Girls Choir from the Czech Republic
JITRO, meaning “Daybreak” in Czech, is more than just a concert choir from Hradec Kralove, a town in the Czech Republic. It is an organization of 500 children in seven preparatory ensembles, of which only the best 25 or 30 qualify to tour. For 35 years they have been admired all over the world for their tonal brilliance, superb intonation, distinctive rich blend of sound and energetic vitality. Jitro is today seen as one of the best children’s choirs anywhere in the world. Many golden awards have been bestowed on the choir by international juries. The list can begin with the prestigious European contests in Llangollen (1988), Nantes (1989), Lecco (1990) and Neerpelt (1996) and finish with the recent World competitions in Olomouc (2003) and Xiamen (2006).
America’s love of Jitro was re-born when the choir was invited to sing at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in San Antonio, Texas in 1993. Standing ovations were given by thousands of professional American conductors in the auditorium. An official response from Dr. J. B. Haberlen, ACDA President, “Our ACDA members will long remember your concerts, as they were a major highlight of the 1993 convention.” The excitement in this select audience of choral conductors and their sustained applause attest to this fact. Professor Doreen Rao of Toronto University commented, “Are you aware that you have just changed forever the character and style of all American choral singing?”
Jitro Choir makes over 100 appearances annually and has sung with other renowned choruses, including the American Boys’ Choir. Jitro has performed with the Bavarian Symphonic Orchestra, the Milano Symphonic Orchestra and Pardubice Philharmonic. They have performed in prestigious concert halls in Prague, Barcelona, Hale, Bern, Basle, Dortmund, Avignon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Austin, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville, Indianapolis, Madison, Chicago, Penn State University, New York City, Huston, San Antonio, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Xiamen, and many more.
The Jitro Choir’s classical discography includes 20 solo Jitro discs. They have recorded with various companies like BMA, