by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder, who interviewed Rolf Ehlers, Director of Landesmusik-Akademie Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
About our interview guest:
Rolf Ehlers is fascinated of vocal music since his childhood. Even his parents met in a choir, so he grew up with choral music. He studied musicology, German and Italian language in Freiburg and developed a singing career which lead him to small professional vocal ensembles. At the same time he was member of some professional choirs (some German Radio Choirs, Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, Amsterdam Baroque Choir, Swiss Chamber Choir etc.). His main epoch is the early baroque and renaissance music, where he can exploit his high and light tenor voice. This is illustrated by many recordings with Dufay Ensemble, La Chapelle Rhénane, Musica Fiata and others. As “second job” he was always managing vocal groups, choirs, orchestras and other musical institutions. Until 2010 he managed the chamber choir “Camerata Vocale Freiburg” and brought this group to international reputation, from 2010 until 2013 he was General Manager of Thomas Hengelbrock’s Balthasar-Neumann-groups and in 2014 he was elected to be the new director of the State Music Academy of Rheinland-Pfalz (Landesmusikakademie Rheinland-Pfalz).
The State Music Academy of Rheinland-Pfalz (LMA) offers about 60 courses for professional musicians as well as for amateurs and young people. Another function of the academy is to bring impulses to music teachers for all types of school. The academy is located directly at the Rhine ca. 12km north of Koblenz in two buildings and offers more than 80 beds with additional capacities in the Schloss (castle) of Engers, where all meals are provided. Many regional choirs, orchestras and other music groups are taking advantage of this infrastructure for their rehearsal weekends.
The first vocal summer classes took place 2000 and 2001 with the Hilliard Ensemble as cooperation between “Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz”, the foundation “Villa musica” and LMA. The moving spirit of these years had been Willi Becker, the coordinator of Vocal Music at Kultursommer. Some years later the King’s Singers passed by for another vocal summer class, but then other aspects became more important for LMA and the vocal music turned in the background. From this year on we try to restart the vocal summer classes and hope to begin a new brilliant tradition, and I am very happy that Willi Becker will be here again as connection between Kultursommer and LMA.
What makes the LMA summer courses different from other masterclasses?
The great charm of our summer course is the location at the riverside, the prettiness of our buildings and places, including the castle and the fact, that we are spending one week together with the coaching ensemble and all participants. Another quality are the concerts that are flanking the course with many possibilities to check the results in public. I am sure that we can transport the “Spirit of Engers” – being together with great people and not to forget celebrating ourselves…
Amarcord is one of the most famous and expert vocal group of the present. They are very good in ensemble coaching and they made it easy to connect with music festivals nearby. In some of these concerts, especially in the last night “Amarcord and friends” at the “Mosel Musik Festival” even the participating vocal groups will have the opportunity to sing at a well-known festival. For me it seemed logical to restart our summer class series with one of the most famous groups, and to begin with a focus on the traditional repertoire in order to open to Jazz and Pop in the following years.
Can you describe the experience for the participating group? What did former participants say about their time at Schloss (Castle) Engers?
All participating groups of the past Vocal Summer Classes were extremely happy when they left. Some of them started an international career, like the Norwegian “Trio Medieval”. All of them enjoyed the community of staying together and making music together with like-minded people. Sharing experiences on social media is very interesting, but sharing the common interest of putting into practice vocal music, making new friends and enjoying a great summer time with a warm-hearted organization – this can be something real special!
This is a masterclass with one of the most prestigious vocal music ensembles in the world – who do you address with your summer course offer?
The participating vocal ensembles should be a little settled and should have already concert experience. This is the perfect stage for Amarcord to start their coaching. We expect vocal groups from 3 up to 8 singers (even more, if they keep ensemble-singing as principle and not being a small choir). Due to our function as Music Academy for Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), we are glad about the application of some regional groups, but we are equally happy for every international application. And we are extremely happy to be able to offer the course for only accommodation and full board costs. There is no course fee!
You find the summer class on our website: http://landesmusikakademie.de/index.php?id=217&c=431 Before every member makes an own registration, we would like to talk to your group in order to avoid misunderstandings. Just write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us: +49 2622 90520. There is no deadline. When our capacity is exhausted, we have to deny other applications.