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New approach to choral events

New approach to choral events
​Gent Lazri, founder of a new International Academy for Choral Arts CHORALSPACE and a project developer of the CHORALSPACE WINTER FESTIVAL is interviewed by Justyna Dziuma from International Choral Portal Chórtownia.

Justyna: Let’s start from the CHORALSPACE WINTER FESTIVAL. It is planned for 9-19 December in real life in Berlin. Aren’t you afraid that your great effort of the organisation would be spoiled by the pandemia?

Gent: It’s surely a very difficult time to start a new choral organization but we think that there is not a bad time for good ideas. The CHORALSPACE Winter Festival is about collaboration between international ensembles. This collaboration will help choirs to create intriguing plans and programs for their way back to stage. The pandemic might delay it but nothing in this process will be lost. 

Justyna: CHORALSPACE WINTER FESTIVAL is something fresh and innovating, using new technologies and involving its participants for cooperation before and after festival. Can you tell something more about it?

Gent: We all have learned a lot during these difficult times. It fascinates me to be able to watch choirs joining virtual projects together ignoring the geographical borders and time zones. We have learned to make use of these new opportunities and will keep using them in some part of our work in the future. Online learning and meetings are two factors we have included in the festival structure. We will create collaborative groups of three choirs - we call these CHORAL CLUSTERS - that will meet online and prepare the program for their festival participation. It will be a completely new feeling as they will meet together in Berlin for the first time in person. We believe this will permanently change the expectations toward international events. 

Justyna: I am delighted with your idea of Choral Clusters during the festival, as I am also crazy about international cooperation, openness and understanding. Do you know that the name of my choir is Klaster (laugh)? 

Gent: This is a fantastic coincidence. Can we please talk about choir Klaser as ambassador of this innovative idea. :-) Why not consider Klaster for a performance in this premiering festival? The festival has an open structure and we are happy for all new artistic ideas.

Justyna: Ha ha, thank you for the invitation - you made it public and now everything can happen in this matter ;) But let’s switch back to innovations: my experiences from participating in most western festivals are a little bit disappointing, and the reason is that there is no possibility to meet other choirs except short moments during concerts or award ceremonies, but in case of competitions, this is not the best time to make friends, because choirs are concentrated on themselves. In my opinion your approach, including pre-festival period and motivating choirs to cooperate, opens a new era in choral festivals. How will work in clusters look like?

Gent: The online working sessions of the Choral Cluster are dedicated to the introduction of the ensembles to each other and to the creation of their joint program for the festival. We will work with choirs to encourage them to coordinate the concert program with each other and create a joint concert dramaturgy for their festival performances.This process is not a spontaneous one. It needs artistic creativity, international understanding and experience in concert programming. We have been looking for a choral personality to support this innovative idea and are happy to have Timothy Wayne-Wright, former King’s Singers with a 1500-concerts experience around the world, accepting the position of the Artistic Director for the CHORALSPACE Winter Festival. Tim will lead the working process of the Choral Cluster and help the participating choirs to create exceptional performances for the festival.

Justyna: It sounds really great and I wish I would also be a part of this event. And of course I wish you that it will take part in scheduled time - I am rather optimistic in this subject. Can I ask you about something more - the CHORALSPACE itself. What exactly is it?
Gent: CHORALSPACE is a non-profit organization with the aim to grow projects in three main areas with one clear, global mission – to give individual voices and ensembles a space to #learn, #create and #perform: The pedagogical activities are included in the CHORALSPACE Academy – an online university starting in September 2021 and featuring 38 weekly workshops on different themes of choral music. The creative area of CHORALSPACE will include workshops on broadening the focus of choral music. This will inspire choral musicians to start developing interesting and fresh ideas, allowing them to reach new and larger audiences. The outstanding performing program includes among others the Winter Festival in December 2021 and a series of three concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall starting in March 2022.

Justyna: Thank you for this interview, I am really glad that even in those strange pandemic times something new and good is being born. Additional information concerning those exciting plans are available on Choralspace’s website: www.choralspace.org. I will end it up with the quotation from one popular piece: may your days be merry and bright ;) Good luck, Gent and the whole Choralspace Team!


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