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October 18, 2004

The Age (Australia)

With a repertoire that extends from William Byrd to Billy Joel, Leipzig's Ensemble Amarcord, in town for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, is one of the world's leading a cappella groups. Theirs is a unique background: all five members were choristers in the St Thomas Church Boys' Choir in Leipzig, a centuries-old institution where J.S. Bach was cantor from 1723 until his death in 1750.

"I think it was just the joy of singing," says ensemble amarcord baritone Frank Ozimek of their decision to form the group in 1992. "I just wanted to keep singing - anything - after I left St Thomas and it was great to sing in a smaller group rather than a choir. I liked the clarity." "Our background is unique, certainly," says Lattke, "but people say that it's our sound, blending and interpretation that is special. There's a lot of vocal groups in Britain - that's where the best ones come from - and they have another style of singing.

"We have Romantic singing in Germany, whereas they have the choir tradition from the Middle Ages and Renaissance times, and it's developed in a different way. The English sound is clearer, the structure is more divided, whereas people say ours is warmer, more homogenous."

Amarcord has been able to draw on two very different British vocal groups to help shape their own style, which they say is still developing. "The Hilliard Ensemble, for example, are very precise and they got us to really listen to one another and react to musical ideas in the concerts," says Lattke. "From the King Singers we got a lot of sound and blending things, mostly of the pop arrangements, of modern music and presentation on stage."

The ensemble's name comes from Fellini's autobiographical movie Amarcord about his time in his home town of Rimini. "Amarcord means 'I remember' in Fellini's native dialect," says Lattke. "Apart from other associations in the name, like 'chord' and so on, it's a reference to our time together in the St Thomas Boys' Choir, and other influences in our lives," he says.

Posted by acapnews at October 18, 2004 11:01 PM