Interview with Amarcord – part 2

Amarcord was the first professional adult ensemble to come from the choir of St Thomas’ after the fall of the Wall, but they are part of a long tradition of groups born in famous choirs – from the UK’s King’s Singers to Germany’s boy-band Die Prinzen – the latter also former St Thomas’ choristers.

Unlike British university and church choirs, where boys sing until their voices break and the mature voice parts are sung by adults, boys at St Thomas’ sing on through the change of voice, guided by voice teachers and medical specialists, and filling the tenor and bass parts until they leave school at the age of 18. That makes for an even more intense grounding in music – the equivalent, say Amarcord’s members, of two music degrees – so it is not surprising that many graduates go on to study other subjects. Several of Amarcord’s members now hold degrees in non-musical disciplines. Knauft is a qualified medical doctor, tenor Martin Lattke (brother to Wolfram) studied economics, Krause, humanities. The group which they had founded as schoolboys remained a part-time occupation until the year 2000, when they resolved to turn fully professional.

The pivotal moment was a meeting with music manager Tobias Rosenthal, himself a former St Thomas’ chorister. ‘There was no pressure,’ says Knauft. ‘It was like finding another member of the group at the right time.’

With its vast repertoire of unaccompanied vocal music, ranging from early Mediaeval through to cutting-edge contemporary, and its unique blend of precision, warmth and humour, the ensemble won strings of awards, founded its own music festival in Leipzig, and rapidly climbed the international concert circuit rungs to become one of the best-known ambassadors for its home city.

Shirley Apthorp © 2011


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