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Ensembles 2010

S:T Jacobs Vocal Ensemble • Sweden

The S:t Jacobs Vocal Ensemble from Stockholm will perform Urmas Sisask's unusual work "Gloria patri" under the direction of its choir director Gary Graden, an international choir pedagogue who has won several awards. The 24 hymns by the Estonian composer are arranged in counterpoint. The specially developed scales, based on the harmony of the spheres, have in common a floating, meditative sound with wave-like movements. Sisask, a professing Catholic, is often inspired by astronomy. Picking up on this idea, projections of the universe are shown during the performances.

Gary Graden, born in the USA, studied in his home country at Clark University, at the Hartt School of Music, among others. He completed his training as a choral conductor with Eric Ericson at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. At one of the most important centres for sacred music in Sweden, the S:t Jacobs Church in Stockholm, he acts as choir director. For many years he taught at the Stockholm Music High School, a school with a focus on choral singing.

VocaMe • Germany

The vocalist ensemble VocaMe, founded in Munich, consists of renowned female singers from the early music scene. The ensemble made its debut with a small musical sensation, the first recording and premiere of works by the earliest known female composer of the Occident, Kassia.

VocaMe immerses concertgoers in a dense, almost mystical atmosphere. The music, forgotten but made audible again, becomes a testimony to a past culture. With Byzantine hymns by Kassia, VocaMe transports the audience to a distant time with the haunting, clear voices of the singers and sensitive arrangements.

Kassia lived in the 9th century in Byzantium, today's Istanbul, 250 years before Hildegard von Bingen. She founded a monastery and became an abbess. Her 50 or so composed hymns, some of which are still sung in the Greek Orthodox liturgy, date from this time.

Vokal Ensemble München • Germany

The Vokal Ensemble München consists of about 25 vocally trained singers. The repertoire of the chamber choir, founded in 1992 by Martin Zöbeley, covers all music-historical epochs from the Renaissance to the present. The focus is on rarely performed a cappella music of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The choir also demonstrated sensitivity and stylistic fidelity in the field of contemporary music with Tan Dun's opera "Marco Polo" at the 1996 Munich Biennale and the world premiere of a psalm setting by Graham Lack at the Philharmonie's anniversary celebration.

The Vokal Ensemble has performed successfully at international choir competitions in Gorizia, Arzzo and Tours. In 2001 it won 1st place at the Bavarian Choir Competition in Regensburg.

Its CD recording of the St. John Passion by Heinrich Schütz was awarded the Diapason d'Or.

At Musica Sacra International, the ensemble sings mainly single- and multi-choir music by composers of St. Mark's Cathedral Venice (Gabrieli and others) and German composers influenced by Italy (Lasso, Schütz, Hassler), some of them together with the South Tyrolean Wind Ensemble.


Südtiroler Bläserensemble • Italia

The South Tyrolean Wind Ensemble, founded by its director Valentin Resch, is mainly made up of musicians who can look back on several years of work as solo wind players in renowned European orchestras. In the course of its existence, it has developed into an ensemble that is appreciated by the public as well as by experts.

Performances in Vienna, Brussels, Chicago, at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the musical accompaniment of the Papal Audience in Rome, the celebratory concert for the 70th birthday of the wind legend Philip Jones in Merano are just a few examples of their lively activity.

At Musica Sacra International they will mainly interpret polychoral music from St Mark's Basilica in Venice. Some of this will be performed together with the Vokal Ensemble München.

Numerous composers have dedicated works to the South Tyrolean Wind Ensemble, which have been successfully premiered.

Oreya • Ukraine

Oreya can look back on the proud number of 21 first places in the most prestigious European choral competitions and was appointed cultural ambassador of Ukraine. They have successfully participated in many international competitions, such as the Béla Bartók Chamber Choir Competition in Debrecen/Hungary, the Dimitrov Chamber Choir Competition in Varna/Bulgaria, and in Maribor/Slovenia.

In Varna, Alexander Vatsek, member of the International Federation of Choral Music, who founded the Oreya Municipal Chamber Choir in 1986, received an award as best conductor of the competition. With the women's choir he founded in 1992, they won 1st prize at the 3rd International Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf in 1993.

Aswatuna Global Voices • Jordan

On the occasion of the first Arabic Choral Festival 2008 Aswatuna, the choir Aswatuna Global Voices was formed. The choir is closely linked to the Dozan wa Awtar choir, founded by Shireen Abu Khader, which is dedicated to the yet-to-be-discovered field of Arabic choral music.

Through unique performances, courses, compositions, recordings, publications and theatre productions, in collaboration with professional regional and international artists, they introduce Arabic choral music to a wide audience.

Shireen Abu Khader studied conducting at the Oberlin College Conservatory and specialised in choral music at the University of California. After moving to the West Bank, she teaches music in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

The goal of the artistic director of the Aswatuna Festival, André de Quadros, professor of music education at Boston University, is to "showcase the musical richness of this earth and encourage singing together across borders".

Erguvan Ensemble Istanbul • Turkey

The Erguvan Ensemble Istanbul interprets music of the Sufis and the Ottoman Empire. The members of the ensemble, which has been in existence since 2007, perform together and as soloists both in Turkey and abroad.

The singers of the ensemble are accompanied on traditional Turkish instruments such as the zither qanun, the short-necked lute oud or the reed flute nay. In addition, they interpret Sufi music, which sings of love for God and the Prophet Mohammed.

Two styles are the focus of the ensemble: Sikir and Kasside. Sikir is the constant repetition of words, which, like a mantra in Sufism, is an exercise in religious devotion. Kasside is the name of the classical form of Arabic poetry, which almost always begins with a lament for love and can sometimes be up to 100 verses long. It is dedicated to the praise of Allah.

Jugendchor Cordana • Indonesia

Aida Swenson founded the Indonesian Children's and Youth Choir Cordana in 1992, which has won numerous awards and which she still directs today. The aim of Swenson's work is to introduce Indonesian children and young people to singing and to provide them with a musical education that would normally not be possible for them due to their economic situation.

The choir, consisting of Muslim, Hindu and Christian singers, is a living example of peaceful coexistence between religions. The repertoire is broad and ranges from classical to contemporary music. In addition, they perform traditional Indenese music and combine it with dances from their homeland.

The choir has already toured Germany, Denmark, Poland, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and the USA. Representing Indonesia, they performed at the ASEAN Children's Choir Festival in Manila and at the ACDA National Convention in 2005 and 2007. Most recently, they performed at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Copenhagen in 2008.

Skye Løfvander • Denmark

Singing in several voices alone like the Dane Skye Løfvander, that is the art of OBertone singing. Originating in Mongolia, the technique came to the Western world, which then developed its own language. Skye Løfvander is a teacher, writer and singer at the same time. After studying mathematics, statistics and computer science, he trained as a musician in Copenhagen.

His concerts introduced audiences to deeper listening, often in unusual places, such as an underground water reservoir, greenhouses or botanical gardens, etc. He regularly collaborates with well-known Danish and international artists.

Skye Løfvander is co-founder of Danish and Scandinavian networks developing pedagogical methods for music expression and philosophy. He has published two books on overtone music and two CD recordings. He also offers 'workshops and seminars.

He shone with the exhibition "Spiral Sound Colour". Inspired by Indian dhrupad music, Skye Løfvander improvises to the meditative sounds. Together with Ashish Sankrityayan, he forms the ensemble Subtle Voices.

Ashish Sankrityayan • India

Dhrupad singer Ashish Sankrityayan lives in Delhi and has studied the traditional North Indian court and temple music form of Dhrupad extremely intensively with various singers of the Dagar tradition.

Based on his studies with numerous traditional singers of the Dagar Vani and research on Dhrupad, he developed his own comprehensive and versatile interpretation of the Dagar style, combining the influences of many masters he studied with and heard. As a child he first learned to play the sitar and later singing. While studying mathematics and physics at Bombay University, a recording of the raga Darbari sung by the elder Dagar brothers inspired him to begin studying dhrupad.

Over the next twenty years he learned Dhrupad in the traditional form from numerous teachers while travelling to many places in India and devoting all his attention to searching and studying various sources of this historical art. After a very long period of study, Ashish Sankrityayan began his concert career in 2000. Since then he has given over 300 Dhrupad concerts in India and Europe. Ashish Sankrityayan pursues an intensive teaching career. Together with the Dane Skye Løfvander he forms the ensemble Subtle Voices.

Collegium Singers Tel Aviv • Israel

The chamber choir Collegium Singers Tel Aviv is unique in its kind and quality in the classical field of Israeli ensembles. Each member has many years of professional choral experience. The Collegium Singers Tel Aviv, founded in 1997 by Avner Itai, have performed in the Israel Festival Abu Gosh and the Musica Sacra Festival Nazareth, among others.

In addition to the classical European repertoire, the ensemble devotes itself primarily to contemporary Israeli composers.

The ensemble has participated in the project "Voices for Peace"' for years. Jewish-Arab cooperation is thus practised in Israel and beyond, as they perform Jewish, Christian and Muslim music together.

Avner Itai studied music in Israel, Paris and London. He has been a professor of choral conducting at both the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Academies of Music. He has been the director of the Ihud Choir for over thirty years and is the founder and conductor of the Cameran Singers. He has performed with both choirs with great success in the USA and Europe.

Loten Namling • Tibet/Switzerland

Loten Namling is many things at once, singer, musician, actor, cartoonist - but he is one thing above all: a powerful voice.
Born in 1963 on the run in the Himalayas, Loten Namling grew up in exile in India with ABBA, the Bee Gees and all the songs that went around the world at the time. But what brought him to music was the song "Ama le ho" by the sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706): "White crane, lend me your wings. I don't want to fly far. From Lithang I return again."

Today, Loten Namling lives in Switzerland and deliberately in exile: "I got the best of the East and the West." He specialises in the centuries-old Tibetan singing tradition of the Nangma and Toeshey. When he sings these ancient songs, he feels transported back to the Tibet of yesteryear. Nangma comes from the Urdu word nagma, which means "songs" in that language. Kashmiri immigrants to Lhasa brought them with them 500 years ago. The other interpretation comes from Nang, the courtyard of the rich people in Lhasa, where these songs are said to have been sung.

Optina Pustyn Male Choir • Russia
Grupo de Canto Coral • Argentina
Swedish Chamber Choir • Sweden
Landes-Jugendjazzorchester Bayern • Germany
via-nova-chor • Germany
don camillo chor • Germany
Frauenchor des St. Geghard Klosters • Armenia
Voces8 • Great Britain
Chœur La Grace • Congo
Moran Singers und Yair Dalal • Israel
Fawzy Al-Aiedy Trio • France
Maryam Akhondy und Ensemble Barbad • Iran
Shantala Subramanyam und Dakshin • India
Ensemble Khuree Tsam • Mongolia
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