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Ensembles 2018

Singer Pur • Germany

Beside their artistic virtues it is the continuing enjoyment to be found in experimentation and the resulting unusual programmes which are the particular qualities of this ensemble.
Their repertoire ranges from medieval music to contemporary works, from religious music to folk songs and jazz. Many of the new compositions and arrangements were written especially for the sextet. In addition to their own programme, the ensemble also works together with colleagues: the clarinet player David Orlowsky, the Musik Fabrik Köln, with whom Singer Pur performed the première of ´Vigilia´ by Wolfgang Rihn and with the world-famous Hilliard Ensemble until they disbanded in 2014.

Today, Singer Pur – with five former members of the Regensburger Domspatzen cathedral boy´s choir - is probably one of the most renowned German vocal ensembles. At an early stage, the soprano, the three tenors, the baritone and the bass received prizes and awards which led them to extended concert tours across the world. In 2017, the ensemble celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Apart from giving concerts, the group has devoted itself to recording: so far, Singer Pur has published about 25 prize-winning CDs containing the full repertoire of their work. It covers a diversity of titles such as the complete recording of secular works by Jacobus Gallus, ´Ahi vita´ with compositions by Monteverdi, Phinot and Striggio combined with own compositions and improvisations by Michael Riessler or the CD `SOS – Save our Songs´ with German folk songs newly arranged for Singer Pur. In 2007, this audio recording received the ECHO Klassik award in the category „classical music without borders.“ In the years 2005 and 2007, Singer Pur received even more ECHOs, most recently for a cooperation with the clarinet player David Orlowsky. In 2012, the ensemble published their first pure pop-CD ´Singer Pur sings Sting´. At the beginning of 2013, Singer Pur finalized the large-scale project of a work by Adrian Willaert: a double- and a triple-CD with the first recording of Willaert´s Petraca madrigals and motets from the collection ´Musica Nova´. In 2015, they published their second Advent CD with numerous new arrangements of famous Advent songs.

But Singer Pur has won even more prizes: the cultural award of the city of Regensburg in 2008, they were the first to win the Bavarian State Prize for Music in 2013 and the Friedrich-Baur-Award of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. In 2015 the title “Ambassadors for the Friends of Choral Music in Europe” was bestowed on Singer Pur, awarded by the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat.

Since 2007, Singer Pur has been involved in the youth project Rhapsody in School. Apart from that, the ensemble offers workshops for youth choirs or up-and-coming ensembles.

Since 2006, Singer Pur is now for the second time a guest at Musica Sacra International. Under the title “The spirit blows where it will“, they will be performing spirit-filled vocal music from different cultures and eras.

Suomen Kanttorikuoro • Finland

The roots of the Suomen Kanttorikuoro - Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae go back to the year 1892, when the ”Kanttorikööri” (cantor choir) performed for the first time. In 1910, the association „Finish Cantor-Organist Choir“ was founded. It performed regularly until the war years 1939 - 1945. It was newly founded in 1948 as the Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae. Only after 2007 did the ensemble – which originally consisted only of male singers – sing as a mixed choir made up of church musicians from the Protestant church and students of church music. The artistic direction has been in the hands of Kari Turunen since 2011. Among the previous conductors were. Prof. Timo Nuoranne and Heikki Liimola.

The singers come together three to five times a year to rehearse and give concerts. The repertoire consists of religious songs, classical oratorios and contemporary compositions of church music. In the Reformation year of 2017, the CCF concentrated on ecumenical works, among other things with concerts together with the Cantor Choir of the Orthodox Church.

The Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae can look back on a series of more than 500 concerts at home and abroad. Concert tours have taken them to many Europena countries and the USA.

During Musica Sacra International, in addition to its evening concerts, the choir will be supporting the festival choir led by Singer Pur.


Conductor: Dr. Kari Turunen

Kari Turunen studied choral conducting under Prof. Matti Hyökki at the Sibelius Academy. There followed master classes, among others with Anders Eby and Eric Ericson. As a result of his dissertation, in which he researched the perfomances of works by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina through the centuries, the male ensemble Petraloysio was formed. Today, he is the artistic director of the choir Kampin Laulu, with which he took part in the International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf in 2013.

