Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Prague chamber choir: Good sounds and plenty of heart

Posted by Kimberly on October 7, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
October 7, 2007, page 3 (536 words)

The Prague Chamber Choir may be somewhat young in establishment, beginning in 1990 compared to, say, the Rundfunkchor Berlin Choir which was founded in 1925, but what they lack in history they seem to make up for in heart.
Or so Mr Jan Pirner, one of the choir’s members, said, adding that the spirit of the choir can be summed up as “compact sounds, good intonations with heart.
“It’s a little bit like a secret because you can’t know what will be in a concert,” he added.
Asked to describe the difference of performing in a church as opposed to a concert hall, Jan said, “it was quite a big difference. In a concert hall, you have good acoustics and can hear everything quite well.
“In a church you hear some differences in acoustic and a delay, whether you hear the piano a little faster or slower,” he added.
The Choir makes its debut in Macau, performing as part of Opera Australia’s Rigoletto the past two night and concluding tonight.
The opportunity to be a part of the production came about “partly by chance and partly because one of our famous conductors was here who co-operated with the general manager [of the Festival],” said Jan.
The group will also be performing by themselves at Our Lady of Fatima church tomorrow, where 18 members of the Choir will take the audience through a sampling of Czech choral music dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Such famous compositions by Handl and Janacek will be performed, which Jan referred to as “Czech music in a nutshell.”
According to Jan, the choir is made up of both Philharmonic members and regional soloists who perform a variety of festivals around the world, including the Rossini Opera Festival (Italy) and the Prague Spring and Vienna Spring Festivals.
Asked what sort of music the Choir is most noted for, Jan said, “I think it would be opera music and also oratorium. These are two parts I think we are good at,” he said, where an oratorio is defined as being a musical composition for voices and orchestra that tell a sacred story without costumes, scenery, or dramatic action.
Asked whether the Macau audience is something the Choir is expecting, considering its tendency to be somewhat subdued in praise, Jan responded with, “I think it’s a little bit different from the Czech audience, which is a little bit more excited,” said Jan.
“Macau’s audience is a little bit quiet for our Choir but they are very good at the end, for example with Friday’s performance. For us that was a great success,” he added.
The Choir have also been guests at the world exhibition in Seville and at opera houses in Florence, Geneva, Seville and Wexford (Ireland).
Their collaboration with Opera Australia is an indication of their popularity as a choir, who have worked with such worldwide orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.
With broadcasting corporations such as the BBC recording their performances, being young certainly hasn’t been a drawback for the Choir and if the response, admittedly towards the end, from Macau’s audience is any indication, the debut will ensure they get invited for an encore.

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