Following on from Wednesday’s introduction to the Eurovision Choir Of The Year where we met our choirs and took a look at the rules of the Choir of the Year Contest, today let’s meet the three judges who will decide which choir will take home the trophy.
Elīna Garanča was born into a musical family in Riga, Latvia, where her father was a choral conductor and her mother a singer, under whom she learned at the Latvian Academy of Music before continuing her studies in Vienna and the United States.
It was Garanča’s triumphant 2003 Salzburg Festival debut, as Annio in La clemenza di Tito with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, that was responsible for her international breakthrough. She made her Vienna State Opera debut as Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana and became a regular with the company, initially specializing in Mozart roles before becoming equally dominant in bel canto and Romantic repertoire. Her Viennese appearances included Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Riccardo Muti, and seminal accounts of two roles on which she would indelibly put her stamp: Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and Charlotte in a new, televised staging of Massenet’s Werther. To date, she has sung more than 150 performances with the company.
The Latvian mezzo-soprano is consistently praised for her iconic portrayals of the leading roles in her repertoire. Forging deep connections with each part she plays, she is a consummate artist whose distinctively dark, sultry voice boasts a power and warmth to which her regal bearing and alluring looks provide the perfect counterpoise. She regularly headlines landmark productions at the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Bavarian State Opera, and Vienna State Opera, where she recently became the youngest female singer to be honored with a Kammersängerin Award.
John was born in London in 1945 and received his first musical education as a chorister at Highgate School. He studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first published compositions and conducted his first recording while still a student.
His compositional career has embraced both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television, and specialist writing for such groups as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King’s Singers. His larger choral works, Gloria (1974), Requiem (1985), Magnificat (1990), Psalmfest (1993) and Mass of the Children (2003) have been performed many times in Britain, North America, and a growing number of other countries.
From 1975 to 1979 he was Director of Music at Clare College, whose choir he directed in a number of broadcasts and recordings. After giving up the Clare post to allow more time for composition, he formed the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir primarily dedicated to recording, and he now divides his time between composition and conducting. He has guest-conducted or lectured at many concert halls, universities, churches, music festivals, and conferences in Europe, Africa, North and Central America and Australasia.
In 1980 he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music. He was honoured in the 2007 Queen’s New Year Honours List, being awarded a CBE for services to music.
There can’t be an Anglican church in the United Kingdom that hasn’t got several copies of Carols for Choirs (in many volumes) or who’s choir has not performed a piece of work by John Rutter. In 2011 John composed a special piece of choral music entitled This is the Day for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, which was performed by the choir of Westminster Abbey.
Nicolas was born in Switzerland, where he completed his studies with high honours in choral conducting from the Luzern Conservatory, he also studied voice, earning his concert diploma as a baritone.
Providing listeners with a new perspective on choral music, and creating new kinds of performance experiences are two of Nicolas Fink’s particular pursuits. Mr. Fink conducted the Berlin Radio Chorus’ renowned production Human Requiem at the 44th Arts Festival Hong Kong and at the Klara Festival in Brussels. He conceptualized and conducted the ‘visual concert’ production of the Norwegian premiere of Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé with photographer Magnus Skrede and the Edvard Grieg Kor. With the WDR Cologne Radio Chorus, he helped develop and conducted the acclaimed choreographed production of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil.
Nicolas has conducted the radio choruses of WDR Cologne and MDR Leipzig, the Berlin Radio Chorus, the Choeur de Radio France, the Vocalconsort Berlin, the Coro Casa de Musica Porto, the Cor del Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Edvard Grieg Choir and many others. He also is a sought after chorusmaster and has collaborated with dozens of leading conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Marek Janowski, and Daniele Gatti. In 2014, he began his tenure as the choral director of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Chorus.
As an educator, Nicolas directed conducting workshops in Hong Kong and Indonesia, and co-directed the choral conducting masterclass at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival with Simon Halsey. Following his successful collaboration with the Edvard Grieg Youth Choir in Norway, he will continue working with young singers as the conductor of the Swiss Youth Choir.
What You Need To Know
Below is your handy guide to the events this evening, a recap of the choirs and the pieces they will be singing. Of course at the Eurovision Song Contest we spend a lot of time analysing the running orders as they are released, with this being a new competition, everything is a bit speculative. The hunch is that this order slightly favours Estonia, Austria and Latvia – there may be no televote but running order does come into play, even with the calibre of music professionals judging the show.
Each Choir will be separated by a ‘postcard’ video, similar to that seen in the Eurovision Song Contest, and the judges will be given five minutes at the end to decide the results. There are four elements that choirs will be judged on:
- The artistic personality of the Choir
- Faithfulness to the musical score
- Quality of the sound and intonation
- General musicianship
Where And How To Watch
Live TV broadcasts will air in these countries:
- Belgium (La Trois) 20:00 local time
- Denmark (DRK) 20:00 local time
- Estonia (ETV 2) 21:00 local time
- France (Arte Culture) 20:00 local time
- Hungary (M5) 20:00 local time
- Latvia (LTV 1) 21:00 local time
- Slovenia (RTV 1) as live
- Serbia (RTS 2) 21:00 local time
- Wales (S4C) 19:00 local time
They’ll be a delayed broadcast in:
- Albania (RTSH 1) 22 July, 21:40 local time
- Austria (ORF 2) 22 July, 22:50 local time
- Germany (WDR) 30 July, 07:40 local time
- Germany (SWR) 5 August, 21:20 local time
And if you don’t live in any of those countries then you can watch the livestream through the official YouTube channel.