The 20th Jubilee Singing – Language Exchange in Trenčín, Slovakia

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The traditional exchange with three Slavic Gymnasiums is taking place from 18th – 22nd March 2019. This year Piarist Gymnasium from Trenčín hosts students from Piarist Lyceum from Krakow, Poland and those from The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Traditionally, students exchange their knowledge of singing as well as of all three Slavic mother tongues, namely Slovak, Polish and Slovene. This time St. Stanislav’s Youth Choir under the conductorship of Damijan Močnik represents the singing force of DCG.

 This is how one of the participants experienced the first days in Trenčín. “After hours of driving and a short lunch break in Bratislava, we finally arrived at our destination. The choir had the first practice there, and members of the language group had a mass with our priest Martin Zlobko. Afterwards, we had dinner in the school, and some of the choir members left with host families, and the other went to the hostel.  On Tuesday, we got up early and headed to school for breakfast. Having enjoyed a lesson of Slovak, the choirs had another practice, and the language group met with students from Poland and Slovakia. We talked about famous architects from our countries and designed posters in our native languages.  In the afternoon we visited Trenčin Castle. We enjoyed the afternoon sightseeing the city  and some free time there. In the evening we left for a nearby town where we attended the mass. The choir was singing and gave a short concert in the church. We spent a pleasant evening with our host families”. /Eva Sedej, year 2/

Ars Amatoria for the World Poetry Day

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Practical Advice by Ovid on Art of Love

In recognition of world poetry day the students of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium prepared a recital of ancient Roman poetry. The event took place in Dr. Anton Breznik Library on 21st March 2019. The passages from Ovid’s Art of Love and other pieces of poetry were read and interpreted by second year students. They proved that the theme of love and courtship have not changed much through times. It was  a perfect and occasionally humorous celebration of the first spring day.

World Poetry Day was declared by UNESCO in 1999. Each year the focus is given on some particular poet and his/her works.  One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression. In celebrating the occasion the school community recognizes  the outstanding ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

St Stanislav’s Institution Joins Homer’s Iliad World Public Reading

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Homer’s Iliad is one of the earliest work in the Western literary tradition and one of the best loved stories of all times. It will be read by almost six thousand readers from all over the world and Dragica Fabian Andritzakos, teacher of Latin and ancient Greek at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, is to join them with some other Slovene humanities lovers in Ljubljana. Students of the DCG will join the audience as well. The public reading will be carried out on the world level during the 13th European Latin Greek Festival, which will take place in Lyon, France from 20th to 24th March 2019. The Iliad is an epic poem, which recounts some of the meaningful events of the final weeks of the Trojan War and the Greek siege of the city of Troy.

The event in Slovenia will take place on 22nd  March 2019 in The National Gallery (Prešernova 24, Ljubljana) at 10 a.m. Welcome to experience Iliad in the ways that Ancient Greeks might have done. This is one of the ways to celebrate classical poetry and culture.  /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

“Good job, Slovenia!” & “You are the highlight of this year’s conference; you are a gift from heaven.”

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Music’s Potential – Getting Global

… are just two of the praises St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium won after the second appearance at 2019 ACDA in Kansas City on 28th February. Many professionals returned to listen to the choir after yesterday’s concert. The atmosphere in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre was amazing, there was an extraordinary bond between the singers and the audience. The girls were singing as one, trying to convey their joyous heart and all the knowledge they had gained. Young ladies were proudly expressing the most charming and sunny aspect of the choir’s mission which is to share their true selves. Compliments kept pouring in and Helena Fojkar Zupančič as well as Damijan Močnik felt extremely proud – after all St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir is the only Slovene choir to perform at both biggest choral events in the last two years: 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona (July 2017) and 2019 National Conference of American Choral Directors Association in Kansas City, Missouri. Some top observations of the concert: “I was utterly amazed when the conductor gave the sign to the choir to start singing and then she stepped aside. The girls sang independently and mastered the choreography on their own!; The choir filled our hearts with wonder.; Your performance was astonishing and simply wonderful. Thank you for coming to the US and inspiring us.; Unbelievable sound! OMG!”

The attenders marvelled at the fact that the choir is not a part of a music high school, that this incredible level of performing was achieved only by three and a half practice lessons per week and that a third of singers change every academic year. The following day some girls participated in a number of intriguing workshops, lectures and concerts. It felt great to be a part of the 2019 ACDA story from the listener’s perspective as well. Now the work is done. Well done indeed! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Listen to St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir in Kansas City at https://www.instagram.com/p/Bud3De9gmR7/

It’s time to shine in Kansas City!