Kari Turunen regularly gives choral coursesand works internationally as a jury member. He is the chairman of the Association of Finish Choral Conductors (FCDAS). In 2008 he was awarded the title of Conductor of the Year in Finland.

Chœur Africain des Jeunes • different african countries

Created in 2012, the African Youth Choir (AYC) is a project led by the African Confederation of Choral Music. It aims to bring together the youth of an Africa torn by conflicts of all kinds, and to allow these singers from all over the continent to join their voices, to share their cultures, their emotions and to keep their faith for the future by becoming messengers of peace and a model of inter-culturism and fraternity. 

Composed of forty young singers aged 16 to 26, rigorously selected in Africa, the choir is led by a renowned African conductor. 

A two-week summer camp is organized each year in a different host country. Beyond technical perfection, the choir offers a unique experience for young singers. 

On stage, the choir expresses all the enthusiasm and talent of African youth, offering a colourful and rich show, a mixture of the diverse influences and an authentic repertoire of the rhythms, languages and harmonies specific to the African continent. 

After Ambroise Kua Nzambi-Toko from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who led the choir from 2012 to 2014, the AYC is currently led by Sylvain Kwami Gameti from Togo.

Thanks to the symbolism that he embodies, the African Youth Choir was made an ambassador of the International Federation of Choir Music (IFCM) and took part in the category "Guest Choir" at the World Symposium for Choral Music in Seoul in August 2014 as well as at the Festival "Choralies" in Vaison la Romaine, in 2016.

To date, the project involves a dozen African countries with the ambition of extending to the rest of the continent. 


Conductot: Sylvain Kwami Gameti

Former head of the choir of the University of Lomé from 1996 to 2003, Sylvain has been head of the National Choir of Togo since 2009 and current conductor of the African Youth Choir since 2014. He is a member of the African Confederation of Choral Music (CAMC) and of A Coeur Joie International (ACJI). He is the director of the Choral Music Institute of Lomé in Togo where he teaches choir conducting and African music. With his choirs he has toured giving concerts in France and Spain, and participated in choral festivals in several countries. 

He took charge of the African Youth Choir at the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music in Seoul, Korea. Currently, he supervises students on a research project on Togolese music and collects traditional and folk music pieces. 

Sylvain is Professor of Choral Practice at the University of Lome. He works also an author / composer and arranger.


Sretenije • Belarus

The ensemble of the ancient art of Russian singing “Sretenije” was formed in February 2014 with the blessing of the senior priest of the Church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist in Minsk, Archbishop Fedor (Zhelengovskij). 

The aim of the ensemble is the performance of the old art of Russian singing on the concert stage and its introduction into religious services. 

The ensemble revives the church performing traditions of the medieval and baroque periods in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. The repertoire includes the chants of different singing styles of ancient Russia from the unison tradition of the 16-19th centuries and also from the period of early Russian polyphony. There are also some songs from a Belarusian branch of Znamenny chants in the repertoire.  A particular challenge for the creative research of the ensemble is the reliance in performance on the information of neums and the use of the transcripts of singing manuscripts made by musicologists.

Sretenije takes part in religious services based on the singing manuscripts of the 17-19th centuries and Slavic orthodox songs from the work Irmologion Supraski (16th century), gives educational concert lectures on the leading stages of Belarus and abroad and offers several master classes at a national and international level.  The participants of the ensemble are lovers of choral singing aged between 20 and 50 years. The ensemble took part in several international festivals of church music. At the 16th International Festival of Orthodox Chants “Kalozhski Blagavest” (Belarus, Grodno, 8-11 February 2017) their performance was awarded a special prize by the jury of the contest. The ensemble won second prize at the International Festival of Orthodox Church Music “Hajnowka-2017”, in Bialystok, Poland in the category for church choirs.


