Choral Souvenir from Barcelona

It’s not just about sharing our true selves … but also some new posts from Barcelona.

After outstanding performances of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Singing in Barcelona, you are kindly invited to listen to some new posts from their main concert in Pau Casals Hall. More than 2.000 conductors from all over the world listened to the concert and gave the girls a resounding standing ovation. The choir won together with the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič high praise for a fantastic choral event.

We congratulate Stanislav Girls’ Choir for the outstanding success and wish to thank them for an incredible promotion of Slovenia, The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and Slovene choral singing.

 

All Is Well That Ends Well!

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Music is everywhere!

The day before returning home the girls took a day off. This long-anticipated day culminated in delightful, carefree sightseeing, enjoying local cuisine, admiring Catalan history and art, exploring the Spanish way of life, swimming in the sea, writing postcards and (souvenir) shopping. A very special event was the VIP tour of Camp Nou Stadium, which definitely resulted in the increase of female FC Barça fans. Another moment set aside from the rest of the day was the sightseeing tour of the Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell, where the girls admired with awe Gaudi’s mastery in forms of shapes, colours and most incredible ideas he came up with. In the forest of Gaudi’s columns, as director Globokar poetically put it, the choir performed one last mini concert. The very last step of this incredible singing adventure in Barcelona was attending Mass and then boarding the bus and hitting the road towards Ljubljana. For the first ten hours there was silence in the air – the girls were sleeping. Afterwards, one could hear relaxed chatting. As the first Slovene choir to perform at any world choral symposium so far St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir felt grateful and at peace. The efforts have definitely paid off! /Kristina & Ana & Nuša, year 4/

Rounding Off 11th WSCM With Even More Music

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Time flies – the last concert in Barcelona

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir performed on 29th July 2017 at the last two enjoyable and successful concerts of 11th World Symposium of Coral Music in Barcelona.

The first concert took place in the most visited Catalan pilgrimage site in Montserrat. Prior to the concert the girls paid visit to Our Lady of Montserrat and thanked Her for all the blessings of the last week, especially for the performances given on the occasion of the world symposium. It was a joy to sing in front of such a large audience – the cathedral was packed with pilgrims from all over the world. Some were so enthusiastic that they even turned up at the final evening concert of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir, which was given in The Caixa Forum, Barcelona. The choir was quite relaxed on stage, showing their pride over what they had achieved. The incredible vigour was presented throughout the concert: thirty-nine singers, the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič and the pianist Primož Bratina were as one. Needless to say, they reached the appreciative audience who enthusiastically gave standing ovations. As after any other concert in Barcelona the girls talked with visitors from all over the world: Chile, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Croatia, Switzerland, Denmark, USA and Slovenia. Again, the girls did an excellent job! Well done ladies!

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir Delivers Stunning Performance in Barcelona

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St. Stanisalv Girls’ Choir – excellency in all aspects

The highly anticipated concert took place on 28th July, 2017 in Auditori, Barcelona. Considering the audience response the event was an unforgettable experience and the girls did a fantastic job! Under the capable direction of Helena Fojkar Zupančič the choir presented the selection of songs, which exceled in versatile style, contemporary features and emphasis on the Slovene choral compositions.

The entire time prior to the concert was dedicated to preparations and final rehearsal details of the highlight of the tour. There was great excitement in the air – nevertheless this was the very first performance of a Slovene choir to sing at any world choral symposium. It was the conductor, Helena Fojkar Zupančič, who broke the ice by singing a verse from a Slovene folk song: God, give us a pleasant evening!, after which the entire choir joined in. Three compositions premiered at the 11th World Choral Symposium, namely Jerusalem by Damijan Močnik (Slovenia), God of the Open Air by Bob Chilcott’s (Great Britain) and My First Angel by Ambrož Čopi (Slovenia). All of them are in one way or other connected with peace, namely peace of mind, God’s peace and peace among religions. Peace is expressed through various musical images and symbols. In this perspective, the choice of programme matched wonderfully the motto of the symposium Colours of Peace.

The audience was thrilled. Each song was accepted with incredible eagerness, especially the world premiere of Jerusalem, composed by Damijan Močnik, composer, conductor and teacher of Music at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium. He, himself, also present and active at the 11th WSCM, commented on the piece: «What was been created is a picturesque and powerful fresco, which united enormous sound contrasts into a fervent prayer for peace«. It seems the audience was more than touched by the idea of unifying in pledge for world peace, as they all sang along the meaningful words taken form the song: May they prosper who love you. The director of St. Stanislav’s Institution Roman Globokar described the concert enthusiastically as »an explosive mixture of topmost choral know-how, coordinated moves, youth thrill and vigour. The listeners were hit in their hearts.« Standing ovations proved he was right. The girls left the stage moved and teary-eyed, winning together with the conductor high praise for a fantastic choral event.

