About our choir
KANTILÉNA is a prestigious vocal ensemble, a laureate of numerous international choir competitions. They collaborate with leading artists, conductors, orchestras, and contemporary composers, performing their latest works in concerts and recording them on sound recordings. The choir, consisting of three sections, currently includes around 150 singers whose ages span between 5 and 19.
Throughout their history, Kantiléna have graced the stage in over 1,500 concerts in their home country as well as in seventeen European states, the USA, Canada, Japan, and Russia. They've garnered particular acclaim for their stylistic renditions of spiritual music, captivating audiences in more than 250 sacred spaces. Among the more renowned of these venues are the Stephansdom in Vienna, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, Hofkirche in Dresden, St. Nicholas Church in Prague, St. Procopius Basilica in Třebíč, Le Mont-St. Michel, Sacré-Cœur in Paris, St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, and the National Shrine in Washington, to name but a few.
To an assembly of two hundred thousand faithful, Kantiléna had the honor of performing during the mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Prague on his visit to the Czech Republic. The choir regularly participates in benefit concerts, such as those organized by the association 'Podané ruce', the 'Peace to Men of Good Will' concert in Velehrad, and the annual Advent concerts broadcast by Czech Television from St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Additionally, Kantiléna frequently collaborates with the dulcimer music ensemble 'Hradišťan' Among their numerous performances, they have notably showcased their combined talents at the highly successful Christmas concerts held at the Besední dům in Brno.
The choir's dramaturgy encompasses a wide variety of genres. The ensemble provides not just sacred programmes, which primarily focus on Renaissance vocal polyphony and contemporary works by Czech composers, but also traditional and non-traditional renditions of folk songs and Christmas carols. Additionally, Kantiléna often showcases music-dramatic works, such as the opera Brundibár, the ballet Špalíček, and the opera About a Cock and Hen. In June 2009, the choir exceeded the limitations of children's and youth ensembles and presented the global debut of Jiří Šotola's unique narrative, The Eighteen Jerusalems, for the first time in its history. This endeavour led the choir to the creation of an original theatre production.
Over the years, Kantiléna has amassed numerous accolades from international choir competitions. Among these, the ensemble holds in highest regard their absolute victories at the competitions in Arezzo, Italy (1981) and Neerpelt, Belgium (1984 and 2006). In 2008, Kantiléna claimed two gold medals at the World Choir Olympics, also distinguishing itself as the top European choir in its categories. Their collection of prestigious awards expanded in 2009 at the choral competition in Montreux, Switzerland, where the choir clinched the audience award and an "Excellent" diploma. In 2013, Kantiléna achieved both 1st and 2nd places at the 67th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The year 2015 marked another pinnacle in their illustrious journey. Competing in three categories at the 2nd European Choir Games & Grand Prix of Nations in Magdeburg, Germany, Kantiléna triumphed in the "Grand Prix of Nations" by winning gold medals in two categories. In the Spiritual Music category, whose pinnacle contest was the "Champions competition", Kantiléna secured an absolute victory.
In 2017, the choir participated in another international competition, this time in Riga, Latvia. At the 3rd European Choir Games & Grand Prix of Nations, Kantiléna garnered gold medals in all three categories they contested. At the Lisbon Sings 2022 competition, Kantiléna achieved two gold medals in both competing categories they took part in (Spiritual Choral Music and Youth Choirs), with an absolute victory in the Youth Choirs category.
Origins of the Choir
Kantiléna was conceived from the inspiration of Ivan Sedláček in 1956, originally birthed as the Šlapanický Children's Choir. Merely six years into their intense dedication and practice, they captured attention by clinching victory in a national competition held in Bratislava. By 1967, what started as a school choir had evolved into a selective ensemble, adopting its current name. Gradually, Kantiléna forged collaborations with leading composers, orchestras, and conductors, thereby establishing an impeccable reputation, both domestically and internationally. The ensemble owes its robust vocal technique to collaborations with voice pedagogues Prof. Jiří Bára and Prof. Anna Barová, the latter being a longstanding distinguished opera soloist of the National Theatre in Brno. Since 1984, Kantiléna has operated under the aegis of the State Philharmonic of Brno (now known as the Brno Philharmonic).
From 2006 onwards, the baton of leadership transitioned from Ivan Sedláček to conductor Jakub Klecker, who himself is a former singer of the choir. As of 2020, the artistic helm has been taken up by Michal Jančík.