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Curtain up for the participating ensembles

Ensembles 2020

The following ensembles from different religions take part in Musica Sacra International 2020.


Rupert Huber and Ensemble Spinario, Austria • Animism

The programme of the “ensemble Spinario” refers to the figure of the thorn-puller (“Lo spinario”) in Kleist’s novel “about the marionette theatre”. The piece is about the loss of grace through self-reflection or more specifically the retrieval of grace on another level of consciousness.

The “ensemble Spinario” was founded by Rupert Huber in Salzburg in 1982. In the beginning it concentrated on radical cross-divisional concepts, which were planned and put into practice by a small group of composers, painters, sculptors, philosophers and writers. Great importance was thereby attributed to the works of John Cage. Furthermore a brass ensemble and choir worked together in theatre and opera productions of the Salzburg Festival for several years.

In the 90s the „ensemble Spinario“ was a set group of five singers, who primarily committed themselves to the comparison of creations of the Dutch period with numerous premieres of living composers. A number of performances took place in Munich, among others at the Gasteig, at the Academy of Fine Arts and at the Bavarian Radio Station.

In its third phase today, the ensemble is practicing the “impact singing” developed by Rupert Huber, with which, in close cooperation with sumnima.arts, the intuition of participants is directed to an authentic Melos through differentiated disposition techniques.

Important Performances took place at the documenta 14 in Athens, at the Radialsystem in Berlin and at the St. Rupert’s Church in Munich.


Ensemble Spinario:
Cornelia Bitzner, Doris Huber, Xenia Preeisenberger - Vocal
Donald Manuel - semantron and percussion
Alexander Hermann – syntheziser and organ
Rupert Huber – conductor

Ars Coralis Coeln, Germany • Christianity

Ars Choralis Coeln is genuinely a local product of Cologne. The debut took place in the „Romanischen Sommer“ 2004 in Cologne. Since then the ensemble perform regularly in Cologne‘s twelve romanesque churches, but also throughout Germany, Europe and Asia.


The research and performance of music manuscripts from women's monasteries and music from women in the Middle Ages is the emphasis of the work. From the very beginning the repertoire has focussed on the music of Hildegard von Bingen. But as a Cologne based ensemble they perform regulary the repertoire of the nearly inexhaustible wealth of manuscripts in the Library of the Cathedral of Cologne.


A great number of CDs, many in co-production with the WDR, testify to the creative work of the ensemble: amongst others two CDs with the music of the Beguines, last year a CD of the Ordo Virtutum (Hildegard von Bingen) and this year a CD with the music from a manuscript of dominican nuns from the monastery Paradiese.


Under the direction of Maria Jonas, the ensemble also regularly develops intercultural and interreligious projects: A new important focus that has been added in recent years.

Pontanima, Bosnia and Herzegovina • Christianity, Judaism, Islam

Conductor: Emir Mejremić 

Emir Mejremić was born in 1987 in Gradacac in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He received his first musical education at his secondary school in Tuzla. From 2006-2011 he studied at the Department for Orchestra and Choral Conducting at the Music Academy in Bania Luka. He completed his Master in Musical Studies at the Music Academy in Sarajevo as top of his class.

He composed music for the film Meeting 2010 which was recorded with the String Orchestra of the Banja Luka Philharmonic. In cooperation with the Music Academy in Sarajevo, he conducted several pieces from famous composers such as Brahms, Puccini, Weber, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Mozart. He currently works as a senior assistant at the Department of Orchestral Conducting at the Music Academy in Sarajevo. For the last year he has also been conducting, composing and arranging music for the Pontanima choir.

Rezonans, Turkey • Islam

Founded in 2010 by Burak Onur Erdem, Rezonans has developed in a short time to become one of the most important choirs in Turkey. In addition to many concerts in their home country, the choir has performed at the festivals Europa Cantat in Pecs and Tallinn and has taken part successfully in international competitions. At the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition in Cork, Rezonans won the second prize in 2016. In 2017, the choir was awarded a third prize at the Guido Polifonico in Arezzo.

The ensemble has worked together with such famous choral conductors as Eric Whitacre, Nigel Short, Volker Hempfling and Georg Grün, as well as with such well known ensembles as the Yale Schola Cantorum, the Salt Lake Choral Artists and the Jungen Vokalensemble Hannover. By the most important music magazine in Turkey, „Andante“, Rezonans was named choir of the year in 2017 and awarded the Donizetti Classical Music Award.

In addition to performing works from the German Romantic era, the choir also concentrates its artistic activities on works from Turkish composers from the 20th and 21st centuries, including premieres of Hasan Uçarsu and Özkan Manav.



Conductor: Burak Onur Erdem

Burak Onur Erdem (*1986) at first studied political science and international relations at the Boğaziçi University. There followed studies in music theory and conducting at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music at the Technical University in Istanbul. He developed his conducting abilities at master classes, among others with Johannes Prinz, Maria Guinand, Volker Hempfling and Michael Gohl. Since 2013 Burak Onur Erdem has worked with the Turkish State Choir, becoming its Artistic Director and Chief Conductor in 2017.

As a platform for developing choral music in Turkey and the international specialist exchange of ideas, Burak Onur Erdem founded the organization Koro Kulturu. He is a member of the board and the music committee of the European Choral Association - Europa Cantat (ECA-EC) and since 2018 a member of the board of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM).



Ensemble Agios, Germany/Russia • Christianity

In June 2018, 16 (male and female) singers gathered to record demo tracks for the choirbook ‘Russia a capella’, commissioned by the renowned publisher Helbling. The outcome was so convincing that the publisher decided to use the recordings to produce a CD. This was when the vocal ensemble ‘Agios’ came into being.