Conductor: Olga Suarez

 The leader of the ensemble is the church musician of the Church of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, Olga Suares. The artistic direction is in the hands of Olga Bejsher.

Common Ground Voices • Israel, Palestine, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Spain, USA

Common Ground Voices aims to form a circle of understanding in a world of differences between human beings. The common ground of music unites us and acts as a tool for fruitful dialogues based on creativity, compassion and respect.

(Statement formulated by the Common Ground Voices singers, Jerusalem, March 2017) 

Common Ground Voices (CGV) is an international project choir under the artistic direction of Professor Dr André de Quadros of Boston University, and initiated by the Eric Ericson International Choral Centre (EIC). CGV consists of equal groups of Israelis, Palestinians and singers from the rest of the world: Brazil, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the USA. It gathered for the first time in Stockholm, Sweden, in February, 2016 and gave its first acclaimed performance at the Eric Ericson Hall in the presence of the King and Queen of Sweden. Since then, there have been two Jerusalem residencies – in 2017 and 2018. CGV is part of EIC’s Music & Humanity Initiative. CGV aims to generate a meaningful collaboration through music; to explore and create music of shared human values and aspirations; to contribute to community music as an exercise of non-violence and to use music as a springboard for a meaningful discussion about social and political change within the group as well as within society in general. In terms of mission, process, and personnel, CGV is the only such choir in the world.


Conductor: André de Quadros

André de Quadros, conductor, ethnomusicologist, music educator, writer, Professor of Music at Boston University and human rights activist has conducted and undertaken research in over forty countries around the globe.

A sought after conductor and clinician, André de Quadros is Music Director and Conductor of the Manado State University Choir (Indonesia) with which he toured many countries around the world and was awarded several times with prizes. An ardent human rights and social change activist, André de Quadros believes that consensus music-making can bring people and cultures together. To that end, he has been at the forefront of efforts for music and social change. In 2008, he co-created Aswatuna: the Arab Choral Festival in Jordan that brought together choirs from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. The festival was such a success that it was repeated in 2012. In 2010, he co-directed a historic project with Palestinian and Israeli choral musicians in East Jerusalem working to foster understanding between the two communities. This project has continued on a regular basis and is called the Community Heartsong. André de Quadros is at the forefront of conducting teaching and has pioneered a process of music-making that stretches the boundaries of traditional choral music-making by developing a new cross-cultural experimental repertoire with influences from Arabian, Indian, Latin American, and Indonesian music. Since 2016 he has been the artistic director of Common Ground Voices.


Synagogalchor Hannover • Germany

The Synagogue choir Hanover consists of widely experienced singers who perform at an extremely high level the European Jewish liturgical music from the period of its heyday in the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. In this, the ensemble is dedicated to performing works from the Ashkenazi tradition of Central and Eastern Europe. The choir is distinguished by its homogenous and atmospherically concentrated sound which does justice to its sacred foundations and corresponds to the romantic ideals of the compositions for the synagogue.

The ensemble started its work in 2004. A large number of the members formed part of the European Synagogue Choir until 2017, which was led by Prof. Andor Izsák, gave many noteworthy concerts at home and abroad and published several CDs and a double DVD with synagogue music. The organizational coordination through Rafael Harten resulted in a more differentiated and effective way of work which is now led – after years of singing in the choir - by the music educationalist Sören Sönksen.


Conductor: Sören Sönksen

Sören Sönksen studied music and history at the University for Music, Drama and the Media in Hanover as well as piano (Roland Krüger, music theory (Volker Helbing) and musicology (Stefan Weiss) at the Leibniz University in Hanover.

Since 2013 he has taught music theory and acoustic training at the HMTM Hanover, and since 2015 at the HfM in Dresden. In addition to his activities in musical research and teaching, Sören Sönksen works as a church musician and choral conductor.


Houria Aichi • Algeria

In Batna, in the Berber mountains, on the edge of the Sahara, women often meet to sing and Houria, as a child, ran from house to house to join them. And this is how it came that she discovered her passion for music and her vocal talent.

A brilliant student, encouraged by her parents, Houria Aïchi attended secondary school in Constantine, attended university in Algiers and completed her postgraduate training as a sociologist in France. She did not stop singing during all her studies (for her own pleasure and that of her friends. Her voice seduces.)

She also undertook a collection of texts and music from the oral tradition of the Berbers, and helped to make known the real authenticity of the poetry sung in the Aurès. Houria Aïchi has been interpreting for over twenty years these ancient songs of the women of the Aurès, as a tribute to the Algerian woman, as an ode to freedom.

Then, Houria Aïchi‘s career reached an international dimension: she recorded her first album (Chants de l‘Aurès, at Ethnic / Auvidis) in 1990, worked on the soundtrack of “Sky over the desert” from Bertolucci, recorded with Ruychi Sakamoto, and participates in the creation of contemporary music. She also participates in many festivals in England, Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Canada ... Everywhere, she is passionately faithful to her roots, to what she learned as a child. 

Willing to change the traditional forms while remaining faithful to the deep-seated base of her culture, Houria Aïchi created in 2008 the show and the album Cavaliers de l‘Aurès (Charles Cros Prize). Around the acoustic universe created by Grégory Dargent, associating the old and the modern through the processing of sound archives, the dynamics of rock, jazz and Mediterranean music - all styles mastered by the young musicians of Hijâz‘Car - the singer celebrates the universality of the rules of chivalry, bravery, love, preached by these horseman princes, Rayan el khil who marked her childhood.

In 2013, she presented a new show, „Renayate“, a tribute to the Algerian women singers of this and the last century, performing several key songs from several generations, genres and aesthetics of Algerian music.

Today, Houria Aïchi lends her voice to the mystical repertoire of her country, Algeria. She travels the great regions, singing dhikrs and themes of the Sufi brotherhoods, or freely interpreting the Saharan Ahellil. Seeking the lost paradise of her childhood and a tribute to the thousand year old devotion of her people.

In the land of Islam, the muezzin calls to prayer with a highly codified song. He is not alone in singing the glory of God and his Prophet. Reconciling music and religion Sufi brotherhoods have developed a vast repertoire, just like the village populations. (Michel Doussot)

„That‘s what I try to show to the public, through the collection and interpretation of popular spiritual songs and the Sufi brotherhoods of Algeria.“ Houria Aichi

Pandit Ranajit Sengupta & Shirin Sengupta Ensemble • India

Ranajit Sengupta has already twice been a guest in Marktoberdorf. This year, with a new ensemble, he will perform the Hindustani music of North India at Musica Sacra International.

Pandit RANAJIT SENGUPTA is one of the best Sarod players and music composers from India, having performed in more than 40 countries around the world over the last 24 years.He is a student of the late Ustad Dhyanesh Khan and Ustad Aashish Khan of Maihar Senia Gharana and attended several workshops by the Late Dr. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in India and California. He is one of the youngest top grade Sarod players from All India Radio and Television and winner of the "Presidents' award for securing first place in the All India Radio Competition, the Acharya Baba Allauddin Memorial Award, the Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee Memorial Award and the "Best talent of the Year" awarded by HMV, to name just a few. He was top in both the Graduation & Master's Exam from the Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta and is a guest lecturer at universities in the USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, England and India. He has performed in major music festivals and venues around the globe including the USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Greece, England, Scotland, Estonia, Russia, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Syria and the Caribbean Islands to name just a few. He has over 30 CD and DVD releases from around the world. Ranajit has composed music for the Dutch feature film "Dark Amsterdam" and the music for the road movie "Lost & Found Tour" filmed about himself and 3 other Austrian musicians. He has 4 World-Fusion music bands in Europe with musicians from around the globe. Ranajit was the principal composer, guest conductor and Guru for the National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music in England from 2011 to 2015.

Ranajit teaches students from around the world who have received national and international scholarships to learn under Pandit Sengupta.

His wife, SHIRIN SENGUPTA is one of the youngest "A" grade Indian classical vocalists from All India Radio & Television, Calcutta, India having performed in major music festivals and venues in more than 20 countries around the world since the year 2000. She is the winner of the President's award from the Government of India, the Jadu Bhatta Memorial Award, the Ami Khan Memorial Award and a national scholarship from the Ministry of Culture. Shirin has more than 20 CD & DVD releases from around the world and is an artist with the ICCR at the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India

RAJARSHI SENGUPTA,(19 stringed mandolin), the son of Pandit Ranajit Sengupta and Shirin Sengupta is joining the group with his custom made 19 stringed Indian classical mandolin. He was the winner of a CCRT national scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India when he was only 11 years old. He has given solo performances in Germany, Switzerland and at the Orient Festival in Estonia besides performing in several festivals in India as a soloist and accompanying his parents. He is a regular artist on All India Radio & Television.

SANDIP GHOSH, is one of the best Tabla Players from the younger generation He is the winner of a national scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Government. of India and achieved a Master's degree in percussion from the Rabindra Bharati University. He has already given performances with the great masters of classical Indian music

Together with Singer Pur and the festival choir, the ensemble will perform the world première of a composition, written especially for these three ensembles by Hans Schanderl, on Monday May 21 2018 in the Festival Theatre.

Jogye Order's Conservatory of Buddhist Music • South Korea

Jogye Order is the representative order of traditional Korean Buddhism with roots that go all the way back 1,200 years to the National Master of the Unified Silla Empire, Doui, who brought Seon and the practice taught by the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, from China in about 820 C.E. In 826, the "Nine Mountains of Seon" adopted the name "Jogye-jong" and all were instrumental in the development of the nation during the period of the Unified Silla Empire and thereafter.

On April 11, 1962 the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism was officially established with three main goals: training and education; sutra translation into Korean from Chinese characters; and propagation. These goals continue to guide the Jogye Order today as well. It was in 1947-1949 that a group of monks at Bongamsa Temple began a movement advocating "Living According to the Teachings of the Buddha" and this provided the opportunity for the establishment of fundamental principles and traditions as well as the accepted ceremonies of the order. The Jogye Order takes the teachings of the Buddha Sakyamuni as its basis and its principles are the traditions of the Zen line (in Korean: Seon), living in the way of Buddha’s teaching and its propagation. The order relies on the Diamond Sutra as a guiding text and though sutra study, chanting and devotional practices are integrated into the programme, the most important and widely known practice is hwadu meditation.

There are 25 districts nationwide that include more than 3,000 branch temples and Buddhist centres. Of the 870 traditional temples in Korea which are recognized, preserved and supported by the government, more than 90 percent, or 840, belong to the Jogye Order; these temples house more than 65 percent of Korea's designated National Treasures and Local Treasures. In addition, there are 90 Seon meditation monasteries. More than 2,000 of the 12,000 ordained Buddhists participate in the intensive three-month winter and summer meditation retreats at these meditation facilities. There are also some 1,500 monks attending the 17 colleges run by the order nationwide.

The order runs extensive programmes for lay people. Every temple has training and teaching programmes and many lay Buddhists play active daily roles in the temple management, administration and life in general.

The Conservatory of Buddhist Music is an educational institution founded by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in 2015. It aims to promote Buddhist music, produce composers and conductors and propagate Buddhism through sacred music.

In addition to their regular concerts at the Bongeun Temple, the Conservatory ensemble has performed on a variety of occasions and can look back on a series of successful concerts. With this group it is the very first time that a Korean ensemble has been invited to take part in Musica Sacra International.

Singer Pur • Germany
Suomen Kanttorikuoro • Finland
Chœur Africain des Jeunes • different african countries
Sretenije • Belarus
Common Ground Voices • Israel, Palestine, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, Spain, USA
Synagogalchor Hannover • Germany
Houria Aichi • Algeria
Pandit Ranajit Sengupta & Shirin Sengupta Ensemble • India
Jogye Order's Conservatory of Buddhist Music • South Korea
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