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Testimonials about the Madrigal Choir

Friday, 5 April 2013 , ora 8.04

'The Madrigal has exceeded its condition of famous ensemble! I thought that certain sounds belonged to another dimension… Could it be that maestro Marin Constantin found the recipe that open the universe of the fourth dimension?'

This is what pianist Cella Delavrancea says about the iconic choir that Romania has had for so many decades and whose esteem lingers on.

On 11th April, 2013, we are celebrating 50 years since the 'Madrigal' National Chamber Choir was founded.

I will only mention a few of the European awards and titles that have rewarded the high professionalism of the Madrigal: the German Record Critics' Award in 1971, 'Il Saggitario d'Oro' - Italy, 1976, Honor Award and the 'Grand Duke Adolf' Prize - Luxembourg, 1979 and 'Premium Magnum' of the Mihail Jora Foundation in 1993.

The repertoire chosen by Marin Constantin as mentor of the National Chamber Choir 'Madrigal' is just as impressive.

They have a very large repertoire, consisting of works from the Renaissance and Byzantine periods, as well as Romanian and universal contemporary works performed for the first time, which they have presented in over 4000 concerts all over the world.

It is admirable that Marin Constantin wrapped up his conducting experience in a great book called 'The Art of Choral Construction and Performance', where he revealed a few of the technical and artistic secrets of conducting a chamber choir, and which awarded him the title of 'Doctor Honoris Causa' of the 'Gheorghe Dima' University of Music in Cluj-Napoca.

If you listen to the Romanian Musical Universe show from Tuesday until Friday, between 9th and 12th April, 2013, you will be able to enjoy the power of the Madrigal choir that enchants us or… as André Jolivet used to say, 'takes us to the dreamland of beauty and joy.'

Laura Ana Mânzat

Voicu Popescu - the current conductor of the Madrigal Choir

The 'Madrigal' National Chamber Choir has been, for me and for many other musicians of my generation, the most important landmark in our professional evolution. I can say that we have witnessed the birth and rise of the Madrigal to style and repertoire standards that have never been reached before, thanks to the man who would later become a national and international celebrity, conductor Marin Constantin.

The Madrigal brought new elements such as: the chamber formula, a new sound, the conducting technique that would later be called 'psychotechnique', Elizabethan costumes, the multi-stereophonic layout and a high interpretive responsibility, assumed in all the areas of the repertoire (Renaissance, Byzantine, classical and contemporary music).

Fifty years from its founding, the Madrigal has a very young ensemble, as they have lost, for natural causes, the experience of extraordinary musicians that had been educated at the interpretive school of maestro Marin Constantin. I believe that the level of musical training of the current members as well as their enthusiasm, are trustworthy elements as far as the choir's future is concerned.

In this jubilee year, the ensemble has a packed agenda. The festivities celebrating the half-centenary will begin with a series of Easter concerts - the Light of Resurrection, Lumina Învierii, at the Athenaeum in Bucharest starting on 21st April, 2013 when they will wear their new costumes for the first time, designed by Doina Levintza. Next, six other concerts will follow, in important cities of Moldavia. In May 2013 they will attend the 'Ionel Perlea' Festival in Slobozia, with a programme dedicated exclusively to Paul Constantinescu. As they have a contemporary repertoire, the audience will enjoy listening to the important Romanian choral works that they will interpret at the concert at the Radio Hall on 25th May, 2013, within the International New Music Week. The programme will feature works by Sigismund Toduță, Miriam Marbe, Corneliu Cezar, Cornelia Tăutu and Sabin Păutza, conducted by two musicians who have left a mark on the history of the Madrigal: Veronica Bojescu and Sabin Păutza, both of whom celebrate 50 years of musical career. This year's edition of the 'George Enescu' International Festival will also show the European Renaissance Mass project, which will alternate Byzantine melos of various areas and polyphonic episodes from some of the most important masses written by pre- and post-Renaissance composers: G. Machault, J. des Prez, G. P. da Palestrina, W. Byrd and T. L. da Vittoria. The synthesis of the two musical worlds is made by one of Dan Dediu's compositions.

