As rehearsals begin today in Riga for Eurovision Choir of the Year, Eurovoix caught up with the Belgian participants, Les Pastoureaux.
With a history going back over 40 years and performances across the world Les Pastoureaux are one of the most well-known choirs taking part in this years contest. Made up of school boys aged between 7 and 14 years old, Les Pastoureaux will be representing Belgium at the first edition of Eurovision Choir of the Year. Find out more about the choir, their sound and their hopes for the contest.
Les Pastoureaux was founded in 1974, what is about the choir that has brought about its long history of performing?
Music practice and group solidarity are at the very heart of the
Pastoureaux project. This combination and the renewed involvement and commitment of each generation of singers in the continuation of the project are key elements for the vitality of the choir.
What does being part of a choir mean to your singers?
Our singers are mainly young boys aged 7 to 14 years. They really love singing. Not only because they like music, but being together to make something great for the public and taking at the same time a lot of fun in singing is a fantastic adventure for the boys. The group solidarity is very strong and many young singers, after their voice is breaking, continue their commitment in the group and join the group of tenor and bass voices.
When you were told you would be representing Belgium at the competition what did it mean to the choir?
This was a very exciting and challenging news. We had to change our plans for our traditional summer tour, bringing all our energy to be ready for this 6 minutes performance. But we feel it as an opportunity to open new doors for the choir and make us more visible in Belgium and abroad, to have future opportunities for concerts and tours.
As a choir you perform a wide array of works from works by the masters to lesser known medieval pieces, what can we expect from your performance in Riga?
We don’t limit our repertoire to classical works or ancient music but also like to sing popular and traditional songs. This will be the choice for Riga.
As part of the rules of the competition, as a choir your performance must include national or regional characteristics how will you incorporate this in your performance?
We intend to sing a very new piece in our repertoire, a song from Pierre Rapsat, a great Belgian artist who is greatly missed after his premature death in 2002. The lyrics of this song, Ensemble, also come in resonance with the spirit and project of the Pastoureaux choir.
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?
Don’t hesitate! Search for a choir and join to sing together!
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).