Sing For Your — Breakfast!
In the Prague Conservatory concert hall: Young kids, mostly early elementary-school age, and their parents.
On the stage: Empty choir ‘risers’ (stands). Nothing happens. Where is the choir?
Suddenly, “Allelujah! Allelujah!” bursts from the balcony above. The 35 voices from The Prague Philharmonic Choir (SBOR) sing the main theme from Handel’s Messiah. Startled kids twist around in their seats and stare up at the singers.
It’s all part of the fun and surprises as part of the Philharmonic Choir’s programs for young children and families, this one held in mid-November. Now in its 79th season, the Prague Philharmonic Choir has traditionally had an orchestral partner, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; the choir’s principal conductor is Lukáš Vasilek.
The choir files down on to the stage and fills the risers. In the meantime, program host and music publicist Petr Kadlec asks the audience, “Where was the music coming from? How many singers are there? What does a choirmaster do?” The kids call out their answers and Mr Kadlec cheerily accepts them all. Even when the children can’t agree on how many vocal parts the choir sings in (“Four!” “Three?” “Five.” “Two!” come the answers).
The choir’s four voices, today under choirmaster Jakub Zicha, each sing the phrase “And He shall reign forever” (starting with bass, then tenors, altos and finally sopranos) so that the young listeners can hear not only the separate parts but how they rise up the scale, and also how they fit together.After a beautiful folk song performed by guests Abbellimento Girls Choir, Mr Kadlec asks the audience, “What must you do every morning if you want to sing?”
“Eat breakfast!” a child answers. Everyone laughs.
The choirs sing Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and the children correctly identify it as sounding sad. It’s followed by Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which they say is happy; many of the children can identify by both title and composer. “I can hear it on my computer,” one very young voice in the audience cheerfully explains.
The late Sunday morning fun continues with more spontaneous audience questions (“Is it hard to conduct a choir?” “Is it hard to sing?” “How do you train?”). The choirs perform a few more pieces, concluding with an audience sing-along of Smetana’s Proč Bychom se Netěšili, the well-known theme from his opera The Bartered Bride.
And indeed, everyone left the auditorium after the morning’s beautiful music feeling very happy. – oo
The Prague Philharmonic Choir’s next Concert for Children and Families is planned for May 19, with the theme “Singing in the Spring.”
– Mary Matz, editor of Opus Osm
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička