gema Sangkakala; the females members need to be growned as well. When, all the girls from Gema Sangkakala Choir felt they need to spread their wings into all female choir. The female group is composed of the members of Gema Sangkakala Choir itself, students, and church members of all denominations.
Gema Sangkala Female Choir has been teached and attended many workshops with various musician of choral conducting, music teacher, and singers such as Anna Tabita, Nelson Kwei, Gene Peterson, Paul Phoenix, Agustinus Bambang Jusana, and Tommyanto Kandisaputra.
Now Gema Sangkakala Female Choir conducted by Roland David Enoch. He was born in Manado 31 years ago. His interest in world of choir started from he joined Gema Sangakala Children Choir by age nine.
VOCAL GROUP ĒRA
MAZSALACA (LATVIA) / Conductor: Dita Tomsone
Vocal group ĒRA was created in Mazsalaca, small town in North of Latvia about a decade ago. Almost ten years the members of the group were settled the same – five beautiful girls with wonderful voices and their leader Dita Tomsone. ĒRA has been among the leading amateur vocal groups in Latvia since 2012 proven by the first places in national competitions on 2013, 2016 and 2018.
Only on year 2019th one of the members came new and ĒRA became a semi-professional vocal group. Nevertheless ĒRA is one of the leaders as proven with the highest score in 2nd Latvian female vocal ensemble competition on May 2019th.
Yet nothing had changed – girls from vocal group ĒRA loves to spend their time singing. Especially doing that together. Finding new challenges in Latvian and foreign music, blending music with choreography and looking for new adventures on the stage.
ART’N VOICES VOCAL ENSEMBLE
WEJHEROWO (POLAND) / Conductors: Anna Roclawska-Musialczyk & Tomasz Chyla
4 women / 4 men
Art’n’Voices Vocal Ensemble came into being in December 2010 in Wejherowo. It consists of young people, who shared a common passion of singing and expressing their own musical ideas. Art’n’Voices performs pieces from early music to contemporary. In the repertoire of this vocal ensemble we can find both sacred and secular music and also their author compositions and arrangements, especially in Kashubian language.
All years of ensemble activity were rich in victories and trophies at international choral competitions, with nine Grand Prix prizes, with last five years:
• 06.2014 – Grand Prix at The I Festival of Contemporary Music ‘Music Everywhere’ in Gdańsk, Poland
• 05.2015 – Grand Prix at The XI International Choir Festival ‘Mundus Cantat’ in Sopot, Poland
• 06.2016 – Grand Prix at VI International Festival of Choral Music ‘For the gold ribbon of Solcha’ in Ejszyski, Lithuania
• 11.2018 – Grand Prix at IV Józef Świder International Music Festival in Cieszyn, Poland
The last, but no least trophies are two 2nd prizes in International Choir Competition “Polifonico Guido di Arezzo 2017” in Italy in categories: compulsory and monographic. In a result Art’n’Voices Vocal Ensemble took a concert tour in Choeurs Lauréats 2018 Festival in Provence, France.
THE KORRIGAN CONSORT
OXFORD (UNITED KINGDOM) / Conductor: Isobel Rose
The Korrigan Consort is an Oxford-based female vocal group. Founded in 2018 by Isobel Rose, the group specializes in experimental and re-interpretive approaches to ancient and contemporary music.
In the words of the composer Carol J Jones, The Korrigan Consort has a professional style and technique that points them out as a very special group of musicians, whose audition animates and encourages to be heard again.
The group’s roster consists of 12 singers, which are exchanged according to projects, in this case, in the Tolosa Choral Contest, the group will consist of 5 people. Although the group is newly created all its components have an important track record and professional vocal training, even in the world of opera. being some of them awarded for his work as a singer-soloist.
