With less than three days to go until Eurovision Choir of the Year we spoke to the President of this years Slovenian entrants, Carmen manet.
For the first time on July 22 in the Latvian Capital, Riga, Eurovision Choir of the Year will be held. Choirs from nine countries across Europe will be taking to the stage, showcasing themselves to an audience of millions. Among this years participants are Carmen manet. Having been formed just six years ago, the choir made up of former pupils and teachers of the same school has performed across the world.
Thanks so much for talking to us, can you tell us more about how Carmen manet was formed and the meaning behind your name?
Gimnazija Kranj, one of Slovenia’s oldest and most successful high schools, hosts also a very good Girls’ Choir. Former members of this choir experienced a lot while singing in the girls’ choir (numerous theme concerts and national and international competitions) and wanted to sing together also after they left Gimnazija Kranj and went to study at Ljubljana University. Hence the Female choir Carmen manet was born in 2011, the name in Latin meaning: the song remains.
All of the singers in Carmen manet have a shared background, does this help bring the choir together and influence the way you perform?
Yes, it does, since we know each other very well. Although we are joining different generations of singers (you can find siblings and other relatives in our choir, teacher and student,…) we know how to join our forces to achieve our best, we all love choral music and our another feature is to be flexible and never hesitant to try something new. We encourage our singers to express their ideas and get involved in every possible way (organization of events, the look of a choir, stage position and movements,..). So it really is a team work.
Despite only being formed in 2011 you have already performed in contests and events across Europe, what does it mean to be able to share your work internationally?
In these quickly passing 6 years of our existence, we regularly attended international competitions, being also category winners at several (Riva del Garda, Italy, Guangzhou, China, Montreux, Switzerland, Tuhelj, Croatia). Participation at this events helps the choir to grow in musical sense during the preparation and to widen the horizons encountering other high quality choirs from abroad, learning from the best while attending workshops (Stephen Connely, Fred Sjoberg..) We are proud to be able to present very rich Slovenian choral music to the world. Slovenia could be regarded as a phenomenon in choral singing, we have population of 2 000 000, and more than 3000 choirs. Many are very successful and also internationally acknowledged. Slovenian composers’ works are always a part of our programme (Gallus, Lebič, Čopi – to name but a few).
When you were told you would be representing Slovenia at the competition what did it mean to the choir?
Slovenian national television RTV informed us we were their selection in December 2016 and we were thrilled, since this is something completely new and challenging. First singing in the large hall in front of the large crowd with TV spectators watching the broadcasting as well. A great opportunity to present our choir and to contribute to the popularization of choral music Europe-wide.
You will be performing two pieces in your six minutes, we’ve already heard a snippet of one of those songs, can you tell us more about them and the meaning behind them?
It was a difficult task to select two contrasting pieces fort he occasion. We asked two young Slovenian composers to write a song each with the wish to incorporate traditional Slovenian music. The first piece Adrca (meaning Scarf) by Katarina Pustinek Rakar is an arrangement of several traditional songs accompanying a life of a woman in the past, like the scarf that was the part of traditional costume would also represent her constant companion. We meet the girl from the child’s play, first love, wedding, having a child, taking leave of her husband – the soldier, mourning his lost to be concluded in the song, traditional danced on on Easter Monday, representing the resurrection, new beginning and the new hope.
The second one is Ta na Solbici (meaning Up there in Solbica – the name of the village) with the subtitle: And so we dance in Resia, it is based on the traditional folk melos of Slovenian minority living in a secluded valley of Resia in Italy. It depicts the festive dancing at the wedding, where dancers feet drowned out the river Bila and the sound of their steps echoed from the nearby mountains. The melody of the song is newly composed, but it follows the traditional ways of singing and dancing in Resia and recreates an authentic spirit. It was written by Samo Vovk.
Finally, if there was a person watching you perform at Eurovision Choir of the Year in Riga who was thinking of joining a choir, what would your advice be to them?
Contact us by all means. We seek commitment, love for creating a rich choral sound. We recruit mostly from a-fore mentioned Gimnazija Kranj Gilrs’ Choir, but are also open for other musical enthusiasts. Taking part in a choir like this is a most interesting and enriching experience.
Eurovision Choir of the Year will be held for the first time on July 22 in Riga, Latvia as part of the European Choir Games. The European Broadcasting Union has partnered with Interkultur to create this latest Eurovision family event, and both hope to see the format develop into a yearly event.
Competing in the contest are:
- Austria (ORF) – Hard-Chor Linz
- Belgium (RTBF) – Les Pastoureaux
- Denmark (DR) – Academic Choir of Aarhus
- Estonia (ERR) – Estonian TV Girls’ Choir
- Germany (WDR) – Jazzchor Freiburg
- Latvia (LTV) – Spīgo
- Slovenia (RTVSLO) – Carmen Manet
- Hungary (MTVA) – Bela Bartok Male Choir
- Wales (S4C) – Côr Merched Sir Gâr
The Choirs competing in the contest will perform once for up to 6 minutes. The performance can include one or several works, of any genre, and “should in part reflect national or regional character in some way”. The winner will be decided by a three member jury, on the jury are; Elīna Garanča (Latvia – Mezzo-Soprano), John Rutter (United Kingdom – Composer) and Nicolas Fink (Switzerland – Conductor).