It is strongly believed that St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir certainly lived up to the reputation of outstanding Slovene choral singing. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

First Concert of St. Stanislav Girl’s Choir in Spain

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Happily excited after the first concert

Breaking the ice is never an easy task. The first concert took place in Lloret de Mar. In terms of organisation it was an interesting event and quite an experience; nevertheless, it turned out to be a good practice for concerts to come. Despite not carrying out vocal exercises prior to the concert, it proved to be a success. The audience, among which there were many tourists, was moved by the performance. Some music making took place also after the concert in front of the church and the locals were immediately recognised by several hugs and kisses they bestowed on the girls.

The day ended with some excellent ice cream, bathing in the Mediterranean and a good night’s sleep.

 

St. Stanislav Girl’s Choir sets off … to Barcelona

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On the road to Barcelona there is French Riviera

After having sung inspiringly at three successful concerts in Litija, Ljubljana and Koper, St. Stanislav Girl’s Choir set off to the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona. This was the moment they had long awaited for. Needless to mention all the happy anticipation after having worked and practiced hard, scrupulously and intensively especially during last weeks. The girls are in good hands of the following accompanying adults: Roman Globokar, director of St. Stanislav’s Institution; Helena Fojkar Zupančič, conductor; Primož Bratina, pianist and Marjetka Kozmus, music assistant.
They hit the road in Koper and continued the bus trip through Italy, French Province and finally safely ended up in Barcelona. Especially the stop in Les Baux-de-Provence took their mind off singing and the girls enjoyed to the full the charms of the French Riviera: the stone village perched on a craggy hill, lavender, perfumes and hot sun. Impeccable combination!

Interview with Bob Chilcott: “Music stops us being isolationist, which is something we need to work hard at in our world at the moment.”

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Helena Fojkar Zupančič and Bob Chilcott in Minneapolis, USA in 2017

With these words Bob Chilcott, one of the most active composers and choral conductors in Britain today, pointed to the unifying role music has always had. Chilcott has been involved in choral music most of his life and has poured his energy over the last decade into choral composition, conducting, and promoting choral singing throughout the world. It has been an absolute honour that he wrote a song dedicated to St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium on their singing at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in July 2017 in Barcelona. It bears the title God of the Open Air and is based on a heartwarming ode to nature by Henry Van Dyke, an American poet.

This is how Bob Chilcott kindly appeased girls’ curiosity – and ours as well – in his recent interview. It is a story about Chilcott’s passion for music, commitment to cheerful enjoyment of life and exultation of spirit.

 “I love the freedom of composing.”

Chilcott writes choral and orchestral pieces, but he loves to write music with words, as poetry is another passion of is. He started off as a composer when he was eight years old and went away to choir school and sang every day in a college chapel in Cambridge. He wanted to write the kind of music he sang. Much later, at around 40, he began writing music for upper voices, mainly for young singers. He explains: “I think that the freedom of composing gave me energy which is reflected in quite a lot of the music I have written for upper voices and that has been very important for my work”. As to his inspiration for music writing Chilcott admits the piano played an important role: “I learned the first movement of the Sonatine by Maurice Ravel on the piano and also the second piano prelude by George Gershwin and I thought, I want to write music like that!” It is almost impossible for him to decide which of his composition he likes best. In a way, they reflect his life as it was when he wrote each piece, and this can be both good and bad. However, the work he is most proud of is his large setting of the St John Passion, written in 2014.

One’s private life is always mirrored in human’s creations. Chilcott explains that when you are a musician it is very hard to switch off from music. When he is writing a piece, he thinks about it all the time, so it becomes very much a part of his private and family world. “I love children, I have five of them, and I have always had a childish mind! I also like communicating, and I think all these things are reflected in my works.”

“Music is a thing of great beauty that needs to be learned and loved”

Both the performers and the listeners are always effected by music. That is why he likes live events best and believes that the link between singers and audience is very important. One of the great things about performing is to try and make this connection, as music is so important in our lives. It is a thing of great beauty that needs to be learned and loved. He believes young people have today so many choices when it comes to music – the important thing is to identify with the kind of music you love and work at it.

God of the Open Air:  “I wanted it to be positive and honest.” 

Chilcott admits he was thrilled to discover he would be writing a piece for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir! “I love the sound and energy of a choir like yours”. In the first place, he was looking for a piece that had a good message bursting with energy.  He ended up finding this in a poem by Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), an American author, educator and clergyman. God of the Open Air is a setting of a part of that poem. It took him around a week to write the song. “Normally I think about the piece for a long time and the writing of it then happens quite quickly.” The asymmetric quality of 7 and 5 in a bar pattern appeals to him as when they are quick they can have a pressing urgent feel, which he likes.

