“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/

Brushing up and Finishing Touches: Intensive Singing Practice for St Stanislav Girls’ Choir

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As the only European choir St Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium is close to setting off in February to perform at 2019 American Choral Directors Association in Missury, USA. As the biggest and most important tour of the choir is getting closer and not all songs have yet been shaped to perfection, we had a weekend of intensive choir practice in Ilirska Bistrica. Musically speaking, it was a very productive weekend. Our conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič introduced a few new techniques that really helped us and we made great improvement. But it was not only a weekend of singing 24 hours a day, it was also a weekend spent with friends we had made in the choir. If you ask me, positive energy plays a big role in the success of our choir.

Singing in such an amazing choir that teaches us not only to sing but also to be disciplined and work in a larger group is a privilege. Singing in front of international audience in foreign countries is an even greater privilege and for that we are infinitely thankful. Even if it is often hard and tiring, we know that our work will be rewarded.

As our conductor has said many times: we strive for perfection to achieve greatness. /Gloria Ema Glas, year 4/

Gala Concert of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir with Guests

Singing is about sharing my true self

Warmly welcome to the gala concert which will be presented in the sports hall of The Alojzij Šuštar Primary School in St. Stanislav’s Institution /Štula 23, Ljubljana/ on 4th February 2019 commencing at 7.00 pm. The concert will feature St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, its conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič and some prominent guests: Marta Močnik Pirc, Ana Benedik, Manca Malovrh, Tine Bec, Tilen Lotrič along with the orchestra Simfonija 23 under the baton of Jera Petriček Hrastnik and assisstant Matija Krečič .

This a fundraising concert in aid of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, who is to perform at the 2019 America Choral Directors Association National Conference in February 2019 in Kansas City, Missuri, USA. This event brings together choirs, choral musicians, composers and publishers form the entire world. St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir is the only European choir to perform there, along with 50+ choirs from the US, 4 honor choirs and 11 iconic conductors.

Tickets  (to buy call Tina Tandler at +386(0)1 58 22 245) are limited due to the capacity of the venue, and are expected to sell out – so book early to avoid disappointment!

Please consider attending the Gala Concert when forming your itinerary. Make a plan to be with us and support  St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of the DCG in their artistic endeavours.

Sharing My True Self – Concert at the 20th Anniversary of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir


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Singing in the choir is about sharing just about everything.

Visiting a Friend

The concert was held on 26th October 2017 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir. It felt like visiting a friend – the audience enjoyed the homely atmosphere, honesty was in the air and the choir greeted the listeners with the song on its lips: “God grant us a good evening!” In this way, the host shares with the guest his greatest treasure – a sonorous gift, which the audience treasures for rainy days – everybody his own song in his own way. Songs become virtually alive under the experienced hands of the conductor Helena Fojkar Zupančič.

Choir’s Mission is to Share

The choir prides itself on clear sound, sharp focus and valid interpretation of the conductor’s determined, yet soft moves. When something beautiful is created it needs to be shared with others, which is why sharing is the key word in choir’s mission statement: »Singing in the choir is about sharing just about everything: discipline, hard work, fellowship, focus, trust, vigour and a love for singing. The moment a beautiful sonority is created, it is time to pass it on through concert performance. When sharing their true selves in front of the audience, the girls become an inspiration for others and the mission is accomplished. Thus, music is changing the world we live in«. It is a bold statement that the choir changes the world, but this is exactly what the girls do. On the stages in Slovenia and abroad, they perform with ease and self-confidence, easily deal with big concert halls and convincingly interpret various musical genres in front of the world’s greatest choral authorities.

 Freedom and Hard Work

 From a distance the choir makes a great impression, but from close up it is simply inspiring. Girls are humble, grateful and ready to talk. Obviously, they are willing to sacrifice a lot of time for choir singing. Endless gestures and repeated tones offer an impression of stunning synchronisation. They trust the conductor’s personal charisma and her leadership, as Helena Fojkar Zupančič leaves them freedom for creativity, but she also demands hard work, which brings about singing at such a high level and satisfaction with good work at concerts or rehearsals. With her clear vision, this balance is not difficult to keep. Teachers in the classroom learn from the young singers as well – they are joy-bearers and optimists; they are a living proof of what is possible if you have a motive and love.

A New CD Jerusalem

On the 20th anniversary of St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium a new CD was released. It features also the songs sang at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona this summer. Three novelties need to be mention as they were composed specifically for this occasion for St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir. These are Jerusalem by Damijan Močnik, My First Agel by Ambrož Čopi and God of the Open Air by Bob Chilcott. The composers reflect upon their works in the CD sleeve notes. The songs from the CD are timeless, however, with every concert they gain on quality interpretation. With the new CD, the choir is coming to our homes; girls’ singing places you in an entire new space and time, if you only want it. Open paths invite us to follow the girls in the future as well – this is not difficult, providing you love music. St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir gives a formative influence on the audience and hopefully the choir will continue to surprise with unique singing, its presence and other musical gifts they share generously with us. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/