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Interview with Emil Pantelimon, manager of the Madrigal-Marin Constantin Choir

Monday, 5 February 2024 , ora 10.45

Mr. Emil Pantelimon, the Chamber Choir "Madrigal - Marin Constantin" is the winner of the Musicrit Trophy for the year 2023 for its entire activity. What is the significance of this award, which comes in the context of the 6 decades of activity?

It is a very important moment especially because this distinction comes from the Romanian Union of Music Critics, Editors and Producers. When the guild puts you in the spotlight and awards you, it is a great honour and joy for such a body. We are very proud that, at 60 years old, we receive the highest award of the Romanian music critics.

On the one hand, it honours us, on the other hand, it makes us responsible that this 60th anniversary becomes a perpetual moment of activity and performance for the Madrigal Choir. These 60 years represent the continuous second, it is the moment when every minute of our existence ends and begins and, once it has passed so beautifully and sensitively, it can only continue in the same way and Madrigal has the responsibility to continue to be a jewel on the Romanian and international market.

In 2023, the ensemble celebrated its 60th anniversary, as you said. I'd like to take a short step back in time and remind us of the evolution of the ensemble and how it got the reputation it has today?

Since 1963, when the idea of the brilliant conductor and man of education and philosophy Marin Constantin succeeded in gathering under the dome of this beautiful name of Madrigal a highly motivated team of students - of young students and mature male voices - who received from his knowledge and power a style, they reinvented a form, this one of singing, of non-vibrato voices and the continuous breathing of the choir. Marin Constantin's Madrigal has, throughout his time conducting the choir, achieved several revolutions. It was among the ensembles that most energetically and powerfully promoted contemporary Romanian composers both nationally and internationally. And here, I am happy to remember the famous disc whose preface is written by Pope John Paul II, Missa Criolla, which, in addition to Ramirez's work, has only Romanian contemporary music on the second side.

The reformation or revolution of the Romanian people's spirituality through carols was, again, one of the elements that defined Madrigal for a long time, when faith in God, when singing this major event of humanity, the Nativity, was forbidden. However, the Madrigal found ways to come into Romanian homes. The Madrigal has also, throughout its existence, sung all its works in the original languages.

And today, the Madrigal is the revolutionary of performance. Events that used to be simple concerts have today become performances in which the choir is the main character, and along with it comes the art of the actor, comes the art of scenography, light design and effects, so that every event - whether it is preclassical music, madrigals, motets, whether it is romanticism or we are talking about modern or contemporary music - is punctuated in a framework with a story, with an epic thread, with the gradation of energies and with directorial constructions, so that the idea of the choir goes into an absolute performance.

I think that, in the main, beyond the events and one-off moments that the Madrigal has experienced, which number in the hundreds, even in the thousands, it is very easy for me to say that there are 440 different cities in which the Madrigal has performed; in many of them, many times, and I am referring only to those outside the country.

What events does the Madrigal Choir have on its agenda for the coming period?

We are looking forward to preparing the Easter tours, which will take place in the second half of April and which we will be happy to announce soon. For the time being, we are preparing a very extensive tour in Peru, where Madrigal will continue the series "Romanian Contemporary Music in Ancient Universal Spaces" and will film a video at the Machu Picchu site, in addition to other concerts in Lima and Cusco. We are also preparing the traditional events we have accustomed the public to on the 1st of June and the 15th of August, for children, respectively, when we are alongside the City Hall of Constanta, on the seafront, with an absolute "Ave Maria" festival.

This year, our concerts in the country all turn into small festivals because we bring along a book, an exhibition and a concert for babies... and we are happy to remind you that we have recently set up a research department within the Madrigal for music dedicated to early cultural education and music therapy for babies and pregnant mothers.

Interview by Ana Sireteanu
Translated by Andrei-Mădălin Catană,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu