European choirs, local talents team up for concerts

The 900- year-old Nidaros Cathedral Men and Boys' Choir from Norway performs at the Esplanade in October with Singapore's re:Sound Chamber Orchestra.
The 900- year-old Nidaros Cathedral Men and Boys' Choir from Norway performs at the Esplanade in October with Singapore's re:Sound Chamber Orchestra.PHOTO: NIDAROSDOMENS GUTTEKOR

European choral groups and musicians to put on a show with local talents here in the next two months

'Tis the season to sing in Singapore, with three noted European choral ensembles performing here next month and in October.

Also, tomorrow and on Thursday, the 53-year-old Singaporean vocal group, the SYC Ensemble Singers, performs two concerts with acclaimed Swedish-American jazz pianist Steve Dobrogosz.

Dobrogosz, 61, has two Swedish Grammy nominations and has written more than 1,000 pieces in multiple genres. He performed with the SYC Ensemble Singers in 2011, and this week's If You Were A Song is taken from 40 years of his original songs for choir and piano.

He says via e-mail that each concert this week will differ, depending on the mood as he improvises at the keys. "I felt an immediate musical connection last time and I'm sure we'll build on that now. Perhaps they will let me join the tenor section," he says jokingly.

The concert is conducted by the SYC Ensemble Singers' artistic director Jennifer Tham. She notes that "choristers are definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to which and how many concerts to attend" here.

Many schools have choirs that give annual concerts. Lovers of vocal ensembles can also look forward to two Austrian choirs and one from Norway performing in Singapore.

  • BOOK IT / IF YOU WERE A SONG

  • WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Tomorrow and Thursday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $38 from www.goo.gl/Dg23oV

    LANDSCAPES OF HEAVEN AND EARTH WITH A-CAPPELLA-CHOR VILLACH

    Where: Concert Hall, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, 3 Conservatory Drive

    WHEN: Sept 2, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free, register at bit.ly/2v5YSiT

    BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: A MUSICAL AFFAIR

    WHERE: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Sept 3, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $18 to $60 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to sistic.com.sg)

    GIACOMO PUCCINI MESSA DI GLORIA

    WHERE: Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Oct 20 and 21, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $70 to $150 from Sistic

The Austrian choirs are being brought in by Global Cultural Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes exchanges between Singapore and other countries.

Austrian choir A-cappella-Chor Villach is giving two free concerts here, on Sept 1 at the Enabling Village and on Sept 2 at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. Its repertoire includes classics from Brahms and Schubert as well as folk songs from its region.

On Sept 3, award-winning contemporary Viennese choir Chorus Sine Nomine has 60 singers performing with Singaporean pianist Churen Li and local ensemble the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

The programme includes Parry's anthem Blest Pair Of Sirens, sung at the wedding of British royals Prince William and Kate Middleton, and Schubert's Mass No. 6 In E Flat. It is conducted by the choir's founder and artistic director Johannes Hiemetsberger, a much-decorated conductor and music festival director from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.

Hiemetsberger, 46, calls the evening "kind of a 'uniting European programme', which joins French, English, German and very, very Austrian music".

The last major choir arriving in the next two months is the Nidaros Cathedral Men and Boys' Choir (Nidarosdomens Guttekor), brought in by Licha Stelaus Productions, a new entity dedicated to promoting young artists.

The Nidaros Cathedral Men and Boys' Choir from Norway dates from 900 years ago, when the Nidaros Cathedral was being built in Trondheim. The sons of the stonemasons working on the structure were taught in the cathedral, served as altar boys and formed its choir.

The conductor and artistic director of the choir, Bjorn Moe, followed his father into the choir. At age eight, he started out as a boy soprano and later sang tenor and bass. Now 72 years old, he will lead 46 choristers in a performance of Puccini's Messa Di Gloria at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Oct 20 and 21.

The choir will be accompanied by the re:Sound Chamber Orchestra from Singapore and the organist of Nidaros Cathedral, Magne Draagen.

Performers from Norway include teenagers on holiday from school and professionals who grew up in the choir like Moe and never left.

Seventeen-year-old Karl Steinlein sings soprano in the ensemble - his twin Filip sings bass - and is concerned he may have to leave the choir to attend university elsewhere.

He enjoys rehearsing four times a week and the holiday tours when the choir performs in countries around Europe. This is its first time in Asia.

"It sounds like it's work, but the choir is a hobby. We make our friends here," the singer says. "If I stay in Trondheim to study, I will continue singing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Choir lovers spoilt for choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe