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Uniformity, precision, lightness and humour – these are the hallmarks of Calmus, one of the most successful vocal groups in Germany today. The ensemble has a quality of sound which very few have achieved. The wide range of tone colours, the joy of making music which the musicians convey on the stage as well as their varied and imaginative programme are all a subject of constant praise from the press.
The five singers from Leipzig have won lots of international prizes and competitions, among them the ECHO classic and the SUPERSONIC awards. The radius of their activities is constantly being extended and has led them through the whole of Europe as well as North and South America. In 2010 the quintet gave its debut in the New York Carnegie Hall!
The musicians are tireless in their search for new repertoire. Shaped in the centuries old tradition of German boys’ choirs, they are naturally at home in the vocal music of the renaissance, baroque and romantic periods. However music from our period is also important to them. In all aspects of their work there are very often new and interesting partnerships with such ensembles as the Lautten Compagney Berlin, the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, the Hamburg Ratsmusik or Hessen Radio Big Band. Because these often mean having a completely new repertoire of contemporary music, Calmus has over the years commissioned works, among others by Bernd Franke, Steffen Schleiermacher, Wolfram Buchenberg, Mathew Rosenblum, Bill Dobbins, Michael Denhoff and Harald Banter and has premiered their pieces. The fact that they also love singing pop, folk and jazz as well as chansons and evergreens from the twenties goes without saying! However the five singers are also dedicated to singing religious music which finds particularly powerful expression among others in their performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Part of their time is dedicated to the promotion of young talent and teaching and workshops are part of their everyday life, at home in Leipzig or elsewhere. It is no wonder that Calmus, with its unique combination of soprano, countertenor, tenor, baritone and bass, has an increasing number of fans throughout the world - including the enthusiastic public in the Allgäu region. After their appearances during Musica Sacra International 2008 they are returning this year to Marktoberdorf with a new programme of religious music.
The Capella de la Torre is a collection of musicians who have made a name for themselves as specialists in the field of authentic historical performance. The main aim of the ensemble is to give professional performances of the rich fund of music from the middle ages and renaissance, which has been largely ignored until now, and hand on the experience directly to their audiences.
The name „de la Torre“ can be understood in two ways: the group dedicates itself in particular to music for historical wind instruments such as the shawm, bombard, dulcian, sackbut and cornett, known contemporarily as the „Capella Alta“. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spaniard, Francisco de la Torre, composed the best known piece for this combination of instruments, his „Danza Alta“. In addition to this homage to the composer, the name can also be understood literally: „De la Torre“, translated, means „from the tower“. Wind ensembles, known in Spain as Ministriles, often performed from towers or balconies at festivals and other official events. And so in many towns there are the „Torres de los Ministriles“, and the name Francisco de la Torre was also certainly not a coincidence.
The Capella de la Torre does not however concentrate just on Spanish music but has also dedicated itself to the „Hauts Instruments“, in other words the „loud instruments“ which were to be found throughout Europe. The mediaeval meaning of the word „loud“ has not so much to do with the volume of the sound but rather with overwhelming, and impressive. It is the very power of the music which has impressed people from then until now. It is in this sense that the ensemble has taken up the musical tradition of the Ministriles, Piffari and Stadtpfeifer.
Virtuoso, sophisticated playing of the shawm, bombard and dulcian also involves modulating the volume. The ensemble is also supplemented by song, flutes, organ and lutes. The repertoire, which will be presented in different programmes, includes secular and religious music from the 14th to the 17th centuries. In this way, the singers and players recall the musical splendour of times long past.
The instrumental make up of Capella de la Torre, composed mainly of historical double reed instruments, provides an experience which is extremely seldom in the modern music world and could be described as being unique in Germany.
At Musica Sacra International, the ensemble will present excerpts from its programme „Luther’s Wedding Music“. It is presumed that on the occasion of the wedding of Martin Luther with Katharina von Bora, the socially suitable music performed by the Stadtpfeifer would have been an important part of the feast, starting with the procession to the church service in the morning and going through to the ceremonial dances in the evening
The repertoire of the five musicians of the ensemble combines the harmony and rhythms of the sacred gipsy cultural diversity of Provence through historical songs. This diversity reflects the richness of the influences of different communities settled in Provence since the Middle Ages. The repertoire covers four languages (Kalo, Spanish, Latin and Provençal).