To me and the managing team of the 'Madrigal' National Chamber Choir, manager, Vera Maria Stoica and second conductor, Anna Ungureanu, the great challenge remains to ensure the continuity of the interpretive and reportorial representative works that have established the ensemble and to bring new elements, required by a market that keeps developing and having ever more varied demands…

Musicologist Grigore Constantinescu

Ever since its founding in 1963, as part of the Bucharest Conservatory in , the 'Madrigal' National Chamber Choir created and led by Marin Constantin, has become famous at home and abroad, with 4000 concerts all over the world, at important festivals and cultural events. Throughout its history, the choir has been awarded the UNICEF Medal, The German Record Critics' Award, Il Saggitario d'Oro, Medaille en Vermeil, the 'Grand Duke Adolf' Prize, Premium Magnum of the Music Critics' Association and the Diploma of Honour awarded by the Union of Romanian Composers and Musicologists, the Diploma of Honour awarded by the American Biographical Institute, the Excellence Prize of the Romanian Musical Forum and the 'Mihail Jora' Union of Music Critics and entered the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The 'Madrigal' Chamber Choir and its very gifted leader, have fulfilled the responsibilities of true musicians since the very first day until their 50th anniversary. In hard times, it brought old Orthodox liturgies to people, offering a new life to scores that had been kept in documents and manuscripts of centuries past. At the same time, by observing our customs, the members of the Madrigal have chiseled wonderfully the lovely sound of Christmas carols, which have encouraged us to live through hard and fearful times over the past half-century. Thus, we remember how we sang carols before the Revolution, when we had to cope with fear and apprehension. But we also feel a special connection to the moments before Communism, because these carols, performed by singers with angel-like voices, have returned for the first time for the listeners attending the memorable concerts at the Romanian Athenaeum, and they went abroad, as well, as a meek expression of our nation's faith, with the first record featuring such songs, recorded against all obstacles, by the Madrigal Choir with God's blessing. Marin Constantin and the members of the choir have accomplished the mission their talent has given them, and they showed us the way - as George Enescu once said - to 'appease hatred and unite hearts.'

The being that blends the spirit and art, which light up our lives by serving the beauty ideals with blessed love, is a model of happy existence. As the conductor Horia Andreescu said: 'The Madrigal was a real phenomenon when it was founded, then it became a certainty, and a great valuable ensemble throughout these years. Artistic value, an ideal ensemble, a model… a great accomplishment for the musicians on stage, and, finally, the joy and pride for us all,' for the voices of Romania and I would add: that resonate across the world.

Liliana Pispiris, honorary member of the Madrigal choir and a radio journalist

In the natural order of the jubilee's life, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Madrigal choir will miss maestro Marin Constantin. There was so much communion between the musician and the living instrument he had created… there have been so many echoes of the 'Madrigal-Marin Constantin' in time, resonating in listeners' hearts, there still are so many of them now that the maestro is looking at us from above, and the Madrigal goes on and on, proving it is on the right track.

I am very happy and I feel great professional fulfillment because I had the chance to be born in the family of maestro Marin Constantin and to be part of the 'Madrigal miracle' for around 45 years - this ensemble has broken known artistic barriers, aiming high and then imposing a competitive sense of professionalism which could hardly be paralleled.

I have so many memories… I can see his gestures when he was conducting, his mimic and particularly the maestro's eyes, extremely suggestive and captivating; I relive the vibe of hundreds of rehearsals - many of which were exhausting - and I like to remember the unique sound of well-deserved applauses at the end of the concert, as well as our happy smiles (on tired faces), like a mask that used to hide our artistic efforts and our perspiration underneath our antique costumes.

