”Varied experience, superb artistic vision and rehearsal technique, excellent communication skills and compelling plans for the future,” Artistic Director Ville Matvejeff lists the merits of the newly recruited chorus master of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Jan Schweiger, 42, was selected for the position unanimously. Starting in his role immediately, he will steer the choir toward next summer’s festival.
“We will have an inspiring and fulfilling time together, there is no question about that,” Jan Schweiger says. “In my audition I immediately noticed that this chorus isn’t only made of excellent voices but also of singers passionate about opera. This means that besides singing, these people want to tell a story with their entire being. The best opera choruses manage to live the opera on stage and have an even bigger impact on the audience without losing any of their musical excellence. I really feel this strongly and we will make the most of it, together with the fantastic conductors and directors who will be working with us.”
Austrian-born Schweiger, who has studied choral and orchestral conducting, graduated with honours from Mozarteum University Salzburg. He has worked as the choirmaster and conductor of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in Belgium since 2014. Prior to this, his engagements have included conducting the Heidelberg Opera choir and singing in the acclaimed Arnold Schoenberg choir in Vienna. While conducted by Schweiger, the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Chorus was nominated for an International Opera Award in London in the Best Chorus category. Schweiger has also won a young artist’s award in Heidelberg in 2009.
The chorus master is responsible for the artistic and administrative direction of the chorus, as well as ongoing planning and development. The singers are chosen yearly based on auditions. Most of the 80 members are either professional singers or young singing students from Finland and abroad. This gives the choir a particularly vibrant sound.
”It’s an exciting and historic moment for us to start working with a new chorus master, who has built his career at the forefront of European opera. I’m confident that with Schweiger, we can further enhance the high profile and artistic punch of our choir,” says Ville Matvejeff. ”At the audition, we witnessed wonderful chemistry between Schweiger and our choral ensemble.”
Jan Schweiger will succeed Matti Hyökki, who has conducted the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir since 2008. The pioneer of choral music and professor emeritus has led Finland’s premier choirs for the past 50 years. Hyökki’s journey with the choir will culminate in a jubilee concert at Olavinlinna on 24 July 2022.
”During his tenure, Matti has raised the international profile of the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir in several ways. His impressive skills and decades of uniquely broad experience have been tremendously valuable to the entire festival. We are truly grateful to him, and in July we will celebrate this gratitude together in a choral concert,” Ville Matvejeff says.
Jan Schweiger’s contract covers the 2022 and 2023 festivals with an option to continue for 2024 and 2025. Schweiger was chosen from 35 applicants.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival takes place from 1 to 31 July 2022.
For more information, please contact:
Ville Matvejeff, Artistic Director, [email protected]
Johanna Lahtinen, Administrative Assistant, tel. +358 44 074 6068
First-class opera in a Medieval castle
The Savonlinna Opera Festival is Finland’s premiere cultural event. World renowned for its high-quality opera performances and concerts, every summer it brings music lovers from across the globe to the charming lakeside city of Savonlinna. The month-long festival is held in Olavinlinna, a towering medieval castle by Finland’s largest lake. This creates a uniquely dramatic ambiance for its 70 000 visitors. Once inside, festival-goers are dazzled by classics and rarely seen works as well as world premieres and visiting productions from esteemed opera houses like La Scala and the Bolshoi Theatre. operafestival.fi
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