Settled since the Middle Age near Saintes Maries de la Mer in Camargue, the gipsy community has for many years contributed to the richness of the rural celebrations of traditional Provence with their cante flamenco. The musicians of Chants Sacrés Gitans en Provence explore this rich folk repertoire, revealing the extraordinary and ancestral interwining of Andalusian, Catalan and Provençal vocal music and having developed an excellent quality in their music after years of live performance. The ensemble unites accomplished singers and musicians who deliver a powerful performance that reflects their passionate devotion to such a multi-facetted heritage.
The artistic project is centered on the voices of three singing instrumentalists, with gipsy, Andalusian and Provençal roots, and two solo musicians (Flamenco guitar and keyboard). Far from the usual stereotypes, the programme is characterized by its authenticity, the scarcity of its repertoire and the powerful interpretation of its performers. The repertoire contains very rare songs from the sacred tradition of the gipsy families in Provence such as the cult of Sainte Maries, procession chants and pilgrim songs from the Way of St. James.
Tchoune Tchanelas is a singer of gypsy origin and is the founder of the group with which he has performed on most major European stages for many years. Under his artistic direction, his inspiration guides the artists through the sacred traditions of the gipsy families and of Provence, on the paths of Saint Jacques de Compostelle and Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in Camargue, an important gipsy pilgrimage centre near Marseille.
The Fayha Choir, a remarkable mixed ensemble which was founded in 2003 by its conductor, Barkev Taslakia, brings together 40 young male and female singers from Tripoli and the North Lebanon Mediterranean coast. The members represent all the religious faiths worshipped by the Lebanese population, its programme is mainly Christian but also contains a rich selection of Arabian music (Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Andalusian...) as well as a number of international works, for example from France, England and Armenia. This great variety demonstrates the choir’s openness towards the whole human cultural inheritance – and that in a country which is beset by political tensions and struggles. Most of the Arabian pieces were arranged by Edward Torikian. The aim of the choir is, on the one hand to spread knowledge of Arabian music, its importance and its rich variety and also to paint a musical picture of the Lebanon, its Arabian neighbours and their peoples.
The Fayha Choir has given successful concerts in the Lebanon and abroad: in Poland (Krakow, Lodz and Warsaw) with 1st prizes at the “International Warsaw Choir Festival 2007" for the best choir and the best conductor, as well as in Abu Dhabi, Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, France, Canada, China (Expo Shanghai 2010), Qatar (2010 & 2011), Cyprus, Bahrain and Kuwait.
It is a member of the International Federation for Choral Music and the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat.
Conductor: Barkev Taslakian
Born in 1964 in Anjar (Lebanon), Barkev Taslakian was attracted to music from his earliest childhood. At first he taught himself to play various instruments. In the early 80s he taught himself solfège and extended his musical knowledge. In 1986 he began his musical career by conducting the “Ardzivian” choir. Between 1992 and 1998 he studied under the conductor Harutyun Topikyan and the composer Yervand Yerkanyan at the Parsegh Kanatchian Music Academy in Beirut. Since 1997 he has also regularly worked in Armenia with a number of musicians and conductors and with a dozen choirs in Lebanon and Armenia. At the present time, Barkev Taslakian conducts the Fayha Choir (Tripoli and North Lebanon) and the UNESCO Choir (Lebanon). With these two choirs he has travelled in Lebanon, Armenia (2001, 2004 and 2008), Turkey, Syria (1989 and 2010), Jordan (2003 and 2008), Cyprus (2002, 2003 and 2011), Nagorno Karabakh (2004 and 2008), Poland (2005 and 2007), Tunisia (2008 and 2009), the Arabian Emirates (2008 and 2011), Egypt, France, Canada, China, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
He has won numerous prizes, from the UNESCO, the Armenian Ministry for Culture, the Safadi Foundation and from the Lebanese Ministry of Culture.
Barkev Taslakian has been invited to a great number of international conferences and workshops. He is a member of the Working Circle for Professional Artists in the Lebanon and is a founding member of the Arabian Choral Festival Aswatuna.
The Munich Iberisi Choir brings together young Georgian singers who have made it their aim to make known, through their music, the cultural diversity of Georgia and the various ways of life in the different regions of their home country.
