All posts by anne

The Conductor

Mads Bille studied as organist and choral director at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, with additional studies in organ, vocal and choral direction in England and Sweden.

He has conducted numerous concerts in Denmark, across Europe and The United States, primarily as conductor for Herning Boys Choir. The past years, Mads has engaged himself in the role of singing in society and the role of choirs in church services. Both are main themes in Mads’ work in developing the popular and elite singing culture in Denmark.

Together with his colleague Christian Alstrup, Mads Bille has, of late, introduced the national initiative Sangens Hus (the House of Song). With support from the Danish Ministry of Culture, the initiative will grow to become a new cooperation forum for singing in Denmark. Sangens Hus officially opened on March 17th 2014.

Artistic director for the Jutland School of Singing
In 1999 Mads Bille founded the Jutland School of Singing, where he is now Artistic Director. The Jutland School of Singing was founded based on a wish to give the young singers in Herning Boys Choir (and its ’sister’, Midwest Girls Choir) a more in depth musical education than the two weekly choir practices could offer.

Today the Jutland School of Singing handles a substantial networking cooperation, and offers, among other things, courses and master classes for music teachers and choir conductors, besides the daily work with the approx. 200 children and young people, all students of the school of singing, as well as the conservatory preparatory MGK education for young talented singers.

Talent work starts early
Every year, when school starts after the summer holidays, Mads Bille and the teachers from the Jutland School of Singing visit all 3rd grade classes in Herning schools. Here they scout for the boys and girls with the sought-after musicality. Naturally, it concerns good singing voices, but also rhythmic awareness and a clear attentiveness and enjoyment of music.

The children who show ability and interest are invited to audition for the school of singing. After a year in the preparatory school, the boys who have proved themselves qualified to continue, are ready to become regular members of Herning Boys Choir. When the children are accepted into Herning Boys Choir, or Midwest Girls Choir, they also begin a 10-year-long musical education at the Jutland School of Singing. In their free time, they attend ear and vocal training, and learn to play an instrument, most often piano.

The Choir

Herning Boys Choir was founded in 1949 and is one of Denmark’s oldest boys and men’s choirs. Herning Boys Choir is inspired by the classic English timbre and choral tradition, but also has new choral music in the repertoire, and often commissions and premieres works by modern composers. The choir represents the elite in boys and men’s choirs, and has since 1984 been under the leadership of Mads Bille.

Concerts and tours
Herning Boys Choir sings at service in Herning Church. Furthermore, the choir has an extensive concert programme with approximately 25 concerts a year at home and abroad. The choir has performed in all of Denmark’s 10 cathedrals and has in recent years toured in England, Hungary, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Scotland, The Faroe Islands, The United States, France, the Baltic States and more. The choir has performed in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Notre Dame in Paris, Washington National Cathedral, Berliner Dom and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco amongst other places.

Herning Boys Choir has worked with conductors such as Sir David Willcocks, John Hiccocks and Miltiades Caridis, and has an ongoing collaboration with Christopher Robinson. In 2012 the choir hosted the English conductor and composer Alexander Prior, premiering his ‘En ny himmel’ – a grand modern choral work written particularly for Herning Boys Choir by the, at the time, merely 19-year-old Prior. In 2013 the choir performed Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ under the leadership of Andrew Nethsingha, performing with his world famous Choir of St. Johns College from Cambridge.

A life in song
Herning Boys Choir consists of 50 boys and men, almost all of which have been part of the choir since they started in the preparatory school at the age of 8 or 9. Alongside working with the choir, members have solo singing lessons and ear training at the Jutland School of Singing.

For many of the young singers, the years in Herning Boys Choir and the Jutland School of Singing mark the beginning of a professional career in music. The boys choir has by now become an important supplier of singers to the country’s music conservatories and to the Royal Opera’s school for solo vocalists, the Opera Academy. Herning Boys Choir has since 2001 worked with the Danish National Opera in providing chorus members for boys’ rolls and more.

Herning Boys Choir has recorded a number of CD’s and made several broadcasts for Danish TV and radio, and in 2009 the choir and Mads Bille were portrayed in the documentary film ‘En stemme for livet’ (‘A Voice for Life’). It was also that same year that the choir celebrated its 50th anniversary and, on that occasion, was under the protectorate of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

 

The Keyboardplayer

Kristian Marius Andersen has been the regular accompanist for Herning Boys Choir since he came to Denmark in 2005.

Kristian was raised in England and trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In 2005 he moved to Denmark and continued his training at the Royal Music Academy in Aarhus, where he graduated as a soloist in 2012. After Kristian’s debut concert, a reviewer wrote that he was “One of his generation’s most notable organists”.

Kristian Marius Andersen has a substantial career, both as an organ soloist and as a jazz Hammond organ player. No matter the instrument, Kristian is esteemed for his great musicality, his sparkling technical abundance and, not withstanding, as an incredible improviser.

Kristian and his unusual talent were portrayed in the documentary Tangentspilleren (The Keyboard Player), which deservedly was the most watched Danish documentary in 2013.