Prague Choir Looking To ‘Take It Higher´

Taking your 3rd-year choir up a step this season Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.09.2008 12:56:32 (updated on 01.09.2008) Reading time: 3 minutes

Written by Paul Coates
for International Choir of Prague

Raising a song by a step is certainly one of the easiest and most used arranging methods for lifting the energy of a tune and making it more interesting.  Taking your 3rd year choir up a step, is a lot more difficult according to Šárka Coleman, co-director of the International Choir of Prague.  But that´s exactly what she and her husband/co-director Brendan Coleman have in mind.

Now starting their third year with the choir, they are hoping that this will be the year when the choir comes into its own. “When we started the choir, we kept hearing that it takes 3 years to establish a business.  But, we didn´t know if a choir could be considered along the same lines.  Now all the things we struggled with over the first 2 years seem to be firming up finally, so I guess it´s true” said Šárka.

One of the main issues in the beginning was recruiting singers.  They started with 6 singers in their Developmental Choir (ages 6-8), and 12 in their Concert Choir (ages 9-18).  This year, with the inclusion of their Adult Choir they start the season with nearly 75 singers, and hope for more.

“How do you develop your repertoire when you have a small number of untrained singers” asked Brendan.  “Without a good repertoire, and good singing, how do you recruit and grow. You can´t really perform in public much, so people don´t get to see or hear you”.  Even though he and Šárka had over 10 years of experience working with international choirs, they weren´t sure that they could start one from scratch.

Now things seem to be falling into place for them.

This past May they won a Bronze Medal at the Olomouc Festa Musicale international choir competition in which nearly 200 choirs participated, coming from as far away as Singapore and Korea.  Several individuals, businesses and organizations, including Bohemia Piano, Prague British School and Bohemia Bagel sponsored their trip to Olomouc and helped fund the production of their annual Spring Concert at the City Library theater in Prague 1.  And, says Brendan, with a sigh of relief, ‘the singers started to come´.  Over the summer, they say, there have been numerous calls asking for information and requesting auditions.

With more singers, the directors are looking to improve and build up the over-all repertoire, which centers on classic Soul and R&B, World, Pop, Jazz, Gospel, African, Latin and Caribbean music. 

They have also launched a Chamber Choir to take on more difficult arrangements, and continue to improve their website,  Besides producing DVD´s of their annual Christmas & Spring Concerts, they are planning to record their first CD this year.  They will perform regularly this fall at the Jet Set/Ikon Hotel on Jáma street near Wencelas Square, and they will offer workshops in dance, movement, drumming and more.  And the plans include returning to Olomouc in May to improve on the bronze medal.

But they´re not closing the doors to new singers yet.  Šárka  says “We still have a lot of room to grow, and we´d love to fill our rehearsal room with new people”.

Brendan says a classic song written by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sly Stone, one that he´s wanted to do with a choir for a long time, could be the theme for this year.  “When Sly sang ‘I Want To Take You Higher´, that´s exactly what he did”

The new season begins Monday September 8th.  Interested singers can contact them through their web site.

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