As I was in Marin Constantin's family, I grew up with the Madrigal… it is as if I had a 'Madrigal gene', otherwise rather resistant, considering I was a fill-in for the maestro as artistic director, between 2008 and 2010, when he was feeling frail and the ensemble saw the beginning of the syndicate movement. Now I am an artistic advisor and the Madrigal gene in me is contributing to the efforts made by the new team, for the ensemble to go on and have a future in the Romanian cultural elite.

I have to confess I have quite a few memories as a member of the Madrigal and a granddaughter. I am grateful to maestro Marin Constantin for not receiving preferential treatment at the Madrigal; I have learned a lot, I have shaped myself artistically and enriched my spirit. The only special thing he used to say was after the Revolution, when he used to call me 'our Liliana', so as to distinguish me from a colleague with the same name. The sound of this name - so long-awaited instinctively - was sweeter than honey for me… and I can still hear it in my auditory memory.

His exigence, his professional tenacity and emotion were what best distinguished Marin Constantin, the artist.

Dan Mihai Goia, conductor of the Radio Academic Choir

I've always seen Marin Constantin's Madrigal choir as a real school of artistic beauty and truth…

On this anniversary, when this wonderful choir celebrates 50 years of existence, I wish to say, and I am proud to do so, that for half of this span of time I was a member of the Madrigal…

I have developed in this Purgatory of true artistic experience, I have learned and lived extraordinary artistic moments, which have influenced and defined both my personal and professional life for good...

Marin Constantin's Madrigal choir has endowed me with artistic expression, as well as accomplishments and great joy for my heart and mind, hard to put into words; it was there that I fully asserted my destiny of being in a choir and of being an ambitious and tenacious toiler in the world of conducting a choir…

Along with my dear, former colleagues and friends - the members of the Madrigal - I have discovered team spirit, a real sense of friendship and artistic unity, under the strict, firm, confident, yet fatherly command of maestro Marin Constantin. He taught me what it meant to continually and consistently take the road to the Absolute Artistic Truth, to seek it and to reach it now and then, to go into the ineffable area of complete Beauty of sound and art…

I had the joy to train the Madrigal choir in rehearsals over several years, to conduct the choir in concerts, and every time I was overwhelmed with emotion and responsibility…

It is my heart's desire that the spirit of the Madrigal choir shall forever hold tenacious and consistent the artistic ambition, team spirit, unreluctant, unlimited and unyielding dedication, without any reserve, as these are the qualities that can create beauty in music and on stage…

I wish the choir would make no compromise and would keep refining their voices , I wish they would reach the deep meaning of the works they sing , the state of perpetual artistic suspense, as maestro Marin Constantin used to instill these qualities in the members of the ensemble he created for the good of Artistic Truth…

Now I cannot help but be happy for the Madrigal and bow before it and the lamented maestro Marin Constantin, for all that they have meant, they mean and they will mean to me, but mostly to all of us who have lived with his jewel of a choir - the Madrigal - which was a good example to all lovers of choir music. It has made history in the art of Romanian music…

'Happy anniversary, Madrigal choir!!!', creation of maestro Marin Constantin, symbol of perfect art, of purity of sound, of artistic emotion…

Sorina Goia, radio journalist and musicologist

With the Madrigal choir, Marin Constantin brought the Romanian choral tradition to the foreground. 'A good farmer makes a good farm' - as the saying goes. Marin Constantin made a good farm of an instrument - the Madrigal Choir, with which he created a new school of canto (with that pure, non-vibrato sound), propelling it into the world's circuit. He imposed high standards of singing, with large and manifold repertoires: Renaissance madrigals, Byzantine monodies, trouvères' poems with accompaniment, massive Baroque oratorios, old Romanian carols and experimental sounds.

Writing for the Madrigal was a personal ambition; having your songs sung - a dream come true. In five decades since its founding, the Madrigal has shaped dozens of artistic destinies. In the 17 years that I have spent working there, I have learned discipline, complete dedication and the pleasure to make music. Maestro Marin Constantin taught me that an artist has the duty to remain displeased, even in their most satisfactory moments. That spark of unfullfilment is the only way to look for new horizons in your art.

Translated by Irina Borțoi and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University