GLIER INSTITUTE OF MUSIC VOCAL GROUP
KIEV (UKRAINE) / Conductor: Galina Gorbatenko
The vocal ensemble is an important part of the Female Choir of Kiev Glier Institute of Music. The choir was created in 1985 on the initiative of Galina Gorbatenko, who is till now its artistic director. The choir consists of students of the choir conducting department, the future choirmasters of children’s, amateur and professional collectives. In this choir they receive the first practical skills and independently prepare works of their graduation program for conducting.
In addition to participating in the choir, the vocal ensemble is a regular participant in prestigious festivals and art events in Ukraine, performing religious Christmas and Easter programs in churches, and folk song arrangements in the Philharmonic and in Kiev art museums. The choir and the ensemble have a personal friendship and mutual creative collaboration with well-known Ukrainian composers, many pieces of whom they represent at the annual Ukrainian festival “Premieres of season”.
During the years of its existence, the choir also represented his art at festivals and competitions in Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, France, Iceland, Poland, Spain, Portugal, The Netherland and other countries.
Galina Gorbatenko is a well-known Ukrainian choral conductor in the world.
Photo: by Ivan Yohan
Born in Tolosa, he studied choral conducting in the Basque Country and in Stockholm, sponsored by the Council of Gipuzkoa, with Anders Eby. He has also participated in other courses given by Eric Ericson and Carl Högset. Artistic director of Sociedad Coral de Bilbao since 2016. He has conducted since 1985 the Choir HODEIERTZ of Tolosa. In 1997 he founded the professional Vocal Ensemble KEA with the aim of promoting contemporary and ancient music. He teaches choral singing in Musikene – Centro Superior de Música del País Vasco. He is President of the Confederation of Choirs in the Basque Country. He has conducted the Choir of the University of the Basque Country (1999-2016), the Choir of the Choral Singing Institute of Aragon (Zaragoza, 1993-2003), has directed the Spanish National Youth Choir. . He is member of the musical committee in the International Choral Contest of Tolosa, and the World Simposyum Barcelona 2017 and artistic director of the National Choral Contest of Ejea de los Caballeros. In 1991, he received the Prize to the Best Director in the International Contest of Varna (Bulgaria). He has been the Spanish representative in the World Choral Symposia held in Sydney in 1996, with Hodeiertz, and in Puerto Madryn (Argentina) in 2011, with KEA vocal ensemble.
Helena Fojkar Zupančič
She works as choral conductor and vocal coach at Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana. She leads St. Stanislav’ Girls’ Choir , the 100-members (Re)Mixed Choir of Diocessan Classical Gymnasium Ljubljana and St. Nicholas Choir in Litija.
Her most important achievements are with the St. Stanislav’s Girls’ Choir absolute victory at the EBU competition Let the Peoples Sing 2009 in Oslo, performance at the European Festival of Youth Choirs Basel 2014, the World Choral Symposium in Barcelona 2017, and, in 2019, at the National Conference of American Choral Directors Association in Kansas City. She has been earning highest places with her choirs in competitions and is the recipient of special awards. She was awarded the Gallus plaque (2012) and the prize of the Republic of Slovenia in the field of musical education (2016).
In 2004 and from 2007–2009, she led the Slovenian Children’s Choir. Between 2009-2015, she recorded and performed with the Radio Slovenia Chamber Choir. She conducted the project RTV Slovenia Chamber Choir and Symphony Orchestra in 2014 at the season concert part of Mozartines. In 2015, she conducted the Slovenian Chamber Choir (now Slovenian Philharmonic Choir) at the opening concert of Ljubljana Festival.
Russia – Sweden
Maria Goundorina was born in Novosokolniki in Russia and grew up near Moscow, where she started singing in choirs at the age of seven, taking up conducting when she was fifteen. She studied at the Ippolitov-Ivanov Music College and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory (with Boris Tevlin) and later at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with Anders Eby, also following courses in musicology at the University of Vienna.
Her ideals in terms of choral sound have been influenced by these cities and her studies, but also by her own experiences as a singer and conductor.
