Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Voci Nuove: Cork Choral Group Raising the Bar

My preview piece on a coral concerts taking place this weekend, featuring the combined efforts of two excellent choirs is in today's Irish Examiner. You can read it here

MY e interview with MD Lynsey Callaghan and member Brendan Long is here.  Voci Nuove can be heard at the Unitarian Church in Dublin and at the Cork Vision Centre on Saturday this week.
  Can you expand  a little on  the process in finalising  the programme? 

Given the historical significance of this year, I was eager to reflect on this through music. The programme includes a mixture of contemporary works and older pieces, but, for me, all are in some way connected to war and adversity that has occurred throughout history. As well as this, there is great hope in many of the pieces so that while they comment on suffering, they also express the belief in eventual peace.

Among the predominantly 20th century/ contemporary,  Schutz represents the historic period . What is special about this  piece that earned it a slot?

This biblical text (Revelation 14:13) has been used in funeral music of many German-speaking composers. Heinrich Schütz’s six-part motet comes from Geistliche Chormusik (1648), an important collection of 29 of the composer’s motets using German-texts. The collection represents a transition in his writing and while its stylistic roots are in the Renaissance, the expressive contrasts within the piece clearly represent the Baroque era to which it belongs. The year of publication of Geistliche Chormusik is significant because during this year a series of peace treaties were signed which ended the Thirty Years’ War in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Dutch Republic. Although the treaties did not entirely restore peace throughout Europe, they created a base for national self-determination and their principals became central to international law and the prevailing world order. The Thirty Years’ War was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history and it was against this backdrop that Schütz composed his tribute to the dead. Presumably Schütz was not untouched by these horrors that were Raging through Europe and his words and yet in this piece we see faith prevailing, claiming 'blessed are the dead, that die in the Lord'.

only 3 years old and already much lauded. Can you fill us in on the accolades the choir have garnered to date;

Voci Nuove was formed in October 2011. It was originally comprised of  9 voices from Cork School of Music, with the goal of performing alongside Cois Cladaigh in the Galway Jazz Festival. The choir quickly rose to the heights of  receiving a choral  workshop with The King's Singers in Dublin. Voci Nuove has grown from strength to strength and in September 2012 they held auditions to expand the choir. They began performing at concerts, and in Spring 2013 they completed their first series of concerts in Cork, Ennis and Galway entitled Pitches be Crazy, hosted by and collaborating with Cantare Chamber Choir (Ennis) and Cois Cladaigh (Galway). As a part of this tour, Voci Nuove performed Spectrum by Sam Perkin, Cork, an exciting choral work which was composed for the choir. 

They began competing, winning several categories at Cork's Feis Maitiú, 2012. In 2013, the group were awarded 2nd place in the Sacred and Chamber choir categories at the Cork International Choral Festival, and were awarded the John Mannion Perpetual Trophy for their performance of Ave Regina by György Orbán. They opened this Cork Choral Festival by singing for the Shandon Sunrise, and following this they performed a challenging programme in the beautiful surrounds of Triskel Christchurch.

In October 2013, they competed at the inaugural City of Derry's International Choral Festival. Here, they were awarded first prize in the International category, and placed first in the National Sacred Music category. In November 2013, they travelled to Vienna for their first choral exchange, hosted by Amerlingchor.  This was a valuable experience for Voci Nuove, to broaden their musical artistry, by working with a new conductor, collaborating with another choir, performing instrumental music, and exploring genres not in their typical repertoire.

Voci Nuove's 2014 is already proving to be a busy and exciting year. In February we had the chance to perform Spectrum again at a Cork School of Music concert which celebrated the new music of composer Sam Perkin. The following week, Voci Nuove participated in a workshop with Grammy-award winning ensemble Chanticleer in the Cork Opera House. On 11th February, Voci Nuove supported Chanticleer in concert also at the Cork Opera House. This same week, Voci Nuove appeared on RTÉ's The Today Show to promote their concert with Chanticleer.

In April 2014, Voci Nuove launched their Spring-Summer 2014 tour, Cardboard Pocket Rag, in the Dublin Unitarian Church. On this day they were grateful to receive a pre-recital choral workshop with Michael McGlynn. Other stops on this concert tour included the Mitchelstown School of Music & Arts and the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork City. For this Triskel concert, Spizzrag, Voci hosted The Yale Spizzwinks(?), a dynamic young male a cappella ensemble from the US.