With their songs, the singers tell the history of Georgia, seeking to demonstrate acoustically the special nature of Georgian polyphony. The development of Georgian polyphony preceded European polyphonic singing by several centuries. It was born in the period before Christ. There are a lot of indications that this style of singing was a completely independent cultural development without any outside influences. A further special aspect is also the polyphonic variety – in Georgia there are seven different types of polyphony which are sung in the 15 regions. It was because of this special characteristic that Georgian polyphony was recognised by the UNESCO as being a world cultural heritage.
The central aim of the choir is to cultivate and demonstrate the polyphony in its original form and richness. The repertoire includes new Georgian choral music, hymns composed by Illia II., The Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church and folk songs from the period before Christ, some of which are regarded as being the oldest recorded songs in the whole world.
Conductor: Davit Kintsurashvili
Davit Kintsurashvili was born in 1978 in Tiflis. He studied choral conducting at the State Conservatory in Tiflis, graduating with a bachelor and a master’s degree. During his activities as conductor, accompanist and choral conductor at the State Conservatory in Tiflis he concentrated his activities on early music and the music of contemporary Georgian composers. In 2003 he came to Munich where he studied orchestral conducting under Prof. Bruno Weil at the University for Music and Drama (degree and master class).
Since 2006 he has often worked as a lecturer in workshops and master classes and conducted numerous concerts and opera performances with different orchestras, mainly in Germany and Georgia. Davit Kintsurashvili has been the artistic director of the Iberisi Choir since 2008.
Mimi Sheffer, singer and cantor, grew up in Israel. While she was studying the flute and singing at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv she received a grant from the Israel-America Cultural Foundation and won the Kol Israel competition (Israel National Radio). She performed as a singer in various opera productions, festivals and oratorios in Israel. After continuing her singing studies under Joan Caplan in New York, she became the principal cantor at the West End Synagogue (NYC) and the Temple Emanuel (West Hartford, Connecticut). In Berlin, she was the cantor at the Oranienburger Straße Synagogue.
As a soprano, she has a very great voice with a powerfully radiant volume and an extensive range, regularly gives solo concerts, records CDs and often takes part in radio broadcasts. As a solo singer, she has performed great synagogal works from Bloch, Ben-Haim, Braun and others with the Berlin Symphonic, the Resonanz Hamburg and the Essen Operatic Choir and Orchestra, with the Senfchor, sirventes, Vox Nova Munich and the Berlin Sing Academy.
However, her main interest is in the revival of synagogal and art music by Jewish composers from Europe, together with the dialogue between religions and cultures.
From 2003 to 2010, Mimi Sheffer was a lecturer at the Rabbinical Seminary Abraham Geiger Kolleg and from 2007 to 2010 she was Director and founder of the Jewish Institute of Cantorial Arts there. The institute trains cantors for Jewish congregations.
In addition, she is co-founder and Academic Director of the Schatz.pl-programme in Warsaw. The aim of the programme is to train amateur prayer leaders for Europe.
Since 2013, Mimi Sheffer has taught at the University for Jewish Studies in Heidelberg and worked as Artistic Director for the music project „A Series of Jewish Music for Enthusiasts & the Curious“.
For the Musica Sacra International concerts she will be accompanied on the organ or the piano by the young pianist Mirlan Kasymaliev.
Mirlan Kasymaliev finished his studies of the piano in Kazan, Russia under Prof.Sergei Rabotkin and Prof.Elsa Achmetova and of the organ under Elena Basova and Prof.Rektor Rubin Abdoullin in 1998 with an excellent concert performer’s degree. From 1998 - 2002 he held a scholarship from the „Alfred-Sittard-Stiftung“ and the „Käthe Dorsch - Stiftung“. He took part in various master courses, among others with Wolfgang Zerer, Ludger Lohmann and Peter Planyavsky as well as a number of organ competitions such as the „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Organ competition“ in Berlin. Nowadays he is a freelance organist, pianist and choral correpetitor, in addition giving solo concerts and working together with various ensembles.