She has been a member of the Chamber Choir of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor and Mikaeli Chamber Choir, and has conducted numerous Swedish choirs, including the Swedish Radio Choir, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and the choir of the Royal Swedish Opera. Since 2010 Maria Goundorina has been artistic director of Allmänna Sången. She also teaches choral direction and singing and Russian music at courses in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Founder and artistic director of the Mikrokosmos Chamber Choir since 1989, Loïc Pierre is also a director, stage designer, composer and visual artist. Plural artist and always looking for originality, his work draws its influences from Sam Francis, Ariane Mnouchkine, Bob Wilson, Alfred Hitchcock or Martin Scorsese. Always in search, he tries to free himself from the immutable ritual of the concert for propose another ceremony in the hope of inventing a choral theater in the service of a choral art of today.
His shows testify to this claimed merger:
Tenebrae (2001) Bright Shadows, Another History of Cinema (2006), The Night Unveiled (2013) Back to the Earth, on music by Meredith Monk (2014), Jumala (2016), Chronicles of forgotten peoples (2018) The day amazes me (2019).
Paul Phoenix’s long career in the music business spans five decades, from Ivor Novello Award-winning Chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, through seventeen years and a Grammy Award as tenor in the world-renowned a cappella group, The King’s Singers, with whom he performed more than 2000 concerts, to founder of PurpleVocals, a coaching consultancy which draws upon his vast experience as a singer and performer. His work not only as a speaker, coach and mentor, but also as a soloist continues to take him all around the world as he shares his passion for singing and choral music. His coaching specialises is encouraging audience engagement and confidence-building with soloists, conductors, choirs and ensembles.
He lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife, Helena and two sons, Will and Ed and when not working he enjoys cycling vast distances on his bikes and supporting Manchester City!.
Mikael was educated at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He has a degree in conducting, piano and classical singing. He is since 2012 employed as a church musician in the parish of Farsta in Stockholm. During 2003-2011 Mikael worked as a teacher at Kungsholmens gymnasium/Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium, teaching choral singing. The school is for gifted young singers. Mikael has in his career worked with some of the most notable choirs in Stockholm, among them Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and the Swedish Radio Choir. In 2007 Mikael founded S:t Jacobs Vokalensemble (former Youth Choir) and have been its musical and artistic leader since. In November 2013, the choir took part in 45th Tolosa choral contest in Basque Country, Spain. Out of five possible prizes S:t Jacobs Vokalensemble won all of them and qualified for the European Grand Prix of Choral Music in Debrecen, Hungary 2014, where the choir won the whole competition. In 2017 the S:t Jacobs Vokalensemble represented Sweden in the 11th World Symposium on Choral music in Barcelona. Mikael has taken part as a jury member in the Grand Prix Competitions of Choral music in Varna-Bulgaria, Tolosa-Basque Country-Spain, Debrecen-Hungary, Tours-France. He also conducts masterclasses in choral singing around the world, emphasizing on modern repertoire. In 2018, they were invited to participate at the 50th Anniversary Tolosa Choral Contest and won a 1st Prize.
Nadezhda Averina is a graduate of the Ponomaryov VESNA Children’s Choir School (Moscow) and the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. She holds a Doctor of Art History and teaches at the Moscow Conservatory. She has won international contests and is an Artist of Merit in Moscow.
Since 2012 she has directed the Ponomaryov VESNA Choir School in addition to being Artistic Director and Director of the VESNA Children’s Choir. Under the leadership of Dr Averina, the choir won first prizes and various Grand Prizes at international choir contests in 2006 (Tolosa), 2010 (Nyíregyháza, Hungary), 2012 (Malcesine, Italy), 2014 (Neerpelt, Belgium and Halle, Germany), 2016 (Debrecen, Hungary) and 2017 (Daugavpils, Latvia). In 2017 the choir won the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, even beating the adult choirs competing for the prize.
The VESNA choir has taken its concert programmes to 12 European countries as well as Canada, Japan, China and around 50 towns and cities in Russia. The choir has sung in the best concert halls in Moscow with many celebrated orchestras and conductors.
Its vast and varied repertoire includes hundreds of classical works from different periods and countries and a range of styles and genres. The choir’s programmes have been recorded for radio and TV.
Dr Averina has written articles on the methodology of teaching, has arranged several pieces and has compiled numerous choir music collections (seven of which were included in the Golden Library of Choirmaster series). She holds regular seminars and master classes for choir directors and sits on the judging panel for many Russian and international choir competitions.
Sweden – USA
Born in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Gary Graden studied at Clark University, the Hartt School of Music, the Aspen Summer Music Festival and with Eric Ericson at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. He is a former member and tenor soloist with the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir and the vocal ensemble Lamentabile Consort.
Gary Graden has been choral director at S:t Jacobs Church in Stockholm since 1984 and is also choral director at Stockholm Cathedral. He also taught at Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium, where he founded and directed the Stockholms Musikgymnasium Chamber Choir. With this ensemble and the S:t Jacobs Chamber Choir he has won first prizes at many of Europe’s most prestigious choral competitions, including the European Grand Prix. He has also participated in various national and international festivals including the IFCM World Symposium in Minneapolis and Kyoto and the ACDA National Convention in the USA.
Gary Graden was formerly the artistic director of the Orpheus Vocal Ensemble in Ochsenhausen, Germany. With his trio WÅG (Wager Åstrand Graden) he is developing and exploring improvisational music for voice and instruments. With S:t Jacobs/ Stockholm Cathedral Vocal Ensemble he performs a solo and small ensemble repertoire encompassing all periods. Above and beyond his expertise in the performance of contemporary music, he has also performed such large works as George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, W.A. Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in C minor, J.S. Bach’s passions and Mass in B minor (BWV 232) as well as the requiems of Johannes Brahms, Maurice Duruflé, Gabriel Fauré and Michael Haydn.
Gary Graden is sought after throughout the world as a conductor, choirmaster and judge. He has shown a unique capacity for combining a wide variety of musical genres with the sounds of Swedish choral tradition. With the curiosity of a true musician, he also enjoys performing newly written works. Gary has worked with prestigious international choirs including the SWR Vocal Ensemble (Stuttgart), Orpheus Vokalensemble (Ochsenhausen), Jauna Muzika (Vilnius), Pro Coro Canada, the Formosa Singers (Taipei), the Singapore Ensemble Singers and the IFCM World Youth Choir, among others. His work as a conductor and singer is documented on many CD and radio recordings (BIS, Carus, Proprius, Caprice, Phono Suecia, Gehrmans, nosag, Camerata Tokyo, among others).
Gary was awarded the Johannes Norrby medal for his contribution to Swedish choral music and was elected Sweden’s Choir Director of the Year in 2005. In 2009, he and his choir received the Guidoneum Award from the Fondazione Guido D’Arezzo in Italy.
Italy – Slovenia
Born in Trieste (Italy), Stojan Kuret graduated from the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana and finished piano studies at the Giuseppe Tartini Conservatory in Trieste, where he has been teaching since 1983. He served as artistic director of the APZ Tone Tomšič choir of the University of Ljubljana for 10 years. With them, as well as with the Ljubljana Vocal Academy, he made notable international artistic achievements (five grand prizes in Tours (1999), Varna (2001), Gorizia (2001), Maribor (2002), and Arezzo (2009), and three-time finalist and two-time winner of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing in Arezzo (2002) and Varna (2010)).
In 1984 he received the Gallus commendation from the State of Slovenia for his exceptional musical achievements as well as an honour from the city of Ljubljana for his artistic direction of the APZ Tone Tomšič choir. He directed the RTV Slovenia Chamber Choir (a national radio and TV choir) for two years and also led the Italian Youth Choir for two seasons from January 2007. In September 2011 he received the prestigious Guidoneum Award in Arezzo for his successful and creative work with the Ljubljana Vocal Academy, and in 2012 he was bestowed the Prešeren Foundation Award, the greatest national cultural accolade in Slovenia.
