Chairperson Kari Turunen (FI)
Members: Saara Aittakumpu (FI), Volker Hempfling (DE), Carsten Seyer-Hansen (DK), Jennifer Tham (SG)
Kari Turunen was educated at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy, where he studied choral conducting. He holds a doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki. Turunen is the artistic director of five choirs and ensembles: the male chorus Akademiska Sångföreningen, Kampin Laulu chamber choir, the choir of the cantors of the Finnish Lutheran Church, the all-male Ensemble Petraloysio and Spira Ensemble. He is also a member of Lumen Valo, a vocal ensemble that is one of the driving forces on the Finnish early music scene. Dr. Turunen taught choral conducting at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences between 2001 and 2011 before concentrating on the roles of conductor and artist-scholar. He appears regularly as a teacher of choral courses, adjudicator and clinician. Dr. Turunen acted as chair of the Finnish Choral Directors’ Association (FCDA) 1997–2018. He was the Choral Conductor of the Year 2008 in Finland.
Saara Aittakumpu is the conductor of the Polytech Choir (Polyteknikkojen Kuoro; PK), female choir Kaari-ensemble, Male Choir Valkia and Children’s choir Galante at the Helsinki Conservatory of Music. She has also acted as choirmaster in major orchestral productions both in Finland and abroad, e.g. the BBC Proms. Aittakumpu likes to commission new music for her choirs, and has conducted dozens of premieres. She has also taught choral conducting at several music schools and courses. Aittakumpu holds a Master’s degree in music with a major in Choral Conducting, awarded by the Sibelius Academy (now part of the University of the Arts, Helsinki). The Finnish Choral Conductors’ Association awarded Saara Aittakumpu the Choral Conductor of the Year in 2018.
Volker Hempfling is a professor emeritus of choral conducting in the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. He studied church music, organ, orchestral conducting and singing in Herford and Cologne. In 1968 he founded the world famous Kölner Kantorei – specialising in a cappella music of the Romantic and Modern periods – and directed it until 2015. From 1972 to 1997 he also acted as organist, church music director (KMD) and conductor of the Domkantorei Altenberg. With both choirs he has given numerous performances both in Germany and abroad. Hempfling is a much sought-after guest conductor, and in addition he acts as a jury member at national and international competitions and as a lecturer at conducting and vocal training courses throughout the world. In the season 2017–2018 he was the artistic director and organist of Kantorei Barmen-Gemarke in Wuppertal.
Carsten Seyer-Hansen is since 2003 cantor at Aarhus Cathedral responsible for the church’s rich choral life. He also holds a lectorate in classical choral conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. Carsten is a frequent concert conductor, partly with own ensembles: Vocal Group Concert Clemens, Aarhus Cathedral’s Choir, St. Clemens Boys Choir and the Youth Choir “Aarhus U”, partly as a guest for a wide variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles. Besides this, he gives master classes in choir conducting at home and abroad. In 2012 he premiered Jakob Buchanan’s Requiem with the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, Marilyn Mazur, Indra, Jakob Bro and Aarhus Cathedral’s Choir. The recording of this Requiemwas awarded the Best Danish Jazz Release of the year at Danish Music Awards 2016.
Jennifer Tham has directed the Singapore Youth Choir (now the SYC Ensemble Singers) since 1986, winning accolades and re-defining the choral idiom together. She brings music of the SYC and Singapore on her stints as guest conductor to choirs and audiences around the world. She has taught choral pedagogy and conducting at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and has given lectures, workshops and short courses to conductors both at home and abroad. Tham has chaired and spoken on panels at conferences and symposia on three continents, and was the principal lecturer at the 2008 Lithuanian Conductors Summer Academy. For the International Federation for Choral Music, she co-coordinates the Asia Pacific Working Committee She has also served on the World Choir Council since 2004, representing Singapore. In 2012, Tham was conferred the nation’s highest artistic accolade, the Cultural Medallion, by the Republic of Singapore.