While the ensemble itself may still be quite young, some of the friendships between the ensemble members go back decades, even to their school and university years. All members of the ensemble received an excellent musical training at the best educational institutions of the former Soviet Union and all found their second home here in Germany. By now, they are successfully working in Germany as conductors, vocal soloists and music teachers – from Leipzig to Bonn, Cologne and Stuttgart.

The ensemble understands itself first and foremost as a project ensemble and its initiator Pavel Brochin, choir conductor and publisher of the choirbook ‘Russia a capella’, sees himself less as the ensemble leader, but more as a source of ideas for it. The name ‘Agios’ (Άγιος) derives from Greek and means ‘holy’. It is with this word, that one of the oldest Christian hymns begins, which today still forms an essential part of the orthodox liturgy, the Trisagion.

Hašira, Serbia • Judaism

The Novi Sad Jewish Community Choir “Hašira” (Hebrew word “hašira” means “the song”) was founded in 1993 and since than it has been dedicated to cherish Jewish synagogal and folklore music heritage. However, the choir performs almost every kind of choral music, singing in several languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Serbian, Spanish...).

It has won numerous awards at local and international festivals (Slovakia Cantat 2009; Prague 2010; Bijeljina in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2012; In Canto sul Garda, Italy 2013; 13th International Choir Competition “Antonio Vivaldi”, Greece 2015; 10th International Johannes Brahms Choir Festival and Competition, Germany 2017).

The main quality of this ensemble is variety of its members with different national and religious backgrounds. In 2016 Choir of the Jewish Community of Novi Sad, in competition with 22 individuals and institutions received the Medal for Cultural Preservation of the Cultural Institute of Vojvodina.


Conductor: Vesna Kesic Krsmanovic

Vesna Kesic Krsmanovic studied composition with Enriko Josif and conducting with Stanko Sepic at the Music Academy in Belgrade, and attended the conducting master classes in Siena (Italy) and Hungary (Bartok Seminary). For more than 20 years she has been conducting The Opera Choir of Serbian National Theatre (Novi Sad) and since 2003. – “Hašira”.


Renkei Hashimoto, Germany/Japan • Buddhism

Renkei Hasimoto plays traditional religious music from the Komuso, which has been passed on since the 14th century. Komuso were Japanese zen monks who devoted themselves completely to playing the Shakuhachi, a bamboo-flute which is played for meditation and supposed to help with breathing practice.

Renkei Hashimoto Sensei started her music career with vocal studies in Japan and as a scholar at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. At the Richard-Strauss-Conservatory and with the guidance of Michael Schopper she specialised in early music and gave concerts until 1993. In 1995 Renkei Hashimoto discovered her passion for the sound of the Japanese bamboo-flute and practiced Fuke-Zen-Shakuhachi according to the teaching of the Itchoken monastery and Master ikkei Hanada and Grandmaster Iso Genjo Osho. In 2008 she received the Master title (Kaiden) and has been using her Komuso-Shakuhachi practicing community since then, to follow the tradition of her teachers.

She is currently giving concerts and offering shakuhachi-lessons in Munich, Augsburg, Nürnberg and Beuerberg. The name of her practicing community “Daijifu” (wind of the great compassion) is also the programme of her concerts. Every piece, whether it is “Eko” (requiem), “Shinseki” (trail of truth), Oborozuki (veiled moon) or “Reibo”(longing for the sound of the small bell of Zen-Master Fuke) is concerned with expressing the Zen-spirit of showing great compassion and love towards all beings through the sound of the bamboo-flute.

Raaga Ghungru, India • Hinduism

In December 2016, three artists from different branches of music decided to join together. In spite of the diversity of their performing skills they united for the noble cause of presenting Hindu mythology through the pure forms of Indian music and dance.

According to Indian mythology, music is the highest form of all the fine arts combining Geetam (vocal), Vadyam (instrumental music) and Nrityam (dance). With this background the three artists joined together and founded the ensemble “Raaga Ghungru”. “Raaga Ghungru” offers a unique performance, portraying the Hindu mythology through traditional Indian classical dance and music.

The members of “Raaga Ghungru” are Angira Bhattacharya (Kathak dance), Diptesh Bhattacharya (Sarod) and Sanjib Kumar Pal (Tabla). There is always a fourth member, joining the group as a guest artist. This time, it is vocalist Kaberi Ott.

The performance is divided into three parts. The first part portrays the god Shiva, the second part tells the story of Radha and Krishna and in the third part they will try to capture the theme of “Earth” in their performance.

“Raaga Ghungru” is a very optimistic group and always looks forward to serving their distinguished audiences with their versatile performance.

Nairobi Chamber Chorus, Kenya • Christianity

Nairobi Chamber Chorus
Founded in October 2005 by Ken Wakia, the mission of Nairobi Chamber Chorus (NCC) is to enable young Kenyans to participate in a high quality musical forum from which they can build their careers or expand their realm of knowledge and interest in the arts. Since its inception, over 70 young people have participated and many are now leading musicians in Kenya, performing and teaching music across the country and beyond.
The chorus also offers a cultural exchange platform on which visiting musicians can interact with upcoming Kenyan musicians. Their vision is a strong, well-trained musical community which can use its music to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding through quality performance of choral music. Members are drawn from the various universities and institutions around Nairobi. It is a purely voluntary group and members volunteer their time and resources to meet and make music.

Conductor Ken Wakia
Ken Wakia studied Choral Directing with Dr. JoMichael Scheibe at the University of Miami in Florida, USA as a Fulbright scholar. He is a familiar figure on the Nairobi and international classical music scene as an educator, singer and conductor. In Kenya, he has sung with and conducted both the Nairobi Music Society and Nairobi Orchestra. He mentor’s several up and coming classical musicians and is regularly consulted by choral conductors around Kenya for repertoire and technical skills.

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