For 15 years he has been artistic advisor for the Jacobus Gallus Choral Festival in Maribor, Slovenia.
In addition to having directed the Italian Youth Choir, he is a member of the artistic advisory group FENIARCO (National Federation of the Regional Choral Associations in Italy).
Peter Phillips has achieved an impressive reputation for his research and performance of Renaissance polyphony. Having won a scholarship to Oxford in 1972, Peter Phillips studied Renaissance music with David Wulstan and Denis Arnold and gained experience in conducting small vocal ensembles and experimenting with the rarer parts of the repertoire. He founded The Tallis Scholars in 1973, with whom he has now appeared in over 1600 concerts and made nearly 50 albums, encouraging interest in polyphony all over the world. As a result of his work—concerts, recordings, magazine prizes, published articles on music and composition—Renaissance music has, for the first time, become accepted as part of the traditional classical repertoire.
Peter Phillips continues to work with other specialist ensembles. He has appeared, among others, with the Collegium Vocale of Ghent, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Choeur de Chambre de Namur, the Finnish radio choir, Musix from Budapest, the Montreal Studio of Ancient Music and various others across the world. Peter also works extensively with the BBC Singers, with whom he gave a concert at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in July 2007 in collaboration with the Tallis Scholars. The performance was broadcast live and attended by more than 5000 people. Peter gives numerous master classes and choral workshops every year throughout the world and is also artistic director of the Tallis Scholars summer schools—annual courses based in Oakham (UK), Seattle (USA) and Sydney (Australia)—which explore the heritage of Renaissance choral music and develop an appropriate performance style. Peter was recently named Director of Music at Merton College, Oxford, where the new choral foundation he helped to establish began singing services in October 2008.
In 1995 he took over and became editor of The Musical Times, the oldest continuously-published music journal in the world. His first book, English Sacred Music, 1549-1649, was published by Gimell in 1991 and his second, What We Really Do, was published in 2003.
Peter Phillips has participated in numerous television and radio broadcasts. Besides those featuring The Tallis Scholars (which include live broadcasts from the 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2008 BBC Proms, the Edinburgh Festival in 2007, the Aldeburgh Festival and the Bath Festival), he has appeared several times on the BBC’s Music Weekly and on the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, National Public Radio in the US and on German, French and Canadian radio, where he has enjoyed displaying his love of languages. In 1990, ITV’s The South Bank Show featured Peter’s ‘personal odyssey’ with the Tallis Scholars and in 2002 a special television documentary was made for the BBC about the life and times of William Byrd.
Since 2014 he has been Principal Director of the London International A Capella Choir Competition and has contributed to promoting choral music since then.
He is also actively involved with various Spanish choral groups.
Jordan Sramek is Founder and Artistic Director of The Rose Ensemble from Saint Paul, Minnesota. The driving force behind the repertoire of one of the most creative ancient music ensembles in the USA, Jordan is renowned as one the most innovative leaders on the North American music scene. He is highly respected for his meticulous research of sacred and spiritual folk music. He often travels in order to carry out this work—most recently involving the search for manuscripts—and has collaborated with musicologists and linguists in Israel, France, Spain, Sweden and Hawaii.
Jordan has developed a sharp and acclaimed talent for putting together concert programmes, creating a rich tapestry of vocal music which works for all concerts whether in the USA or in Europe. He is frequently invited to speak at musicology conferences and to give workshops and master classes. A talented choir director and vocalist known for his warm and welcoming personality, Jordan has worked with amateur and professional singers alike on a highly diverse vocal repertoire. Recent conferences and teaching appearances include the Festival d’Ile de France (Paris), the University of Indianapolis, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Vermont, Grinnell College, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Louisiana Lafayette, Luther College, the American Choral Directors Association and Chorus America.
