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Driving conductors to the top

From the start, the VOICE project decided to dedicate some of its resources to the choir conductors. Being the centre of attention of so many singers, navigating between choirs and orchestras, often across borders, they are instrumental in spreading innovative and creative ideas in the choral world. And it appears that however united Europe seems to be, they are huge differences in the way different nations and traditions envision the role and technique of choral conducting. Different activities geared towards conductors were thus included in the VOICE project. Most conductors are eager to be trained, to be confronted with high level colleagues and to discover new repertoire.

The European Academy for Choral Conductors that took place in Graz, Austria, in September 2012 gathered 19 promising young conductors from 14 countries under the supervision of Johannes Prinz and Franz Jochum, two well seasoned pedagogues. For a week, the conductors took turns to conduct their peers and additional singers, and confront them with a wide repertoire ranging from Brahms to Honegger or Britten. Winning pieces of the EACC12 Choral Composition Award were also prepared and premièred during the final concert. Thanks to a careful selection of the participants, under the demanding but good spirited guidance of Prinz and Jochum, the magic happened and a friendly group was born in which emulation became more important than competition. A rich program of visits and activities also helped to build this team spirit. A wide array of conducting techniques and musical analysis was covered, building new approaches from the ways and means of the participants themselves. No magisterial lecturing, no top-down approach, but an energetic and feisty shake-down of what the conductors took for granted. Each active participant was put in the position to make musical and conducting choices in front of its peers, and everyone was able to share ideas and point of views. If anything, the participants discovered how diverse the approaches to conducting can be, and how enriching it can be to learn from this diversity. The resulting final concert was a highly successful event, the tension of conducting demanding pieces being turned in a joyful force.

Being already part of VOICE, the participants of the Graz Academy are provided privileged access to the Masterclass organised by A Coeur Joie in Vaison la Romaine (France) at the end of next summer (23-28 August 2013). This masterclass will gather 25 participants who will be offered the opportunity to conduct the “Harmonia Ensemble”, an impressive emerging choir from Tokyo. This choir not only won the Grand Prix of the City of Tours in 2011 but was also awarded two consecutive Golden Awards at the National Japan Choir Competition in 2010 and 2011. Dealing with such a world-class choir coming from a very different background, culture and musical aesthetics is an exciting challenge for conductors. But they will not be left alone to face this task. Prof. Brady Allred, from Salt Lake City (USA), will be their mentor, bringing them a step further in their art with his very personal mix of professionalism and sense of humour.

Last but not least, aspiring professional conductors can also apply to a masterclass organised by Länsmusiken / Swicco and the University of Örebro, focusing on symphonic orchestra and choir conducting. It will be hosted in Örebro in Sweden in late October 2013. Under the supervision of performance and recording master Andrew Parrott, (UK), assisted by professor Katarina Andreasson, (SE) and conductor Fred Sjöberg (SE), the students will be offered to work with a symphonic Orchestra and a Choir. The course will conclude with a public closing concert conducted by the students.

Along both masterclasses, the teaching program will include technique lessons, repertoire discovery, aesthetics exchanges and discussions, practical work in rehearsal, methodology of the rehearsal and the performance, singing techniques in intercultural projects and the opportunity to hear live choral concerts.

These courses all contribute to the aim of VOICE by giving young European artists tools to find their own way, to trace their own path. And hopefully, we will follow them on the new inroads they'll open in the ever expanding terra incognita of music.



Anonymous - European Academy for Choral Conductors

I would say that this course was THE BEST course I´ve ever attended. The teachers were much nicer and they gave us much more information than in other courses. I learned so much, and the teachers did so that we feel like a group. That´s very important, because normally at other courses I feel alone and there is are a kind of competition between the students. This time it was an amazing group and felt really appreciated!

Masis – Turkey - European Academy for Choral Conductors

This course is at the top level. I mean, in all aspects. The instructors, the organizers, organizational details, social details. People, one by one were really great. Their approach to this one week was unbelievable. So I learned a lot, both in terms of conducting and sharing. I met a lot of new friends, mostly European of course. So, every person from every country means a new approach.

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