„As in every religious tradition, in Buddhism too, sounds and voices play an important part in the religious practice. But sounds and voices are not only important in religious practice, Sounds and voices are an inseparable part of our lives and are indispensable for our lives. This does not just apply for people, but for all beings. Every being which has consciousness, relies on sound and has a close relationship to it“. Thus wrote the Honorable Lama Gonsar Rinpotsche in his treatise on sound and voice*. In addition, he writes: „Singing a prayer has a very particular effect on us human beings, who are so dependent on our senses. (...) For this reason, every religion has its own religious songs. The songs in Buddhism go back to the great Masters and their meditative experiences. For this reason, the melodies are preserved and passed on through the generations“.
The Honorable Gonsar Rinpotsche is the Abbot of the Rabten Choeling Monastery in Switzerland. The Rabten Choeling Centre, situated on Mont-Pelerin above Lake Geneva, is an institute for higher Tibetan studies and also an authentic Buddhist monastery with thirty monks, five nuns and twenty lay students. It is an international school with students from fourteen different countries. The monks who live there follow the rules of the Vinaya. Daily prayers, confessional rituals and monthly Pudschas (intensive meditation sessions) are an important part of their spiritual lives.
Monks from the Rabten Choeling Centre have already visited Musica Sacra International twice, in 1992 and 1998. The group is not a professional music ensemble because such a thing does not exist in Tibetan Buddhism. This is because making music makes up part of the training of every monk as a means of communicating with the divinities. It is not virtuoso playing which is important here but the sound itself together with the ritual movement of the hands and the visualization. The group of monks will sing excerpts from their Tibetan Buddhist prayers, accompanied by instruments from the monastery: low and high cymbals, drums, oboes, conch shell horns, small bells, small hand drums and long horns.
Meknes is a city with some 600.000 inhabitants in Northern Morocco at the foot of the central Atlas Mountains and capital of the Meknès-Tafilalet region. Its name comes from the Berber tribe of the Miknasa who originally lived in the area.
The Rouh Ensemble works together with world musicians in a traditional sense and has set itself the goal of preserving the special inheritance of the Moroccan, North African and Arabian music traditions. It allows its public a glimpse of the cultural riches of Morocco. The group is made up of music teachers, outstanding instrumentalists and a choir. The ensemble’s aim is to be part of the national and international artist scene and to give a new importance to spiritual and religious music. To achieve this, they use the rich Moroccan heritage, blending in other styles such as those of the Islamic Sufi orders Gnawa and Assaiouna, without losing their Moroccan authenticity. „Nowadays, tolerance and love are becoming more and more rare. So it is our human and musical task to spread a universal message in order to revive these values which are decisive for a happy life.“
Sufi music is the general term for regionally different styles of religious music in Islam and is part of the ritual religious practices of members of the Sufi order.
In many Tariqas (Dervish orders) music is usually performed which often just consists of singing, in other Tariqas, however, it is also accompanied by instruments. The music is a component of the Dhikr (remembrance of God), for in the songs, either God’s name is recited or they sing about their love of God or the Prophet Mohamed. Later, the lyrical works of well-known Sufi poets such as Rumi or Yunus Emre were partly taken over and used as song texts.
Yassine Habibi, die Goldene Stimme von Meknes
Yassine Habibi was born in 1984 in Meknes, the city of art, civilization and authenticity. In this imperial city, Yassine learned the secret of singing while bring his study of humanistic to an end. Even at an early age he showed his talent at a local level performing traditional spiritual songs. His greatest success was his participation in the singing competition „Munshid Sharjah 3“, on the TV channel Sharjah in the United Arabian Emirates, where he represented Morocco and after 60 appearances ended up as Vice Master.
Fostering the Jewish sacred music tradition and making it available to a larger range of audiences were the aims of Senior Cantor Werner Sander as he founded the Leipzig Synagogal Choir in 1962. The first concert was held in May 1963 in Dresden. With the help of the Leipzig Concert and Guest Performance Agency the choir sang in Halle, Erfurt, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig. The choir was also a guest in Jewish congregations. In July 1972, the tenor Helmut Klotz was appointed Artistic Director. Under his leadership, the ensemble developed to become a semi-professional concert choir with high artistic standards. The increasing number of concerts at home and abroad was a sign of the growing respect for the artistic work of the ensemble, which performed at numerous diplomatically significant events such as the memorial concert for Yitzhak Rabin in 1996 in Berlin and the concert in the Dresden Frauenkirche on the occasion of its official re-opening in 2006.