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Sharing Their True Selves

The 27th February 2019 was the day of great anticipation for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir. It was the day of the concert the girls had been working for the last two years. They welcomed the evening in peace, listening attentively to the final tips finishing touches by Helena Fojkar Zupančič.

Before entering the warming up room in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, the executive director of ACDA Tim Sharp welcomed the choir. He spoke vividly of his happy memory when inviting St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir to the conference in KC immediately after having listened ot the concert at 2018 World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona, Spain. He wished the chior the best of luck saying the girls would never sing in front of so many attentive, demanding and grateful listeners as that night. The performance itself started with the conductor’s solo in May God Grant us A Good Evening. Already after the first song the choir surprisingly received an enthusiastic applaud. When the pianist Primož Bratina joined the choir it was time for Ipavec’ Winter Song – what an appropriate title for the winter conditions far from springlike Slovenia! One of the highlights of the evening was Močnik’s Jesualem, during which the audience was invited so sing along the following verse: May they prosper who love you. The musicians, conductors, educators and choral directors from all over the world sang the meaningful words and expressed their enthusiasm with seemingly endless standing ovations. Hard work paid off, the girls and the conductor were more than pleased with every single detail they managed to express through music. The evening was the embodiment of a  worthwhile quote by John Rutter, one of keynote speakers at 2019 ACDA : “Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It connects the human race, and choral music is a supreme example of this wonderful and beautiful power… which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world. That’s a lesson for our times and for all times”. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

From Cleveland to Kansas City – Despite Strong Stormy Weathers

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Nothing would be possible without these two ladies – Tina and Silvija

This is an account by two choir singers: “We started the next day with a holy mass and singing a few songs for those who might have missed our concert the day before. Then we headed to St Vitus Church nearby to participate in charity brunch for the local Slovene school in Clevelnad. Unfortunately, there was an electricity due to extreme winds, so we had to sing in complete darkness. What followed was an incredibly romantic candlelight meal. We spent the afternoon with our host families and some of us had the opportunity to see the Slovene Pristava, a lovely place for events or gatherings for the Slovenians. Each family also has a small chalet that they use at weekends or for special occasions. When we returned home, we found out that our flight was cancelled due to strong winds so we didn’t have to wake up at 2 am. Some girls decided to spend their evening in front of a TV watching the Oscars, or at least commenting on the outrageously extravagant dresses the actresses wore.

Luckily, the incredible Tina and Silvija resolved the travelling situation of the cancelled flight and organised the bus which took us directly to Detroit airport. We flew to Kansas City and drove to our hotel. After getting comfortable in our hotel rooms, the teachers took us to a nearby quality restaurant (Wendy’s – cheap and good, in Mr. Močnik’s opinion). After lunch, we took a long walk around the truck parked a little farther up the street. We had a rehearsal in the evening and a healthy dinner after that. However, the best news of the day was that we would be able to get 10 hours of sleep”. /Glorija Ema Glas & Vida Kravanja, year 4/

Cleveland Slovene Community – Feels Like Home

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Warm Welcome by the Slovene Community

The Slovene families took a really good care of the girls starting with a warm welcome and continuing with huge and delicious breakfasts. After having explored the city of Cleveland and enjoyed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Science Museum or the Cleveland Museum of Art, a rehearsal took place before the evening concert in St. Mary’s Church. This was the last concert before the ACDA appearance in Kansas City. The church was packed, as the Slovenes poured in from near and far. The choir was honoured by the presence of the Consul General at Consulate General of the Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland Andrej Rode and his family. It was a privilege to sing in front of the audience who feel so closely attached to the homeland of Slovenia, yet living in the US for several decades. People were genuinely moved by the Slovene songs and no wonder the verse I really tell you, nothing compares to the Slovene Land  brought tears in their eyes. The afterparty was a joyous feast with the sounds of the accordion, happy dancers – even Damijan Močnik joined in – and loads of delicious food prepared by the hosting families. Some girls got acquainted with some distant relatives and friends. Everybody wished the choir the very best of luck with performing in front of the demanding, international audience at the conference ACDA in Kansas City. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Experiencing Toronto From a Slovene and Tourist Perspective

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Maria Ahačič Pollak with St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir

After some sightseeing in Toronto and admiring an imposing view of this cosmopolitan city from the 553-meter CN Tower, the following afternoon was spent in another Slovene parish Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church in Etobicoke. The parish priest Tine Batič, uncle of internationally renowned Slovene choir conductor Martina Batič, gave the party a warm welcome. There was a lot of publicity for the concert – also on the local radio Voice of Canadian Slovenians, thanking to the producer Maria Ahačič Pollak, a former ensemble Avseniki singer. No wonder the concert was very well attended. It was an absolute honour to welcome Cveta Arhar Stojko, who attended the concert together with her spouse Štefan. Cveta Arhar Stojko is a long serving supporter of St. Stanislav’s Institution. AS the founder if Frank Arhar Scholarship Fund she has been financing the tuition for 3-5 DCG students annually since the reestablishment of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in 1993.  »What divine singing!« she commented after the concert. »My thanks go to the artistic director Helena Fojkar Zupančič and St. Stanislav’s Institution. We spend such a lovely evening together!« Equipped with all the choir’s CDs, she took home a piece of concert and lots of girls’ enthusiasm, for which she felt most grateful. The audience was especially moved by the following songs Cold wind, What is the matter young lady?, My Slovene Land and Oh, Triglav, my Home. When the last song Now the Work is Done was performed and quietly sang along, the girls felt the audience’s gratitude for bringing on the stage a piece of home land. A touching moment indeed for everybody in the church. BTW – Happy Birthday Ana Lucija! Best people celebrate in February, don’t they? /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium: Setting off to Canada and the USA

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Hamilton Children’s Choir and St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir Sharing a Song

The long anticipated grand tour started on 18th February 2019 when St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir with the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič and other accompanying persons set off first to Toronto, Canada. It was quite a shock to experience fierce winter and low tempertures there. Nevertheless, The Niagara Falls charmed the girls with their majestic appearance and roaring waters and the best tourist guide ever – Damijan Močnik. The first singing practice started already on the second day. The choir also met  the  welcoming members of the Slovene community living in one of the nearby parishes, who provided for delicious snacks and most pleasant company.

The first pre-concert practice took place in St. Gregory the Great Slovenian Church in Hamilton, Otario. Diligent local ladies prepared some unforgettable beef sour, apple studel and potica (Slovene traditional walnut roll cake). It really felt like home. The concert itself took place in Christ Church Cathedral, Hamilton. One of the most prominent world youth choirs  Hamilton Children’s Choir was there to perform with St. Stanislav Girl’s Choir. Hamilton Children’s Choir’s heart and soul is its Artistic Director Zimfira Poloz, an energetic and inspiring  Kazhkstan born, who took the choir to most important world competitions and festivals. It was an honour for the Slovene girls to sing together. The evening ended with two jointly sung pieces, which made the audience feel the heartiness of young singers and awarded them with standing ovations. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Helena Fojkar Zupančič: “Now it is Time for Pure Pleasure.”

Singing With Passion (Photo: Tilen Miklavič)

The gala fundraising concert of St. Stanislav Girl’s Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium which took place on 4 January 2019 started with a welcoming song: God grant us a good evening. Indeed the evening was grand in all perspectives from the singing girls, conductors, repertoire, soloists, the Alumni orchestra to the eloquent and amiable programme host Jure Sešek.

The above mentioned choir is the only European choir to be invited to perform at the 2019 American Choral Directors Association Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The full house enjoyed in particular the femininity of the choir in its best sense of the word: gentle, yet strong and determined in their music expression, the girls presented a part of American programme which coprised impeccable singing, imposing sound and complex choreography matching the melodies with great precision. We listened to an appeal for peace in Močnik’s Jerusalem; accurate merging of movement and sound in Jennefelt’s Noviori Ani; Makaroff’s melodious perception of human transience in the image of a Butterfly’s life’s brevity and finally an energetic and playful stamping of feet and clapping took place in the piece And so we dance in Resia.

In the short interview the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič said that the hard work is mostly over. “Now it is time for pleasure and we all feel the joy of anticipation”. Gloria Ema Glas, the girls’ representative did not complain about numerous rehearsals, but expressed her enthusiasm for the opportunity to set off to Kansas City. “If I did not sing in this choir, my singing would not be that good and my personal growth would be underdeveloped. Friendly relationships in the choir boost excellence.” She spoke thankfully about the strong impact Helena Fojkar Zupančič has on the girls.

The evening was rounded with some solo singing by prominent guests and the premiere appearance of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium Alumni Orchestra under the baton of Jera Petriček Hrastnik and her assistant Matija Krečič. Special thanks go to anybody who has participated in whatever way for this concert to be a huge success. In particular sincere thanks go to the sponsors, whose generous support is truly appreciated.

The last song, Foster’s and Sager’s The prayer, adequately ended the poignant musical evening. The audience was pleased, calm and fully appreciative of the girls’ and conductor’s endeavours. We left the hall under the impression of the programme host portraying vividly in his mind the image of St. Stanislav trying to silence his fellow saints in heaven saying “Hush up guys, my girls are singing tonight.” Indeed, tonight’s concert felt like a little piece of heaven. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/