"Singing is the reflection of the soul."

                                                                 René Collo


Everyone has a voice – but for it to become an instrument requires dedication. Although each voice has a unique character, a group of voices can be unified in perfect harmony. But what if this harmony is missing? Unfortunately, I have witnessed unmotivated choirs singing at subpar levels. What could be the problem? When I participated in a master class with Norbert Balatsch, the former chorus master of the renowned Bayreuth Festival in Germany, he shared with us his opinion on the matter. He said, “The choir is always a mirror image of its conductor.” This correlation is the heart of the problem.

A choir requires a team effort between the conductor and singers. It is a true art form to be able to blend the different voice types to produce perfect harmony. The conductor has to invest their skills, knowledge, passion, and especially personality. For me, an important aspect in choir music is the interpretation of the text – or to be precise – the meaning of the text. Professor Erwin Ortner, conductor of the renowned Arnold Schönberg Choir in Vienna, Austria said, “In the beginning was the word…”, meaning that studying and understanding the text should be the conductor’s critical first step.

My former choir was often praised by critics, saying it was an “intimate performance”, with an “extremely motivated group” (Kleine Zeitung, Austria). Other publications claimed “perfect production” (Die Woche, Austria), and “radiant visage” (Kronenzeitung, Austria). Most audiences will notice immediately whether a group displays emotions or not. This differentiates an excellent choir from the mediocre. I always ask my choir singers to feel for the piece rather than simply sing the right notes.

To achieve excellence, an intensive and motivated leader is needed. This wonderful challenge fascinates me and provides a boost while I am conducting.