Many tours abroad led the choir, among others, to the Ukraine (1993), the USA (1994), to Spain and Portugal (1996), South Africa (1998) and Brazil (2005). The Leipzig Synagogal Choir was a guest in Israel in 1993 and 2010. As a symbol of reconciliation, the ensemble was permitted by a decision of the Knesset to sing in the Synagogue of the Holocaust Memorial Centre Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
The Leipziger Synagogal Choir fosters, among other things, synagogal music from Samuel Alman, Samuel Lampel, Abraham Dunajewski, David Nowakowski and Samuel Naumbourg. The Hebrew texts of the songs of worship are psalms and prayers as well as religious texts from the Talmud. In its interpretations, the Leipzig Synagogal Choir preserves the old Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew as was the custom in German synagogues before the holocaust, whereas modern Hebrew in Israel today is characterized by the Sephardic pronunciation. In accordance with Jewish tradition and synagogue practice, the compositions are mainly performed as an exchange between the cantor and the choir a cappella or accompanied by an organ or a piano.
Dir.: Ludwig Böhme
Ludwig Böhme, born in 1979 in Rodewisch, was from 1989 to 1998 a member of the Thomaner Choir in Leipzig and worked after his time in the choir until 2002 as assistant to the Thomas Cantor. He studied at the „Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy“ University for Music and Drama in Leipzig. After graduating with excellence there followed a supplementary degree course with a final exam as concert performer. His teachers included Georg Christoph Biller and Horst Neumann, courses with the King’s Singers, Ton Koopman and Morten Schuldt-Jensen providing further impulses.
Since 2002 he has conducted the Josquin des Préz Chamber Choir with which he has won several prizes. Since 2004, Ludwig Böhme has initiated and led as Artistic Director the concert series „Josquin – the project“, the first performances in the world of all the works by Josquin des Préz in Leipzig. In April 2012 he took over as conductor of the Leipzig Synagogal choir.
The group „Tenores di Bitti Remunnu ’e Locu“ from the Province of Nuoro in north eastern Sardinia was founded in 1974. The group is made up of Daniele Cossellu (71), the precentor and leader of the group (Oche/ Mesu oche), Mario Pira (38) (Bassu); Pier Luigi Giorno (26) (Contra); and Piero Sanna (62) (Oche/ Mesu oche)
The "Canto a tenore" is one of the most archaic musical forms of expression in the Sardinian tradition. There is proof of the existence of this polyphonic way of singing which dates from the very earliest times. The "Canto a tenore" is an expression of the world of shepherds and farmers which form the very roots of the Sardinian people. For this reason, the "Canto a tenore" was recognized by the UNESCO as being worthy of protection as one of the "Masterpieces of the vocal and immaterial legacies of the human race", thus belonging to the sacrosanct heritage of all mankind.
A typical Sardinian male choir consists of four male voices: "Bassu" (bass), "Contra" (baritone), "Mesu oche" (contralto) and "Oche" (precentor). When singing, the men stand in a closed circle, holding one hand to their ear in order to hear their own voices more easily. The singing follows a precisely defined pattern: The soloist, a tenor, always stands in the foreground. His role is that of the precentor and he determines the melody. The other singers follow with meaningless syllables as accompaniment. "Bassu" and "Contra" form with their guttural sounds the characteristic main voices which always hold the same tone. The sounds which arise when singing imitate the sounds of the Sardinian natural world.
In the last 30 years, the group has worked hard to revive the long forgotten "Canto a tenore". To achieve this, they founded in 1995 – under the patronage of the town of Bitti – a school dedicated to teaching the young people in the village the art of tenor singing and maintaining this native cultural tradition. In 1997 the school joined up with the „Conservatorio di Musica Sassari“. The group „Remunnu’e Locu“ is known nationally and internationally, is highly praised by critics and historical experts on Sardinian tradition and has won numerous prizes.
The group has performed with jazz artists such as Lester Bowie and Ornette Coleman, has sung at a number of jazz festivals (Cagliari Jazz, Umbria Jazz Festival) and produced part of the CD „Voices of the Real World“ from Peter Gabriel in 2000.