Pop-up choir connects amateur singers with local artists
In Koor brings amateur and professional singers on stage together for pop-up performances in Antwerp and Kontich
Something to sing about
For more than five years, the vocalist, arranger and conductor has organised workshops for amateur singers. Each workshop leads up to a public performance, the apotheosis in the performance careers of most participants, who largely lack any stage experience. This month, Primusz presents his latest edition, In Koor 2014, organised by his non-profit ZaterdagZondag.
“Half of the participants have never sung in a choir before,” he says about the initiative that started off as an experiment, but has become a staple of the summer season. “The power of a choir is that the members lift each other to a higher level. Participants who have never sung harmonies before are guided by their neighbours, allowing them to keep on key.”
In the beginning, Primusz only worked with choir members between the ages of 15 and 30, but now he welcomes people of all ages, dividing them into three groups (15-30, 31-50 and 50+). This creates a special dynamic in the choirs, says Primusz.
“I don’t mind that I always have to work with new people,” he continues. “On the contrary, it’s great fun to see each group developing its own identity and charm.”
A professional spin
Accompanying the choir are professional guest vocalists Frank Vander linden, lead singer of renowned Dutch-language pop trio De Mens, Antwerp DJ Merdan Taplak and the Ghent indie rock duo Too Tangled. The choir also includes Flemish singer-songwriter Mira, who was the first professional artist to join.
Of course, the appeal of the guest vocalists is a major reason for some of the participants to join the workshops. “For some, being on stage with one of their heroes is certainly a plus,” confirms Primusz. For me it’s interesting because every artist brings his or her own audience. Others don’t care about the guests and sign up before we even announce their names.”
The choice of the songs is made by both Primusz, who writes new arrangements, and the artists. “Hans definitely wanted my solo song ‘In De Walszaal’ on the set list,” says Vander linden, who will only rehearse with the pop-up choir one day before the live show.
“The tracks from De Mens will sound different, in any case, because a choir does not have a bassist or a drummer,” explains Primusz. “Adding an arrangement for this solo track was just another challenge.”
This autumn, Primusz will be touring Belgium and the Netherlands with Kintsukuroi: Een Gedanste Opera (Kintsukuroi: A Danced Opera), a production by the Dutch singer-songwriter Spinvis, and De soldaat-facteur en Rachel (The Soldier-Postman and Rachel), the new theatre piece by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, the famed duo who created the stage play The Broken Circle Breakdown. For De soldaat, Primusz wrote choir arrangements and composed a pool of 150 pop-up choir singers, of whom 40 will join the actors on stage each day.
Merdan Taplak & Too Tangled in Koor (15-30, 50+), 23 August, 20.00 at deSingel, Desguinlei 25, Antwerp
Frank Vander linden in Koor (31-50), 30 August, 20.00 at Cultuurpunt Altena, Antwerpsesteenweg 79, Kontich
Photo by Jasper Léonard