Fri, Jul 23, 2004 - Page 17 News List

Taipei looks forward to a choral treat

Six prestigious international choirs will be attending the biennial Taipei International Choral Festival this year

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Indonesian singers will combine traditional dance and choral art.


The biennial Taipei International Choral Festival (台北國際合唱音樂節) starts tomorrow. It's an eight-day festival held at the National Concert Hall in Taipei as well as seven other counties and cites in Taiwan simultaneously. There will be 20 concerts in total.

Six prestigious international choirs will be attending and these include: Nordic Voices from Norway, Australian Voices from Australia, Incheon City Chorale from South Korea, the Batavia Madrigal Singers from Indonesia, Iuventus Cantans from Czech Republic, and Aequalis Aurea from Venezuela. Also performing are 20 local choirs.

"This year we have a strong line-up of choirs that will have been rarely seen in similar choral events in Taiwan," said Dirk Du Hei (杜黑), executive director of the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation for Culture and Education (台北愛樂文教基金會), which organizes the festival.

"We promise to offer an exhilarating celebration of choral art," Du said.

The Final Gala Concert will feature Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and will be performed by the six international groups as well as the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus (台北愛樂合唱團) and the New Philharmonic Orchestra (新愛樂交響樂團). Jonathan Velasco from the Philippines will conduct.

Prior to the concerts, there is a special film screening of the French movie Les Choristes to mark the opening of the festival. The screening will take place next Friday at Spring Cinema. The film can be seen as a French version of Dead Poets Society but the teacher influences the students with choral skills instead of reading old poems.

Apart from the concerts, there are also choral music camp and conducting workshop. Alberto Grau, Denes Szabo and Serene Liang (梁秀玲) will be the principal lecturers. Alberto Grau from Caracas, Venezuela, is a leading figure in choral music in South America. Hungarian choral conductor and professor Denes Szabo is the conductor of the famous children's choir Cantemus.

There are also free "Afternoon Concerts," to be held at Songjiang Garden, National Taiwan University Hospital and Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Xinyi district, where you can have a cup of tea and chat a little while enjoying the singing.

The Batavia Madrigal Singers from Indonesia won three awards in the international choir competition Florilege Vocal de Tours, France. It was the champion in the "Free Program" category, won third prize in "Vocal Ensemble" and received a special award from the French minister of culture for the "Best Interpretation of a French Composition."

Australian Voices is led by leading composer and conductor Stephen Leek. In 1996, the group was selected to represent Australia in the "Concert For Peace" in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina, sharing the stage with Jose Carreras before an audience of the world's royalty. The troupe's major accolades include the 1998 Bela Bartok International Choral Competition in Hungary. It was also a multiple major prize-winner at the 2001 International Choral Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales.

The Pardubice Children Choir Iuventus Cantans from the Czech Republic was founded in 1960 by Vlastislav Novak who has been conductor and artistic director since its foundation. In 2000, the group won two silver medals at the first World Choir Olympic organized in Linz, Austria, with the participation of 360 choirs from all over the world. Although it's a choir with classic training and a long history, its repertoire ranges from Czech folk songs, to the Beatles and Michael Jackson.

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