Māris Sirmais is one of the most important names in the world of choral music. He is a pillar and guide for Latvian choir culture and a voice respected by thousands of participants in the Latvian Choral Festival. He has been Artistic Director of the Latvian National Choir since 1997. Sirmais also helped develop one of Latvia’s brightest cultural symbols, the Youth Choir Kamēr…, of which he was principal director from its founding in 1990 until 2012. He is Head of the Department of Choral Conducting and Professor at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music and has served on several occasions as a member of the judging panel at national and international choral competitions. Māris Sirmais was also awarded the Order of the Three Stars and is an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences and recipient of numerous titles and awards for his cultural achievements and for popularising Latvia throughout the world.
Māris Sirmais regularly works with Latvia’s various professional orchestras and has conducted collectives including Kremerata Baltica, the Umeå Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Strings and the Evgeny Svetlanov State Academic Symphony Orchestra. He has also collaborated with world renowned soloists, including Maxim Rysanov, Kristīna Blaumane, Egils Siliņš, Aleksandrs Antoņenko, Julius Berger, Gidons Krēmers, Nicolas Altstaedt, Douglas Webster and Inese Galante, among others.
Māris Sirmais is a member of the artistic committee of the Latvian Choral Festival.
Corea del Sur
Dr Shin-Hwa Park is the Director of Ansan City Choir, Professor at the Ewha Womans University, President of the Korean Federation for Choral Music (KFCM), former president of the Korean Choral Directors Association (KCDA), Director of the Ewha Chamber Choir and presenter of the FEBC-FM Christian music radio programme. He received his degree and doctorate in church music and vocal music from Yonsei University in Seoul and his DMA in Choral Conducting and Literature from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Dr Park is one of the most sought-after choir directors in Korea for leading choral courses and workshops. He has served as guest conductor of the National Chorus of Korea, the Seoul Metropolitan Chorus, Busan City Chamber Choir and many other ensembles. He gives more than 40 lectures every year and between 1996 and 2015 his choirs released some 83 CDs. He also directs the Calvary Choir of Young-Nak Presbyterian Church, which comprises 150 singers.
Dr Park was the first winner of the Ulrim Grand Prize in 2004 and received the Ansan Art Prize that same year. The following year he was selected as one of the best professors of the Ewha Womans University and in 2007 he was awarded the Korean Music Prize. He is regularly invited to serve on the judging panel at various choral competitions both at home and abroad. In 2011 he conducted Ansan City Chamber Choir in the Vatican by invitation of the Papal Household. His choir also performed at the 2012 ACDA Northwestern Division Convention in Seattle, Washington, and at the 2015 ACDA Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For many years, Stephen Connolly was a bass singer and co-director of the world famous vocal ensemble The King’s Singers. He interpreted over 120 concerts per year for nearly a quarter century, appeared frequently in both radio and TV shows, and recorded many CDs with EMI, BMG Records, Signum Records and Sony –including three Grammy Award nominations and a Grammy Award. More recently, he has acted as a judge in several contests and has taught many choral workshops. In 2008, Stephen founded the International A Cappella School, which offers international residences for singers and choirs. In 2010, Stephen was appointed Head of Vocal Studies of the Cheltenham Ladies’ College. He lives in Gloucestershire.
Georg Grün is considered to be one of the most sought-after international choral conductors and specialists for choral sound. He founded the KammerChor Saarbrücken in 1990 and has been its artistic director ever since then. He has won important international and national choir competitions, he gives concerts at numerous renowned music festivals and he regularly produces CDs with CarusVerlag and Rondeau Productions. From 2000 until 2012 he held a professorship for choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mannheim. There, he founded a chamber choir with which he also won several international prizes. In 2012, Georg Grün changed to the Hochschule für Musik Saar as a professor and became artistic direction of the Ev. Chorgemeinschaft an der Saar.
