Siparantum Choir – The Journey of a Young Choir to a Big Stage
Promoting the rich culture and music of Kosovo in the world
Founded in 2017, Siparantum Choir is a young choir from a young country that is already climbing successful stages and winning trophies at prestigious international choir competitions.
The choir’s home country, Kosovo, is Europe’s youngest country, both in terms of history and demographics, with a declaration of independence dating back to only 2008.
Siparantum was brought together by their current conductor, Mr. Memli Kelmendi and a group of volunteers with the same dream and commitment: promote the rich culture and music of Kosovo all over the world. They would do this by including singers of different generations from all over Kosovo, from the pupils and students who loved art and choral singing to people and singers who had contributed to the country’s cultural movements back in the 80s. In less than two months, the choir managed to bring together about 50 members, followed soon afterwards by a Chamber Orchestra and a children’s choir called “Siparantum Kids”.
Since the onset, Siparantum Choir has made over 85 appearances, 28 international, including some of the most prestigious choral festivals all over Europe successfully performing works of world-famous composers, from the Renaissance to contemporary music.
The choir didn’t stop singing even during the covid-19 pandemic, but instead joined INTERKULTUR’s Video Awards, the European Music Festival for Young People, “The Golden Lime Of Tuhelj” International Choir Competition where they received the Golden Plate, and also the World Choir Games in Flanders, where the choir won the category of Musica Contemporanea and was awarded a Gold Diploma, an extraordinary success.
The choir’s participation at the World Choir Games bears special significance because it was not only the choir’s first time to join the competition, but it was also the first time Kosovo was represented with a choir in the event’s 20 years of history. Conductor Memli Kelmendi, who is also a member of the World Choir Council, commented at the time: “We are all highly motivated to participate here. You will only see the happiest faces on each one of us, because this is the largest international choir competition in the world, and we couldn’t wait to be here representing our country, finally.”
Other important projects of the choir include their collaboration with the world-famous tenor Ramë Lahaj, a special collaboration with Tackroom Theater in the realization of the song “World On Our Shoulders” #Resolution2020, the publication of two CDs of choral works on the International Choir Contest Flanders, Belgium, and, most recently, being part of the “Our Voice For Our Planet” project.
The choir’s current plans are preparing for the first publication of the “Siparantum Kids” children’s choir CD, which is expected to come out in 2022, and many upcoming participations in international choral festivals.
We approached Mr. Kelmendi with some questions to learn more about his choir.
If you could choose one performance of your choir so far that best represents them, which one would it be?
"Undoubtedly, one of our best performances is Siparantum Choir's participation in the World Choir Games in The Open Competition in the "Musica Contemporanea" category at Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp. It was a special performance because it was a different feeling from the other times. It was the first time a choir from Kosovo appeared for the first time in the biggest choral competition in the world, so for us this was an indescribable emotion. The most emotional moment for all of us was when we took the first place in that category at the World Choir Games. Tears of joy that will never be forgotten."
What is success for you as a conductor? As a choir member?
"I am very happy that we have managed to gather so many people of good will who work with great commitment on a voluntary basis to promote our culture in the world. Although it has been only 5 years since the founding of Siparantum Choir, we managed to participate in various international festivals and competitions that have greatly influenced our professional advancement. Our next success is Siparantum Choir's participation in the Choral Collaborations at the Berlin Philharmonie, a major success for my country's choral music."
What is one piece of advice about choir discipline that has worked with you?
"I can freely say that it is an honor for each choir member, all 50 of them, to voluntarily do this work for our country. The choir members work with great dedication and are aware of the importance of the work we do. Today we are a big family. Work, dedication, love of music and discipline is a result of all our achievements."
How do you shape and create a coherent and vibrant concert program?
"It all depends on where we are going to perform, be it an activity, festival or competition. Competition festivals usually set their own rules so we have to adapt to them. We consider this a positive and tempting thing because it makes us learn from choral repertoires that we may not have worked on before. At other times I usually prefer diverse programming, different styles of choral music. I like choral works that have elements of contemporary music. I usually add elements of choreography to them, which give more meaning to the music. I love music that reaches the audience ... and brings them closer to the stage."
Who or what is your greatest inspiration in life?
"The environment, nature, positive people and collaboration with different choirs of the world, getting to know the cultures of different countries give meaning to my life."
What is the most touching story to tell from your choral life?
"The most difficult moment for all of us was when the President of Siparantum Choir, Mr. Fatmir Bajraktari got infected with COVID-19, and unfortunately lost his battle! This was very difficult for us to bear, as the Choir lost their most beloved man! But, life must go on and we have to continue our mission. On July 10 we held our first concert after a two-year break caused by COVID-19. It was an incredibly emotional moment, and it felt like we finally came back to life. With this, I’d like to share an interesting moment: In December 2019 we became part of the project call for Climate Change and we performed the song "World On Our Shoulders" and, part of the song was sang by our late Siparantum Choir President, Mr. Fatmir Bajraktari. After he passed away, I decided to bring this song back on stage at the concert of July 10, the first one after a two-year pandemic break. During the rehearsals, for the part where Mr. Fatmir sang, I told the choir: “Nobody should sing during this part. There must be silence here. Please do not sing!” But, I had something else in mind. I set up a loudspeaker near the audience and, when it was the moment for him to sing, I put on his recorded voice. Nobody knew that this was coming, not even the choir, no one! I must say that this was the most emotional moment of the concert, there were tears in people’s eyes. What I wanted to convey, was that he (Fatmir) is still with us!"
What is one thing that you’ve learnt as part of a choir that you think you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?
"There are varieties of assembles, programs and different styles of choral singing in the world...but what has taught me the most is the teamwork and harmony within the choir."
Stay tuned to our newsroom for more interesting choir stories.
Choir: Siparantum Choir
Conductor: Memli Kelmendi
Repertoire: Renaissance to Contemporary Music
- Category Winner of Musica Contemporanea in the World Choir Games Flanders 2021 (Golden Diploma) – Flanders, Belgium
- Winners of the “Golden Plate” in the 12th International Choir Competition “Golden Tuhel Lime” - Croatia
- “Honorable Mention” at the“International Choir Contest Flanders 2019” – Genk, Belgium