Zürich offers a great variety of music events that can satisfy even the most sophisticated tastes.
There are concerts and festivals of every genre, but one choir stands out for me: The Neuer Zürcher Kammerchor.
What I like about the nzük is their unique repertoire of religious and secular music. They cover a diverse and sometimes experimental range, from oratorio to a cappella, as well as contemporary compositions.
The Neuer Zürcher Kammerchor is delighting Swiss audiences
The nzük has been on stage since 2003, and this group of talented singers has self-funded its activity in order to delight and feed the souls of Swiss audiences.
Under the direction of Prof. Beat Schäfer, this young choir has undertaken several challenges so far, including unconventional programs of ancient and modern music, in many different languages. Professor Schäfer is a well-known choir director who is also heading the department of "choir, organ and church music" at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK).
We have asked Prof. Beat Schäfer three questions to better understand the activity of the choir and their challenging repertoire.
James: „Prof. Schäfer, could you tell us more about the broad selection of music you have challenged the Neuer Zürcher Kammerchor with, and what makes this choir unique?“
Schäfer: „Besides the common singing skills, the most important requirements are flexibility, curiosity and the courage to engage not only in well-known literature, but also in very new or very old, strange or unknown pieces. This increases a choir sound, a good intonation and rhythmical sureness. Therefore, the nzük regularly sings first performances and rarely heard pieces as a contrast to standard works.“
„We have already performed in more than eight languages. By far, the Hungarian songs of our current program have been the greatest challenge... Our audience likes the variety, ranging from folk songs, motets, light choral music, works with and works without instruments, all the way to cantatas or oratorios.“
James: „What is the casting like? And what are the requirements to become a chamber choir singer?“
Schäfer: „The members of the choir are cast through auditions where the talent is asked to sing from sheet music. All our choir members are amateur singers, but they are incredibly talented, are willing to rehearse once a week and want to be part of the group.“
„Being part of a musical ensemble requires patience and collaboration. For our next program, we are seeking for tenor or bass voices, so we would be happy to hear from any interested, and musically talented, Newly Swissed readers..."
James: „What about the next performances?“
Schäfer: On February 6 and 7, the nzük is performing a program of Hungarian choral music of the 20th and 21st centuries. The works from Kodály and his ‚disciples’ have an impressive and figurative language, and it is a unique opportunity to be able to enjoy a type of music that is not often heard.“
„In July, the choir will be presenting a musical zoo with compositions about animals from different centuries and countries. You can find more information on our website or on our Facebook page.“
We wonder: Will a "Newly Swissed" be the next bass?
(All photographs copyright nzük)