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21st Century Chorus, KKL Luzern 2019


Music

From dread to addiction

In 2012, during my last year of secondary school, I had to select which Gymnasium to go to and what subjects to take. One of the subject options was between music and graphic design. I chose the former since the Gymnasium Neufeld had a reputation for their school choir. Shortly before switching schools, our music teacher Hene Siegrist tried to quickly introduce us into what we'd have to learn to sing from sheet music. It came way too late for me. While I had never really participated in music class before, sitting back was no longer going to be an option now. The trio of music teachers at Gymnasium Neufeld, consisting of Christoph Marti, Bruno Späti and Bernhard Kunz, were not going to let anyone hold back the performance of their choir. If something didn't sound right during rehearsals, it was common to go through the class one by one. Since I didn't have any idea what I was doing, Späti would often do exercises with me after class. While the classes were mostly about learning the pieces for the next concert, every semester there would also be a theory test about interval reading, interval hearing and rhythm dictation. Failing the class wasn't an option. Instead, after the first year, I was told to either improve or go painting. Thanks to the work of the music teachers I did improve bit by bit, and in the final year I was even allowed to sing a part all on my own for a piece with forty voices.

The harsh reality

After graduation, I wanted to continue singing but wasn't quite sure where to go. I remembered that my music teacher from secondary school, Hene, was singing in a choir himself. This was the 21st Century Chorus, known all around Lucerne for their film music renditions. Having improved so much during the last three years, I thought I'd give it a try and signed up for the auditions. I also invited my friend Pascal, who invited his friend Lena. At the audition we were about twenty candidates. It started with everyone together singing a short excerpt from Harry Potter for warm-up. Then we would go one by one to do a few singing exercises and determine vocal range. The conductor, Ludwig Wicki, the choir instructor, Andreas Wiedmer, and manager of the choir, Livio Schürmann, were all there to listen to every one of us. The auditions were certainly enjoyable and Andreas, who is a bass himself, even praised me for having such a low voice. One week later, I received the email telling me that I would not be accepted into their choir. Having never really had to deal with such a direct rejection before, I didn't want to accept it at first. Yet in the long run it was probably for the better. Pascal didn't make it either, but Lena did. Besides the 21st, I applied to the Akademischer Chor Zürich, the usual address for students. They never even replied to my email.

Since I also quit my piano lessons when I moved to Zürich for my studies, I didn't participate in any musical activities for two full years. In summer 2017, I stumbled upon a flyer at the ETH Hönggerberg campus, inviting people to join a choir. Since I was having trouble finding any motivation to go to the university campus more regularly, this seemed like a great opportunity. I came to one of their rehearsals, where I found out that they were actually the local church choir, having nothing to do with the university. Still, they were very nice to me and had a great choirmaster, so I stuck around for half a year and performed the christmas mass with them. I decided to leave afterwards since I wasn't Christian and no other member was within forty years of my age. For the next semester, I was very occupied building rockets and didn't have much time for studying, let alone singing.

A second attempt

During my excursion into rocket science, I got to know Gianni, a very friendly trombonist. His orchestra had recently performed in collaboration with a choir. He seemed convinced by their performance and wanted to join them, inviting me to come along. So in Summer 2018, we joined the Vocalino choir lead by Beat Dähler. They were welcoming and had a very relaxed atmosphere. Beat also directed another choir, the Contrapunto choir. Both of them rehearsed one after another on Thursday afternoon at the Kantonsschule Enge. Since this made it practical, I joined both of them. While both are lead by Beat, Contrapunto distinguishes itself by being a much smaller ensemble with around twenty to thirty members. I left both choirs when I started my new job in the beginning of 2020.

For new year's 2019, I dared to try my luck with the 21st Century Chorus auditions again. As before, I would be met by Ludwig, Andreas and Livio. This time they'd skip the warm-up piece and go straight to the one-on-one exercises. Singing before me was Thomas Häberling, a baritone with a high register that made me wish for ear protection. I wasn't able to come anywhere close to matching his projection. Luckily there aren't many other basses to contend with, so I was still accepted into the choir. What really astonished me, is that they recognized me again. Especially Ludwig, who conducts orchestras all around the world and leads the church choirs of the Hofkirche in Lucerne. My first project was a concert for the twenty year anniversary of the 21st Century Orchestra, a program going through the history of film music with an exclusive fanfare written by Howard Shore just for the occasion. The first concert happened to be exactly on my birthday, a better present than anything I could've wished for. We even had cake backstage. All in all, I can only praise the professional organization of this choir, as well as the great instruction by Andreas, especially when it comes to vocal technique.

After being accepted into the 21st, I decided that I'd want to improve my singing further and looked for vocal lessons. I ended up taking some lessons from Sascha Litschi and Juan Lago. Sascha is a talented, young baritone soloist who often supports the Vocalino choir in their concerts. He was very enthusiastic in trying different methods and often spent two hours on a single lesson for me. My first experience with Juan quickly showed me that he was a professional, teaching full-time and with no fear to tell me when I'm doing something wrong. Thanks to the lessons I can feel much more confident in my abilities now.

In summer of 2019, fueled by my newfound success, I auditioned for Colla Voce. A small ensemble at the university of Zurich that performs authentic renditions of Rennaissance pieces. I was admitted and joined the ongoing rehearsals for their thirty year anniversary program. Even though their music can be held by high standards, they have a very relaxed mode of operation, no matter how close the concert. The conductor Lukaz Reinitzer is fittingly calm and collected. After joining, I quickly bonded with Gregor Dernick, a bass with an astonishingly similar voice. He helped me get up to speed for the concert. The strength of the Colla Voce is the great interaction between different voices, which is supported by most rehearsals and concerts being in mixed formation.

Upcoming concerts

The Sound of Hans Zimmer & John Williams

21st Century Chorus & Orchestra

  • 12.11.2020
19:30
KKL Luzern
  • 13.11.2020
19:30
KKL Luzern
  • 11.12.2020
19:30
KKL Luzern
  • 12.12.2020
19:30
KKL Luzern

Sternenmusik

Neuer Zürcher Kammerchor

  • 6.2.2021
19:30
Ref. Kirche Zürich Oberstrass
  • 7.2.2021
17:00
Ref. Kirche Stäfa

Schütz - Cantiones Sacrae

Colla Voce

  • 27.3.2021
19:30
TBD
  • 28.3.2021
17:00
TBD
  • 1.4.2021
19:30
TBD
  • 2.4.2021
19:30
TBD
Fellowship of the Ring, Hallenstadion Zürich, 2019