Georg Grün works as guest conductor guest professor, juror and tutor at international masterclasses for choral conducting both nationally and internationally. He is a mentor at the forum for conductors of the German Music Council and Chairman at the international jury of the chamber choir competition in Marktoberdorf. In 2017 concerts, lectures, master classes and guest performances will take him to Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
He was born in Trieste (Italy). He is a graduate of the Music Academy at the University of Ljubljana and obtained his Piano Degree at the Giuseppe Tartini Conservatory of Trieste, where he has been a professor since 1983. He was the artistic director of the APZ Tone Tomši choir of the University of Ljubljana for 10 years. With that choir and the Vokalna akademija Ljubljana, he has achieved many prestigious artistic recognitions (fi ve grand prizes –Tours 1999, Varna 2001, Gorizia 2001, Maribor 2002and Arezzo 2009–, three-time fi nalist and two-time winner of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing – in 2002 in Arezzo and in 2010 in Varna). In 1984, he was honoured with the Gallus Award for his extraordinary achievements in the fi eld of music and the Ljubljana City Award for the artistic direction of the APZ Tone Tomši choir. He conducted the RTV Slovenia Chamber Choir (national radio and TV choir) for two years. Starting January 2007 and for two years, he conducted the Italian Youth Choir. In September 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Guidoneum Prize in Arezzo, due to the successful and creative work he has done with the Vokalna akademija Ljubljana.
In 2012, he received the Prešeren Foundation Award, the highest cultural recognition of Slovenia.
He studied under Gösta Ohlin and Gunnar Eriksson at the Music and Drama Academy of Gothenburg, and Orchestra Conducting under Lennart Hedvall, Jorma Panula, Robert Reynolds and Everett Lee. Bengt Ollén is Sofi a Vokalensemble’s founder and conductor. Since 1995 he has led the vocal ensemble with great passion and a never-dying enthusiasm, taking the choir to the highest artistic levels. Bengt’s vision is to create music “beyond the notes”. In his opinion, music should move the listener. Therefore, each singer’s commitment is a vital piece in the musical progress: for the music to be a success, everybody must participate. That is Bengt’s musical belief.
Bengt is also the founder and conductor of the Södra Dalarnas Chamber Orchestra. This orchestra participates yearly in the “Musik vid Slijan” festival.
Bengt is frequently engaged as a judge in contests, as a guest lecturer and conductor in festivals, workshops and concerts, both at national and international levels. Since 1994 he works as a choir professor in the internationally renowned Stockholms Musikgymnasium. With his choirs, he has found remarkable success in choral contests all over the world.
He was born in Tokyo in 1962. He obtained his Composition Degree at the Kunitachi College of Music and graduated in Choral Conducting at the Kodály Institute in Hungary. His works as a music composer are interpreted in Japan and all over the world. As a conductor, he has led several choirs of the Greater Tokyo Area, and has received many awards in international choral competitions.
In 2005, he was the fi rst Asian to be recognised with the Robert Edler Prize of Choral Music.
Choir and orchestra conductor, vocal coach, judge at international contests, choral advisor, speaker and arranger. He is the founder of the Oreya Choir and the Gaudeamus Brno Choir (1996), and has won 10 Grand Prizes and 37 1st Prizes with them. He has been recognised as an Honorary Artist in Ukraine and honoured with the I. Ohiyenko Award. He has taught choral seminars and workshops worldwide, and has conducted symphonic projects in France, Germany, Romania, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. He has been a jury member of the Choir World Games in Busan (South Korea), Bremen (Germany), Xiamin (China) and Wernigerode (Germany). As well in Tolosa (Spain), Marktoberdorf (Germany), Maribor (Slovenia), Riva del Garda (Italy), Artek (Ukraine), Tallin (Estonia) and Bergen (Norway). In addition, he has been the choral advisor of the Czech Republic (2002-2006).
Agua de Insalus
Colegio Hirukide Jesuitinak
Convento de Santa Clara
Euskalherriko Abesbatzen Elkartea
Iglesia de los Franciscanos
Sociedades Populares de Tolosa
Udaberri Dantza Taldea