First impressions after having listened to the interpretation of his song? “I was thrilled to hear that you sang it much as I imagined it. That is always very touching, because it gives me the feeling that even though I have never met you, we have together managed to make a connection. It is a beautiful connection, because my idea becomes something that you identify with and make your own. That is one of the many magical things that music can do. Thank you!”

Girls’ questions answered in brief:

Did your parents always encourage you to work with music?  “They were not musical, but they encouraged my love of music for which I am very grateful.”

Do you sing yourself?  “I used to be a singer. I sang for 12 years till 1997 with an English group called The Kings Singers.”

Who is your favourite composer and why?  “That’s a very difficult one! I love many composers, the English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis, and the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. In addition, I love Rachmaninov (particularly the 3rd Symphony and the Symphonic Dances,) and I also love the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. I also love Brahms!”

If music were colour, which one would it be? Why?  “Different ones, probably blue, but also yellow, which is my favourite colour!”

What do you do in life, apart from music writing of course?I love sport. I used to play football, and I love the game. I also skip (like a boxer!) every morning for 20 minutes. I have done this for the past 9 years. I used to run. I also like to read novels, and I love to cook as well.”

Which music is particularly dear to your heart?  “I love many different types of music. I like to listen to renaissance English Choral music (there is an English group called Stile Antico, who sing this music beautifully, and I have many of their CDs.) I love German lieder (particularly Schumann). I am a big fan of the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who has a beautiful anarchic energy, which I really like, and she plays the piano brilliantly.  I also love jazz. The American pianist Herbie Hancock is a great favourite of mine. I like jazz/funk as well, particularly the American group The Yellowjackets, who I was lucky enough to work with last year. /girls from St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir and Lily Schweiger Kotar/

 

Damijan Močnik On His Novelty JERUSALEM

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Damijan Močnik

 Composer and conductor Damijan Močnik wrote a composition entitled JERUSALEM  for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir to be performed at 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in July 2017 in Barcelona. Here are some of Močnik’s reflections on the piece: “Jerusalem means »the city of peace«; however, the city reflects the world we live in. Every morning it wakes up in restlessness, conflicts and hatred. The idea for the composition and its final form were maturing through numerous talks with my friend and conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič and at rehearsals with the wonderful St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium.

In the composition JERUSALEM I have used the name of the city in several languages (Egyptian, Aramean, Akkadian, Hebrew, Arab, Greek, Latin and Slovene) and applied the sections from Psalm 121 in 5 languages (English, Hebrew, Arab, Latin and Slovene). As Jerusalem is the holy city for the three biggest monotheistic religions, I have used different images deriving from Jewish, Christian and Muslim music. What has been created is a picturesque and powerful fresco, which depicts on one hand, an enormous contrast, but on the other, a fervent wish for peace.” /Damijan Močnik/

 

Helena Fojkar Zupančič: »What keeps me going? Look at the girls! They are my drive!«

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St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir

These words by Helena F. Zupančič, the conductor of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, rounded off the Gala Concert that took place on 19th April 2017 in St. Stanislav’s Institution. The house was full; almost 800 listeners enjoyed every minute of it, awarding the choir and the prominent guests with standing ovations. No wonder – all performers showed an enviable level of artistry, taking the audience on a music trip from classics to rock, from vocal to instrumental, from Slovene to foreign, from well-established pieces to novelties. Among these, the following songs need to be mentioned: Chilcott’s God of the Open Air, Močnik’s Jerusalem/Yerushalayim and Lebič’ Nekaj je v zraku /Something is in the air/. The concert featured the following guests: WildArt, the winners of the show Slovenia’s Got Talent 2016; internationally renowned vocal ensemble Ingenium Ensemble; (Re)Mixed Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and the programme host Carmen L. Oven.

The event was much more than a fundraising concert for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir to travel to Barcelona and participate in the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in July 2017. The concert marvellously mirrored youth’s beauty, energy and commitment to a common goal. This was a topmost event in terms of content, music and technical qualities. One of the girls from St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir posted the following impressions after the concert:” We all feel contented and thankful. I am still overwhelmed by tonight’s beautiful melodies, incredible energy and heavenly feelings, that still resound inside me. /…/ We feel grateful to all those who came to the concert and support our endeavours, helping our dreams come true. /…/ “.

Helena Fojkar Zupančič says St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir will definitely make a remarkable difference in Barcelona. The goal of the concert was helping the choir to get there. I cannot find more appropriate words to top off this writing than by using the verses of Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona. We had the pleasure of listening to it in the interpretation of (Re)Mixed Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium with two splendid soloists, Marta Močnik and Miha Klemenc:

»Let the songs begin
Let the music play
Make the voices sing
Start the celebration
And cry – Come alive
And shake the foundations from the skies
Ah, Ah, Shaking all our lives …«

/Lily Schweiger Kotar/