Following Voci Nuove's weekend at the City of Derry International Choral Festival 2013, Voci Nuove were invited by Cork International Choral Festival's artistic director, John Fitzpatrick, to compete in the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition 2014. Here, Voci Nuove's performance of Come Sleep by Daniel Brinsmead won the Lady Dorothy Mayer Memorial Trophy award in the Fleischmann International competition. They also received the Trofaí Cuimhneacháin Philib Uí Laoghaire award for their performance of Molaimís go léir an tAon-Mhac Chríost by Ben Hanlon. They were awarded second prize in the Ireland's Choir of the Year competition.

What have been the highlights / most proud moments 

Winning the International competition at the inaugural Derry International Choral Festival, performing in Vienna, and opening for Chanticleer in Cork Opera House all stand out.

 What direction does VN hope to go in with new MD at the helm? 

Onwards and upwards, continuing to tackle exciting new projects and music, and raising our profile in Ireland and beyond. 

Is new music a particular priority for VN ?  

I am constantly impressed by the standard of music that is being written in Ireland at the moment and the great work that organisations like the Contemporary Music Centre and the Irish Composers Collective are doing to champion the products of our composers. I think it's important for composers to have an instrument to write for and if we want more music to be written we really have to encourage this through performance. We are very lucky to have composers writing pieces with our choir specifically in mind. This is very exciting and mutually beneficial.

The venue  Cork Vision Centre  is not one I have been in before. What is the acoustic like for vocal groups/  Any particular reason for choosing this venue?

We've always striven to do things a little differently from the typical classical ensemble. Not that there's anything wrong with performing in big established venues, we just like to bring an audience to lesser explored places, both in music and location. The acoustic is perfect. The Vision Centre is a re-purposed church with high ceilings and flat walls that lend themselves nicely to acapella choral music. 

How did the collaboration with new Dublin choir come about?

It is a very exciting time for both choirs as Laetare Vocal Ensemble has just begun its journey and Voci Nuove has taken on a new musical director. It made sense for both groups with so many similarities to join up and share an exciting concert of so many 'firsts'. The choirs already have many connections: a number of past Voci members who moved to Dublin are singing with Laetare, the conductor of Voci is also a member and there are many friendships between members of the two choirs through participation in other musical activities (Irish Youth Choir, Irish Youth Chamber Choir). The collaboration works on so many levels: it means each choir gets to perform both at home and in a different city and so early on in the year; the members of each choir get to bond both within their choir and with another group; the themes can be explored more thoroughly with potentially two different perspectives or interpretations; there will be a connection between the two choirs so, should members relocate, there will hopefully be a place for them to continue their singing. There is so much musical talent in Ireland and these concerts hope to celebrate young chamber choirs and their musical achievements. It makes perfect sense for two exciting choirs to work together to create something special for all involved.

Are any of the composers involved in the rehearsal process?  

The Irish composers have been so generous with their time and talents. We have remained in touch throughout the process of learning their music and if I have any questions i know that i can drop them an email or call them and they will be willing to help.

What is your rehearsal schedule over the next few weeks leading up to the concert 

With really only one week to go, we will have our final rehearsal the night before the Dublin concert. We will rehearse in the Vision Centre and can get a feel for the acoustic and the layout. I am really looking forward to this rehearsal because, with the concert so close, I am expecting that there will be great focus and energy.

Are all your members Cork based.

We recently acquired a bass 2 who travels from Limerick and for this we are very grateful. 

How does a choir of young musicians who have not been exposed to  war approach preparing to perform works on a war theme. 

The programme is a challenging one with very sombre themes but there is also hope. Many of our pieces look to an end to war and suffering. Luckily, I don't think that any of us have had first-hand experience of war. Each piece, however, tells a story and we will try to create a scene, bringing our own experiences and emotions to the music. i think empathy is crucial for performing, so while we might not have experienced war, everyone has experienced suffering in their lives. It is our challenge to take our experiences and use them to make us better, more genuine performers. 
New MD Lynsey Callaghan

No comments:

Post a Comment