Posted on June 25, 2012 by Christopher Thrall

It has long been Dr. Ardelle Ries’ dream to take the Augustana Choir to Hungary—a country renowned for excellence in the realm of music education.

Dr. Ardelle Reis leads the rehearsal at Kecsekemet

Plans and preparations for a Hungarian study and performance tour began over three years ago.

It has long been Dr. Ardelle Ries’ dream to take the Augustana Choir to Hungary—a country renowned for excellence in the realm of music education. This dream has come true thanks to the remarkable support of the Augustana Faculty, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Battle River Community Foundation, Pro Coro Canada, the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus, and numerous donors to our cause.

As plans were falling into place over the last three years, I had hoped that my long-time Hungarian-Canadian friend, Kalman Kovacs, would assist us with Hungarian pronunciation, musical and travel preparations; however, Kalman was sadly taken from us in late September. His memory lives on through generous support for our study and performance tour.

Formal rehearsal at Debrecen

The Augustana Choir had the opportunity to introduce Hungarian choral music educators to the rich bounty of Canadian choral music while at the same time learn about the important Hungarian contribution made to contemporary choral music education. The Augustana Choir received invitations from the Györ University Philharmonic Choir, the Kecskemét Cantus Nobilis Choir, the University of Debrecen, and the internationally renowned Cantemus Choral Institute to perform representative works of representative Canadian and Hungarian composers.

In celebration of the 130th anniversary of renowned Hungarian composer, philosopher, linguist, and music educator, Zoltán Kodály, the Augustana Choir performed one of Kodály’s most beautiful works—the Pange Lingua, for organ and mixed choir—in Zoltán Kodály’s birthplace, Kecskemét, accompanied by an award-winning Hungarian organist, Dániel Sárosi.

In addition to performances in the Hungarian cities of Györ, Debrecen, and Níregyháza, the Augustana Choir concluded the study and performance tour with a concert in the spectacular cathedral of St. Stephen’s in Budapest. This study and performance tour to Hungary serves as a portal for potential partnership and collaboration between the University of Alberta, the Augustana Faculty, and the Kodály Pedagogical Institute of the Liszt Academy.

Sincere thanks is extended to everyone in the Augustana Faculty—Dr. Allen Berger, Professor Keith Harder, Financial Services, Valerie Bailey, Amy Wilhelm and the Learning and Beyond Office, Mark Chytracek, Angela Chappell, who have assisted to make this study and performance tour possible.

Quotes and thanks:

Cantemus Choral Institute
We are very glad that you and the choir enjoyed your stay and the concert here in Nyíregyháza. It was an absolute pleasure for us to have all of you. We have had very positive feedback from the audience who really enjoyed your concert. Thank you for the high standard singing you brought to us into our concert hall. We were very taken by the standard of your choir showing professionalism both in the music performed and the attitude towards it. Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

We sincerely hope that we will have opportunities to meet you and your choir again in the future.

All the best,
Dénes and Ágnes Szaba, Marianna, and all the Cantemus team

Kecskemét Kodály School
I don’t know why but the Bartók Four Slovak Songs still ring in my ear. There were others that I liked very much … of course, I probably know this one the most, this may be the reason. But also, it was so beautifully done!

The whole concert was mesmerizing. I hope the rest of the tour has gone as well as the Kecskemét concert. We were all thrilled, everybody I talked to (in addition to the letter-writers) loved it.

All the best to both of you and greetings to your wonderful choir members,
Kata Ittzes, Director of the Music in English Program

Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music
Congratulations to your memorable concert in Budapest! I am so pleased to listen to the high standard performance of a demanding program.

Judit Hartyanyi, Professor of Conducting

University of Debrecen
I am so happy to hear about your yesterday’s concert and the high quality of your Choir! You know, Hungary is a small country and some of my friends called me with the news about a Canadian choir in Győr.  So, I congratulate you on your excellent work and the outstanding organization of your trip!

Márta Sárosi, Department Head of Theory and Solfege


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