The grand finish of a round jubilee
On Saturday, 22nd November 2003, a gala concert in honour of the 15th anniversary of the Mixed Choir Tirnavia foundation took place in the Theatre of Jan Palarik in Trnava. The programme was ushered by a well-known TV reporter Jana Hospodarova who helped the annual concert to be really outstanding. An excellent introductory choir performance accompanied by Verdi’s opera Patter Noster only exponentiated the feeling of the importance of the whole undertaking itself where also many important guests were present.Amongst invited guests there were the Mayor of Trnava Stefan Bosnak, who became the godfather of choir’s first album, text writer Jan Strasser, music composer Ilja Zeljenka, some of whose operas became part of choir’s repertoire, and as well the founder choir conductor Gabriel Kalapos. After the introductory opera compositions, during break the guests and audience could watch a painting gallery exhibition ‘AND Gallery’ in the theatre saloon.
The second part of the concert dedicated to folk music where folklore from the West as well as the East parts of our country took part was a nice variation of the programm. The audience could see a short document surveying the whole existence of the choir Tirnavia. After a while there was time for a ceremonial speech by the conductor Andrej Rapant himself who expressed with a witt but at the same time with great impressions his enjoyment of the whole undertaking.
The choir founder Gabriel Kalapos was awarded the title ‘honourable’ conductor by Trnava’s Mayor. The presence of the text writer Jan Strasser was not accidental. Tirnavia performed the song “Tri slová” (3 Words) which he composed and which appeared in a well-known Slovak film “Neberte nam princeznú” (Do not Take our Princess Away). As he said later on a stage he haven’t heard this song in this modification before. The song was very successful and formed the last part of the whole gala concert.
After the concert finished the guests went to a Theatre’s Mirror Room for a conjunct celebration, where the party continued until late night hours.
The choir has an own charisma.
The present Tirnavia choir conductor, Andrej Rapant, is already dedicated to music for 15 years. Since 1996 he was singing in this choir and in March this year (2003) he became its conductor. He has disclosed something about himself, about his beginnings, his biggest adventures and plans for future in a short interview.
- How do you feel about you being the one who took Tirnavia through its 15th year of successful existence?
“The fact that it was me is just a coincidence. So I would not connect this with my person. I do what I like. Music is a part of my life, I like working with people and the work of a conductor is something, which allows me to link these 2 passions together. At the moment I am in charge and I will do my best to help this choir grow, to make its aims happen and to continue giving joy to those people who are in the audience.”
- In your curriculum vitae we can find that you studied at The Economics University in Bratislava. Does it happen that you use your economics education in your work with the choir?
“Yes, it does happen. Such a big choir needs its financial provision and I am using my education in Tirnavia. The choir acts as a normal legal entity or civil association and deals with money as such. Often there is no other chance than to develop a good marketing when we need to get some services. Of course, we must act as in the market when somebody wants us to perform a concert. Unfortunately everything is measured by money, so it affects us as well. These circumstances create a space for the use of my economic education in the work with Tirnavia. For the future, however, we would like to create a manager position who would take care of all these matters.”
- When and how did that important moment happen when you have decided to devote your life to music?
“I already started to be interested in music when I was a small child. It wasn’t purely my decision, because children can’t decide for themselves. The thanks belong to my parents for bringing me to music. Of course the more mature a person is the more they start to realize the opinions of the surrounding world and form their views on everything happening around them, and the same is happening in music. A person is usually supervised/ lead until certain age of life by other persons who already have some placement and experience. It can’t be characterized by age. And then after a certain moment he realizes that he can have his own opinion on certain things in music. When a person finds out that he or she already has this opinion, he or she starts to think about how to transfer this opinion to reality.”
- How long have you been a conductor?
“The question could sound how short (laugh). At the moment it is my ninth month.”
- On the stage during a performance you are the man number one. All eyes in the choir are set only on you. Besides the fact that you must go on well with other choir members, are you trying to remove nerves and stress of the singers from the performance?
“The singers are very sensitive people and they react on everything what appears in their eye perception. That means that a conductor is there to reassure the singers and give them a feeling of confidence. Mimic helps to achieve this in the first place, which means smile and eye contact in general. The singers must be mainly reassured so that they don’t feel uneasy on a stage, but relaxed and happy.”
- Where are you planning to travel with Tirnavia in the near future?
“The closest date is our Christmas concert which will be performed together with Trnava Chamber Orchestra, on 21st December in the St. Jacob’s Church. As for plans for the next year, we would really like to record our own CD.
Our ambition is to take part in some competition in Slovakia, Czech Republic or Austria.
In the autumn we plan a concert in honour of the conductor Ivan Hrusovsky, then Christmas concert again and in year 2005 we would like to take part in one of the important European competitions.”
- You work with a mixed choir. Have you ever imagined a work with a pure men or women choir?
“There were proposals to include in our repertoire compositions which are only for men or women choirs. I personally believe that it’s more a question of when we come across some interesting score, which is written only for one of them. Then sure we will be glad to accept it.”
- What was your greatest experience with Tirnavia until now?
“The greatest and emotionally strongest one was entering the stage in Montreux in Switzerland.
We received the fourth place, but this is not as important as the fact that we proved ourselves that we can reach to the bottom of our reserves.We managed to say ourselves: okay, we go for it and will work hard for several weeks. And when we stand on the stage confidence and smile must shine from our faces, so that nobody knows how much work and effort is behind it all. When we entered that stage I had the feeling that this choir has its own charisma.”
TH Extra, Trnava, 24 November 2004
After a beautiful gala concert the guests and participants continued entertaining themselves on a banquet.
We asked some of them several questions.
1.How do you feel about choir singing?
2.Would you have courage to stand on a stage?
3.Do you usually sing at home whilst doing different ordinary activities?
4.What is your impression from tonight’s undertaking?
Stefan Bosnak, The Mayor of Trnava:
1.“I like it. Besides those beautiful performances there is usually also something nice to look at.”
2.“I don’t think so.”
3.“Sometimes, I do. Also at work, it’s a kind of relax for me. Even one sentence from a song is enough. When a person is under pressure, he needs to relax a little bit, so sometimes the members of staff can hear a melody from my office. Secretaries already know what mood I am in according to what I sing.”
4.“Very pleasant, because I am glad that Trnava is live and that there are always so many people, especially young people who want to do something over and above. They don’t wait to get everything, but they are trying to present themselves and give joy to others. I am glad to have people like that in Trnava.”
Peter Horvath, an employee of MK SR:
1.“I always admire nice music and Trnava has always been a place of good music. Especially choir singing is a domain since 19th century and I believe that Tirnavia choir is the last little root blooming and representing choir singing as well as quality of tradition.”
2.“I think not in singing. That is my handicap, however I would gladly use my courage to do a commentary for a concert.”
3.“I do, but can’t guarantee the quality of my singing performance. They have to tolerate me at home.”
4.“We could listen to one good quality choir which is on a higher standard level of Slovakia.”
Daniel Vopat, a co-founder and member of Tirnavia:
1.“I like it otherwise I wouldn’t be here and sing tonight. I think that every normal person overworked himself to that condition. No one is born with love to classical music.”
2.“Well, I was thinking about that already. When I was deciding about what to do after school, I wanted to sing professionally but later on I aborted that idea because I was not brave enough to do that. I think that now after years I would probably have courage for it.”
3.“Of course I do. I sing all the time and the whole family is telling me off.Nobody likes it, because I sing bass parts, which are incoherent.But folk songs as well. “
4.Fantastic, because I could hear nothing. When you sing in a choir the acoustics is distributed in the way that everything is going to the front. I felt very good when singing.”
Jana Hospodarova, reporter:
1.“I was singing in a choir as a child at an Art School and then at a college. I have nice memories from that period. We experienced intensively every performance. Now thanks Tirnavia I have remembered everything, although on a different level.”
2.“No, I am not a singer and I have never been. I sing satisfactory and adequately like everybody else. There would be some courage probably but talent is missing.”
3.“I love music and often buy CDs. Every time I have my favourite singer and not only am I singing but dancing as well.”
4.“Fantastic. I didn’t really expect that it would be so beautiful like it was. This choir surprised me and I couldn’t believe that it was so wonderful and magnificent.”
Jan Strasser, text writer:
1.“I would tell lies if I said that I am an expert in singing, however today it was very interesting. I learnt something about new musical areas.”
2.“Well, it would require very late night hour, or better early morning one. Otherwise no, not really. I envy singers and I would probably like to do singing, but I realize by dispositions.”
3.“Sure I’m singing, especially when writing texts. There were times when I had even forced composers to use my musical ideas and I was singing to them. When once now already deceased Jaro Filip run away from his piano when I was trying to create the atmosphere for a text. Since then I am not doing it any more.”
4.“The evening is nice because it’s the evening of those who are celebrating and want to relish it. It is fine here.”