Jürgen Partaj was born in Vienna into a family of music enthusiasts and came into early contact with the Austrian choral and music scene. Initially, he was active purely in the field of classical music in solo Violin but his concert activity gradually shifted towards crossover. He had the opportunity to work with outstanding musicians such as Glen Hansard, Elina Garanca, Annette Dasch and Julian Rachlin, and with choral conductors such as Erwin Ortner, Robert Page and Simon Carrington. Jürgen Partaj graduated in law with a focus on arts law and founded a music agency in 2000 that specialized in international orchestral and choral tour management and founded the “Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival” in 2007 together with the Association Via Musica – a festival for youth choirs and youth orchestras from all over the world. As intendant and artistic director till 2017, he annually created over 200 music events in Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria. With the establishment and the artistic direction of the youth choir “Neue Wiener Stimmen” in 2010 Jürgen Partaj was able to make a lasting impression in his hometown. Despite its short existence, the Neue Wiener Stimmen was elected as “Choir of the Year 2016” by the Chorforum Wien. Jürgen Partaj was nominated for cultural manager of the year in the German-speaking countries in 2013. He works with the Austrian Composers Society and teaches at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.
Since 2019 Jürgen Partaj is Permanent Chairman of the Jury of the three Florence Music Festivals. In November 2019 Jürgen Partaj became the Director of the “Wiener Hofmusikkapelle“ (Vienna Imperial Court Music Ensemble) – a music institution since 1498 which now consists of the Vienna Boys Choir, members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera men’s choir, the Choralschola, renowned organists and conductors.
Marek Valášek graduated from the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in conducting. At the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague he specialized in music education and choral conducting. At the Týn School in Prague he studied church choir direction. During his studies he started conducting in the Municipal Theatre in Ústí nad Labem and between 2002 and 2006 he also worked as a choirmaster at the Prague State Opera where, in addition to his regular choirmaster job, he conducted Leoncavallo’s opera La Bohéme. Since autumn 2015, he returned to the choirmaster’s position at the State Opera again.
At the Young Stage Festival 2002, he was awarded the 1st prize in the conductors’ competition for the concert with the Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra. Within the frame of the Prague Spring music festival 2005, he carried out the Czech premiere of the full-length oratorio Ecce Homo by Jan Hanuš; in November 2005 he recorded Hanuš’s 1st symphony with the Czech Radio Symphonic Orchestra. In 2006, he was a guest conductor in Vilnius, Lithuania, and in Kyoto, Japan. He regularly works with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Hradec Králové and is often invited to lead choirmastering courses and to chair choral competition juries. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Ferdinand Vach professional prize by the Czech Music Foundation and the Association of Choral Conductors of the Music Scholars and Performers Association.
Marek Valášek is the principal organist of the Capuchin order in Hradčany, Prague; he teaches at the Prague Conservatory (department of music theory) and also conducts all the conservatory choirs. Since 2002, he has been teaching at the Department of Music Education of the Charles University in Prague and he has worked as the head of the Choral conducting Department since 2011.
Christian Bährens is choral conductor, music teacher and composer in his hometown Berlin where he studied Music and English at university. He was member of conducting masterclasses with Heinz Hennig and Laszlo Heltay. For his music-making the ideas and principles of Leonard Bernstein and Sergiu Celibidache have also been a great inspiration for many years.
He conducts four choirs in Berlin: the Wilmersdorfer Kammerchor, the vocal ensemble Cantico Nuovo, Matthäuskantorei and one of four school choirs at Beethoven Gymnasium in the south of Berlin. Recent choral concerts included Henry Purcell’s Dido&Aeneas, Bach’s St. John Passion and Mozart’s Requiem.
Since 1989 Christian Bährens has become a specialist for physioacoustic voice-training which has played an essential part in his work with his choirs for many years. Singing plays an important part in his teaching work. He also works with individuals and holds workhops for different institutions in Berlin and outside.
In 2011 he was promoted Doctor of Music by Bydgoszcz University in Poland and has since then been invited several times as lecturer for choral music, conducting and voice training by Poznan Music Academy and Bydgoszcz University.
In 2017 he started to compose more frequently and his choral music is published in Norway and Germany. Several of his pieces were premiered by distinguished ensemble such as EMBLA from Trondheim (Missa Brevis and Magnificat) and BALTA from Riga (O nata lux)
Jaroslav Brych – Artistic Director
Jaroslav Brych served as the chief conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir between 1996 and 2004. His journey to this prestigious post began in Pardubice where, in addition to studying the French horn at the local academy of music, he devoted himself to conducting a children’s choir. He continued his musical studies at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts with a focus on orchestral conducting; he was a student of Václav Neumann as well as Josef Veselka, his famous predecessor at the head of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. Jaroslav Brych also attended many of the master courses led by Helmuth Rilling in Stuttgart.
From 1984 to 1997 he functioned as the choirmaster of the Charles University Choral Ensemble, from 1987 to 1994 he was the Chief Conductor of the Czech Army Symphony Orchestra, and from 1992 to 1993 he conducted the Opera Mozart Company in Prague. He was appointed the second choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir in 1994, served as its principal choirmaster in the years 1996–2005, and then conducted the Prague Chamber Choir from 2006 to 2012.
Jaroslav Brych currently heads the Foerster Chamber Choral Association; he works with the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the Kühn Choir of Prague, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and other Czech orchestras. In addition to his orchestral and choral conducting commitments, he teaches at the Prague Academy of Music, the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague and the Pardubice Conservatoire.