Junges Consortium Berlin @ Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2017 © Maarit Kytöharju
Junges Consortium Berlin @ Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2017 © Maarit Kytöharju

Sun 11 Jun 2017

High overall standard of performance in the Chorus Review - no choir was awarded three gold stamps

At the Chorus Review Gala of the Tampere Vocal Music Festival, five choirs were awarded diplomas with two gold stamps: Christophorus-Kantorei (Altensteig, Germany) conducted by Michael Nonnenman; Junges Consortium Berlin (Berlin, Germany) conducted by Vinzenz Weissenburger; Chamber Choir Värinä (Helsinki) conducted by Noora Hirn; Oriana (Odessa, Ukraine) conducted by Galina Shpak; and the Vaskivuori Upper Secondary School Chamber Choir (Vantaa) conducted by Jonna Vehmanen. This year, none of the choirs in the Chorus Review were awarded the highest rank of three gold stamps.
“Generally, the standard of performance in the Chorus Review was quite high, even though the very top of the range was missing. Qualifying for the highest rank of three gold stamps would have required more diversity in repertoire, more strength in performance and a somewhat higher calibre of musical ability,” says Heikki Liimola, chairman of the jury.

The jury felt that there was scope for improvement in repertoire selection for many of the choirs, as a number of the works performed did not bring out and encourage the best abilities of their performers. The jury also noted that voice production and vocal quality is an area where many conductors still have a lot of work to do. The jury would have liked to see more diversity in choral repertoire; for instance, many Finnish choirs sang mostly or exclusively Finnish works. The jury members were Haruko Kuwabara (Japan), Scott Leithead (Canada), Karmina Šilec (Slovenia) and Kari Turunen in addition to chairman Heikki Liimola.

Cash prizes were awarded to the choirs receiving diplomas with two gold stamps, and also to one children’s choir, to one male choir and to one further choir for a particularly striking performance of a specific work. The latter three prizes went to the children’s choir CandoMini (Espoo) conducted by Viena Jurvelin; to Valkia Male Voice Choir (Helsinki) conducted by Saara Aittakumpu; and to Ruamjai (Jyväskylä) conducted by Kirsi Kaunismäki-Suhonen for their performance of Suomalainen [A Finn] by Eero Koivistoinen, the message of which was well understood by the foreign jury members despite being in Finnish. Diplomas with gold stamps were awarded to eight choirs, diplomas with silver stamps to 33 choirs, and diplomas with bronze stamps to eight choirs. All 54 choirs participating in the Chorus Review will also receive written feedback from the jury. Of the participating choirs, eight were from abroad and the rest from Finland. There was an unexpectedly high percentage of women’s choirs, 20 out of 54. Female voices were also in a majority in the participating mixed and children’s choirs. There were only two male choirs, but even so, all choir types were represented in the Chorus Review.

The Tampere Vocal Music Festival concluded with the Chorus Review Gala on Sunday. By preliminary estimate, the festival had an attendance of about 33,000. Precise figures will be released later. This year, the festival programme included Songbridge, an international event that brought top-level children’s and youth choirs from New York, Jakarta and Jyväskylä to Tampere collaborate for a week. The festival further included the international Contest for Vocal Ensembles and a series of concerts and workshops, an exhibition on the choral music of the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928–2016), and a series of free concerts entitled Feel the Festival! The artistic director of this year’s Tampere Vocal Music Festival was choir conductor Sanna Valvanne. The next Tampere Vocal Music Festival will be held two years from now, on 5–9 June 2019.

It was announced at the Gala that on 17–18 March 2018, the Finnish Choir Conductors’ Association and the Tampere Music Academy will be jointly organising a choir conducting competition in Tampere for young conductors born in or after 1985. The prize in this competition is a concert with the professional choir Tampere Cappella at the Tampere Vocal Music Festival in 2019.

Results of the Chorus Review