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Kärntner Madrigalchor Klagenfurt (Choir)

Founded: October 1948 - Klagenfurt, Austria

In October 1948 Günther Mittergradnegger (1923-1992) created the Madrigalchor Klagenfurt (= MCK): some young teachers and few students of the Lehrerbildungsanstalt in Klagenfurt who were already members of the very successful Kärntner Lehrerquintett formed a choir together. Mittergradnegger goal was to establish the young ensemble fast in the choir environment of Kärnten and Austria. The MCK became a guideline for young choirs in the country and a model for the interpretation of madrigals and motets. Soon it undertook expanded choir tours (e.g. 1951 Italy, 1953 Wales, 1964 Finland, 1972 Soviet Union, 1973 South America) and achieves several prizes with competitions, e.g. 1954 in Arezzo (1st Prize) and 1966 in Middlesborough, England (1st Prize. Mixed choir, 1st Prize: Mixed chamber choir, 2nd Prize: Woman choir). In 1974 the MCK received the big culture prize of the country Kärnten. Since 1989 the Madrigalchor also leads the Kärntner Landeswappen.

After 50 years of existence the MCK is still a very efficient amateur ensemble, whose members are predominant teachers and professors of the most diverse fields, in addition, other occupations such as official employees, engineers, housewives, students, are represented. The repertoire of the choir extends from the Gregorian Chant to the music of the 20th Century. Contemporary compositions were already entrusted several times to the MCK for premiere. A special strength of the ensemble lies in the representation and interpretation of the choir works, which are always selected carefully according to their compositional content and melodic substance. Many big names from music history are represented as well in the a-cappela list of works of the MCK, from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina through J.S. Bach, Haydn and Mozart to Bruckner, Debussy, Hauer and Orff.

But already Günther Mittergradnegger began to perform with the choir big choral-orchestral works. This was still substantially intensified in 1974 with the appointment of Nikolaus Fheodoroff, the present musical leader of the choir, and soon the passion concerts of the Madrigalchor could no more be excluded from the domestic music life. Some composers with their works should be mentioned: J.S. Bach (Johannes-Passion (BWV 245), Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), Mass in B minor (BWV 232), Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248)), George Frideric Handel (Israel in Ägypten, Das Alexanderfest, Dixit Dominus, Der Messias), W.A. Mozart (Requiem), F. Schubert (Messe in Es-Dur), G. Rossini (Petite Messe Solennelle), Arthur Honegger (Jeanne d’Arce - in staged performance at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt 1985), Igor Stravinsky (Psalmensymphonie), F. Martin (Golgotha, Requiem), Karel Husa (An American Tedeum - in der European 1st performance 1992), C. Orff (Carmina Burana), Günther Mittergradnegger (Millstätter Passion), Hans-Jörg Scherr (Der letzte Tag Jesu), Wolfram Wagner (Wenn der Teufel tanzt - premiere of the opera at the Carinthischen Sommers, 1996), etc.

The MCK gladly performs fastidious measuring compositions in the context of services - a-cappella or with organ or orchestra - e.g. G.P. da Palestrina (Missa Papae Marcelli), W.A. Mozart (Missa Brevis in G, KV 49), Franz Xaver Brixi (Missa integra), A. Bruckner (Messe in e-Moll), Gottfried von Einem (Missa claravalensis), Anton Heiller (Vesper), F. Martin (Doppelchörige Messe), Nikolaus Fheodoroff (Missa septuaginta, Gurker Festmesse, Missa Madrigalensis). Finally the care of the genuine folk-music is an important component of the choir work. Naturally, from the beginning the Kärntner Lieder played an important role, and the choir has one of the most important collections of Kärntner Lieder. However the repertoire of the choir includes many folk-songs from all world as well, in particular from those countries, in which the MCK visited in its tours. All the songs are sung by the MCK in their original language.

In the years under the artistic direction of Nikolaus Fheodoroff the choir, which already carried the name Kärntner Madrigalchor Klagenfurt for some years, undertook numerous concert tours, all over Austria and abroad (Europe, Mexico, South Africa, the USA) and achieved great success. The results of the choir participation in the international competition is 1991 in Roodeport (Eisteddfod of South Africa) should be mentioned: twice 1st Prize (mixed choir, woman choir), 2nd Prize (church choir), 3rd Prize (folk-song choir). Not least this great success witnesses also from the versatility of the choir. In addition the Kärntner MCK participated in the 50 years of its existence in many radio and TV productions, many of its concerts were broadcasted by the ORF. Naturally the MCK began already very early to produce audio recordings.

Since autumn 1998 the Kärntner MCK stands under the artistic direction of Klaus Kuchling. In this short time of co-operation important works were already performed, such as Missa Brevis by Zoltán Kodály and Johannespassion by H. Schütz. In the summer of 1999 the MCK performed together with John Surman (saxophone) his evening-filling work Proverbs and Songs at the Dom in Klagenfurt. At the organ was Howard Moody and the direction was in the hands of Klaus Kuchling. Their performance of Vesper, op. 47 by Thomas Daniel Schlee at the Dom in Gurk received great attention in the press. To the thousands of years change there was the co-operation in the Kongreßhaus Villach with the 9th Symphony by L.v. Beethoven. The passion concert 2000 was differently arranged by the MCK under Klaus Kuchling: at the city church St. Veit an der Glan and at the Dom zu Klagenfurt was half dramatically performed Der Totentanz by Hugo Distler. Much attention was also found in the performance of Oberwarter Messe by Erich Kleinschuster at the Dom in Klagenfurt, and in the summer 2000 the performance of Missa Clara Vallensis by Gottfried von Einem at the Stiftskirche Ossiach in the context of the Carinthischen Sommers.

Great conclusion of 2000 were two performances of Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) by J.S. Bach in full length and on original instruments. This connection was particularly emphasised in a very good co-operation with Chor Danica. In 2001 the choir dedicated itself to development of a new a-cappella choir program. This program was performed with big success in Pörtschach, Pordenone, Split, Makarska and Klagenfurt and produced also CD recording. In addition there was a repetition of the performance of Oberwarter Messe by Erich Kleinschuster in May at the Pfarrkirche Krumpendorf. In the context of the Carinthischen Sommers 2001 a Mass of the honour choir leader Nikolaus Fheodoroff was performed - Missa Brevis in C arranged for big choir and organ.

In autumn 2001 and in spring 2002 the PCK performed at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. In the early summer the MCK visited on invitation of the Region Friaul in the cities Grado, Valvasone, Triest, Aquilea, Gorizia and Udine. In the context of the European project "CORI D'EUROPA 2002" the MCK made common choral concerts of sacred songs with the "Gruppo Polifonico Claudio Monteverdi" (an excellent man choir) in the big churches. In the February-March 2003 a carnival concert with compositions of Peter Planyavsky was prepared. These concerts were performed at the Konzerthaus Klagenfurt and in the Spittl/Spittal an der Drau.


Source: Madrigalchor Klagenfurt Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (2005)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Klaus Kuchling


BWV 248

Links to other Sites

Madrigalchor Klagenfurt (Official Website)


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