Männerstimmen Basel: Les Choristes of Switzerland in Ukraine

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Männerstimmen Basel

Boasting numerous awards and having won the Grand Prix for the Best Choir in Krakow, Männerstimmen Basel is one of the most renowned choirs of Switzerland. The 30+ member men's choir tours Ukraine this October. Destinations grabbed the opportunity to ask the choir's members and conductor Oliver Rudin about the secrets of the trade, inspiration, and the image of Ukraine in Switzerland.

The world's musical heritage has numerous classical pieces. How do you select music for your repertoire from such a wide range?

I‘ve got the privilege that our vice conductor is also a musicologist: While he finds and discovers rarely performed music, together we try to create a diverse repertoire consisting contemporary works as well as music from the last centuries.

Conducting a choir that consists of more than 30 people is a real challenge. What is the main secret at your work?

Conductor Oliver Rudin
Conductor Oliver Rudin
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It‘s teamwork: you've to know the talents, listen to the wishes of the individuals and try to take the best decisions for the whole group.

You have already toured the USA, the UK and won the Grand Prix for the Best Choir in Poland's Krakow. Is it your first time in Ukraine?

It‘s our first time in Ukraine. However, we like to travel and to perform abroad, visiting different countries, learning about their culture and meeting their people. Or even better: making music together.

What image does Ukraine have in your country?

It‘s a country with a very rich cultural and historical background.

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Are you familiar with any Ukrainian composers or classical music pieces?

Bortnyanski is familiar to some places. It would be great though to discover more Ukrainian composers on concert programs in Switzerland in the near future.

Why did you choose to keep the old-fashioned clothes - all the knickerbockers, suspenders, and corduroy jackets?

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The idea is to hold a certain traditional image of male choirs and at the same time perform innovative repertoire with mostly young singers. The inspiration for that image is the movie „Les choristes“, showing young boys in a boarding school being educated by singing.

How do you all get along given the different views on art, music and the world in general?

We aim to respect and to understand all the different views of our fellow singers and citizens. That‘s why we promote openness and tolerance.

Photos provided by the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine.

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