Young Women’s Choir of Greece – Bel Cantes

This award-winning choir overcomes performance anxiety through moving with the music and bonding in every rehearsal.

What do you think is key to creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere?

I’ve worked with choirs of about 60 members every year for 31 years now, and the key is to love your choir members and go about everything with respect and humor so the atmosphere becomes magical and united. Bel Cantes has been established for 3 years now, and I’m really proud of what we have managed until now. Ultimately, love music and love people – and it all comes back to you.

QUICK FACTS

Choir Name: Bel Cantes
Location: Patra, Greece
Style: Classical/Folk/Traditional/Pop
Number of Singers: 20
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Can you share with us more about the style of music your group sings?

We sing a variety of styles (Disney music, Renaissance, Film, Contemporary, Greek, Religious) – It really depends on the type of concert we are going to present.

For example, for our next concert, we will sing:

1 Ave Maria- Cesar Alejandro Carrillo
2 Sure on this Shining Night- by Morten Lauridsen
3 Caramba – by Otilio Galindez
4 Nella fantasia- by Ennio Morricone
5 Bo yavo haboker – by Josef Hadar
6 Tundra – by Ola Gjeilo
7 Θαλασσάκι(Thalassáki) – Παραδοσιακό (Traditional)/ Χορωδιακή επεξεργασία Θανάσης Μπιλιλής (Arranged by Thanasis Bililis)
8 Γιαρέμ (Giarém)- Χατζηνάσιος ( by Chatzinásios) /Χορωδιακή επεξεργασία Σάββας Ρακιντζάκης (Arranged by Sávvas Rakintzákis)

For choirs around the world who wish to sing Greek music, where should they begin?

“Thalassaki” – It’s about men who work in the sea for a long time. Check our performance of it here!

What was a very special performance for your choir?

Our performance in ARTIVA’s 5th Choral Festival in Nafplio because we achieved our goals in regards to the difficulty of our program, while taking very positive feedback both from the Festival’s organization and from other choirs. You can see our performance here:

Wow! The choir sounds completely unified, and the singers are dancing as well! What was it like to prepare for this?

Τhe biggest challenges was to synchronize their moves. We had a choir member, who was also a dancer, assist in choreography which helped quite a bit.

What inspired you to add the choreography?

Music with movement is just great! I believe it makes the singers much stronger. Sometimes I will divide the singers into smaller groups of different voices and work with them separately during our 2-hour weekly rehearsal. I want them to feel every note they sing.

Any other challenging performances?

Our participation in the 9th National Choral Festival dedicated to Mikis Theodorakis in Nafpaktos was a challenging one because of the nature of the competition which was to sing works by Greek composers only. It was tough because Greek composers don’t write enough music for choirs! Luckily one composer from Patras, Loukas Adamopoulos, made a program for us with 2 pieces for the concert, and we came in 5th place!

A turning point in the life of your choir?

Our first trip as a group in Kalamata for Interkultur’s International Choir Competition in which we got awarded with a golden medal. This trip really united us and made us bond even more as a choir.

Bel Cantes and advisers celebrating the success of their Gold Medal at the Intercultural International Contest & Choir Festival.

What is a very memorable performance for Bel Cantes?

During a Mother’s Day performance, we sang a famous Greek song “Lullaby” especially rewritten for our choir by Loukas Adamopoulos, which was one of the most emotional moments for us. See it here!

Any emotional moments in rehearsal?

Rehearsing for a Christmas performance is really emotional both because of the Christmas spirit and repertoire and also because of the big, beautiful sound produced when singing in an empty church.

What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?

New members are always surprised when we crack jokes during our rehearsals, as they haven’t seen this in other choirs before. This effectively makes them feel welcomed by the older members. During rehearsals, there are always times when the whole choir starts laughing because of a funny incident or because someone said a joke.

It sounds like your choir knows how to bond!

Laughing together is important and makes the members bond strongly, but also takes the anxiety of a performance away.

Elena Droukopoulos was born in Patras, Greece, and started her musical studies at the Palladium Conservatory where she studied accordion and performance. She continued her studies at the Patras Conservatoire, from where she received her bachelor's degree in music with highest honors. Elena is a highly accomplished pianist, theorist, flutist, vocalist, and conductor. Since 1988 she has been working as a music teacher in Secondary Education where she has been involved in many festivals and competitions. In June 2017, Elena received the Diploma of Honor with Honor, with Professor Aggelos Georgakatos (conductor of the Athens Opera Chorus) at the Conservatory of Polyphonic Patras.