Provide chances for performance and cultural exchange
Sweden S:t Jacobs Youth Choir Concert
Recent champion of the world most prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Music, S:t Jacobs Youth Choir aims to give special and diverse performances firmly rooted in a Swedish choir tradition yet strives to develop a modern and interesting direction of programming by bringing us an evening of choral music featuring Swedish and Scandinavian Folk Music, European Sacred Music, North American Profane Contemporary Music and Spirituals and Light Music.
Mantyjarvi - El Hambo
Poulenc - Kyrie from Mass in G
Rachmaninov - Ave Maria
Whitacre - Nox Aurumque
Hogan - My Soul's been anchored in the Lord
Enthusiasm from Northern Europe
S:t Jacob’s Youth Choir: European champion to debut in Hong Kong
S:t Jacob’s Youth Choir (“SJUK”), the award winner of the European Grand Prix in 2014, is premiering in Hong Kong all the way from Sweden and performing at the “2015 World Youth and Children's Choir Festival – Hong Kong”. In addition to the Middle Ages and modern European church music, they will also perform Swedish folk songs, contemporary music and “Encircled” by the Hong Kong composer Lesley Ka-hei Chan. The concert will be held on 16th July 2015 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall.
The success of SJUK is rather dreamlike as everything happens in only seven years. In 2007, the parish of Stockholm led a project named “Storstadsprojektet” to encourage more young people to participate in choral singing. This gave SJUK an opportunity to have their first concert on 17th November in the same year. The choir started to develop on their own in 2009 and now they are mainly performing and holding activities at the Stockholm Cathedral built 700 years ago, which is the oldest church in Stockholm, and at the S:t Jacob’s Church constructed in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque colourways. SJUK holds about five concerts per year and occasionally performs in church activities.
SJUK seeks to provide traditional choral training to the members with modern and interesting means. Therefore, not only do they possess energetic and gentle voices as a typical Swedish choir, but are also able to go beyond normalcy, changing their tone colour and adding body movements in accordance with the pieces to give a more splendid and contagious performance. Such uniqueness allows them to master different music styles and their diversity possibly explains their success in winning the European Grand Prix, the most recognizable choir competition, in 2014.
In the concert held in Hong Kong, SJUK will be performing “Biegga Luothe” by the Swedish composer Jan Sandström and which they had sung in the European Grand Prix, and “Poison Tree” by the Finnish composer Laura Sippola. “Biegga Luothe” borrows a folk song from the Sámi, indigenous people inhabiting Northern Europe. The mystery of Northern Europe is presented in several ways – imitations of different cries with refrains, irregular rhythms accompanied by drums and impersonations of tweets, in coordination with the diverting chords. “Poison Tree” is originally a poem written by the British poet William Blake. In this piece, a rhythmic minor melody is used to drain away the anger repressed for long.
Apart from the above songs, SJUK also picks more than ten pieces of Middle Ages and contemporary music, including folk songs from Sweden and Northern European regions – e.g. the Swedish folk song “Hurra här komma de gossar” (literally “Here Comes The Boys”) rearranged by the Swedish composer Gunnar Hahn, “Pust” (literally “Breathing”, in which expiratory sounds are widely adopted) by Susanne Rosenberg, and “El Hambo” by the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi who uses different tempos to characterize the local color of Northern Europe; classic European church music – e.g. “Ave Maria” by Rachmaninoff, “Kyrie” by Poulenc and “Nunc Dimittis” by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt; and contemporary music – e.g. “Dobbin's Flowery Vale” by the Finnish composer Matti Kallio which is a piece of soul music vocalizing a wordless Irish folk song, “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” by the American composer Moses Hogan which is an American spiritual sung in resonant voices, and “Encircled” by the Hong Kong composer Lesley Chan. Their song selections attest to the objective of the choir, inheriting the arts of choral singing with distinctive angles and diversifications.
SJUK in particular hopes to develop choir members’ enthusiasm for music through practices and performances. Just as what they mentioned – their devotion to music is not bounded by the accomplishments they achieved or their interactions with the conductor. SJUK’s concert in Hong Kong will be a golden opportunity for them to share their enthusiasm come a long way from Northern Europe.
Dr. Austin Yip, Lecturer, Hong Kong Baptists University
Tickets are now available at URBTIX. www.urbtix.hk
For each purchase of standard tickets for Sydney Children’s Choir, Cantemus Pro Musica Girls’ Choir, The Oxford Gargoyles and S:t Jacobs Youth Choir: 20% off for any 2 programmes; 30% off for any 3 programmes. Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.