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Top Pick: Balkan and Slovak choirs on tour

"No other folk songs have tugged at my heartstrings the way the Balkan ones have," said Ľubica Halová, director of the Bratislava Academic Choir. "Especially the ones with four-part harmony. There is nothing more beautiful than men singing in polyphony."
Audiences will this month have a chance to hear such harmonies as the Choir of Stanko Dragojević from Montenegro comes to town for three benefit concerts. The 30-member group was invited by the 25-member Bratislava Academic Choir, with whom they will perform. Both choirs are composed of male and female amateur singers.
The Bratislava choir will sing religious and secular Renaissance and Baroque music. Dragojević will lead her group mainly through Balkan composers, including some folk songs. The climax will come with a typical Balkan wedding song in which distinct male voices argue boisterously about whether the groom should marry.


Singers from the Montenegro choir.
photo: Courtesy Stanko Dragojevič

"No other folk songs have tugged at my heartstrings the way the Balkan ones have," said Ľubica Halová, director of the Bratislava Academic Choir. "Especially the ones with four-part harmony. There is nothing more beautiful than men singing in polyphony."

Audiences will this month have a chance to hear such harmonies as the Choir of Stanko Dragojević from Montenegro comes to town for three benefit concerts. The 30-member group was invited by the 25-member Bratislava Academic Choir, with whom they will perform. Both choirs are composed of male and female amateur singers.

The Bratislava choir will sing religious and secular Renaissance and Baroque music. Dragojević will lead her group mainly through Balkan composers, including some folk songs. The climax will come with a typical Balkan wedding song in which distinct male voices argue boisterously about whether the groom should marry.

Both choirs were founded in their countries' capitals, Bratislava and Podgorica. The roots of Dragojević's choir go back to 1880; Halová founded her choir eight years ago. Both groups have travelled abroad - mainly in Europe - and have received national and international awards.

A friendship between the choirs started after Montenegrin choir member Nikola Latković, 20, joined the Bratislava singers after coming to Slovakia to study graphic design.

"I sang a folk song on Student's Day, last year," he said. "A director of the Slovak language institute heard me and recommended I join the choir."

Latković's used his contacts back home to bring the Bratislava choir on a tour to Montenegro last July.

"I noticed there, on a picture in a castle, a medieval ruler who was not pictured in a castle among dignitaries - as is common here - but in nature surrounded by 'igrici,' men who sang songs about love," said Halová. "Singing and Montenegrins go together."

By Zuzana Habšudová

Concerts:
December 11/18:00 Primacial Palace on Primaciálne nám. 1, Bratislava
December 12/18:45 Roman Catholic Church on Tulipán, Trnava
December 14/18:00 Moyzes Hall on Vajanského nábrežie 12, Bratislava

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