MDR Leipzig Radio Children's Choir (biography in English)
The MDR Leipzig Radio Children's Choir is the only children's choir within the German Broadcasting Corporation and has influenced the musical life of its hometown for many years.
Based in the heart of central Germany, the MDR Leipzig Children's Choir is the only ensemble of its kind within the German Broadcasting Corporation (ARD) – with an unbroken tradition spanning almost 75 years. The choir now offers a musical home to around 180 young singers. Rehearsals take place at MDR's Augustusplatz location in Leipzig, and during their time in the children's choir the various age-groups receive extensive vocal and choral training as well as acquiring a repertoire ranging from Gregorian chant to jazz.
As well as regularly rehearsing in different subsections according to age and proficiency, the musical education offered by the choir also comprises vocal training and music theory. The children can be as young as three when admitted to the pre-choir, continuing with the concert-choir right through until they finish school, also enabling boys to stay in the choir after their voices have broken.
The choir's varied repertoire includes not only children's songs, demanding a cappella literature but also works from the choral symphonic repertoire (Bizet's Carmen in 2017, Terry Riley's In C in 2017, Orff's Carmina Burana in 2019, Bernstein's Kaddish in 2022 and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream 2023). Musical premieres and crossover projects such as "Kinder der Freiheit" with Polarkreis 18 or joint appearances with the Puhdys' Dieter "Maschine" Birr or Peter Maffay are part of the choir's broad palette as well as regular productions for MDR radio and television, most recently in the productions Beutolomäus und die vierte Elfe and Schloss Einstein.
The MDR Leipzig Children's Choir regularly performs in concerts all over central Germany, be it during the MDR concert season or as part of the MDR-Musiksommer. Among most recent CD recordings are Josef Achtélik's musical fairy-tale play Peterchens Mondfahrt and Hans Sandig's Besuch im Zoo as well as Engelbert Humperdinck's Bübchens Weihnachtstraum.
Founded by Hans Sandig in 1948 the MDR Leipzig Radio Children's Choir celebrated its 75th birthday with a special gala concert in the spring of 2023. Having successfully led the choir from 1990 to 2011 Gunter Berger passed on the baton to Ulrich Kaiser who was responsible for the ensemble for six years. In January 2018 Alexander Schmitt became the choir's artistic director, bringing fresh ideas to the ensemble's work. International concert tours have taken the young singers to Switzerland, the USA, Australia, Poland, Qatar and most recently the Czech Republic for concerts, school projects and workshops. In October 2023, the choir travels to Budapest for a concert with the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir. Two awards from the International Choir Competition in Verona serve as impressive testimony to the quality of the musical training provided by MDR.
Every person is entitled to music of quality and variety. The region served by MDR posesses an excellent musical tradition for children in which one can take pride and which I want to retain in the public's consciousness and to rediscover. At the same time it is my ambition to demonstrate by means of new works and innovative artistic ideas how exciting and topical choral music performed by children for children can be.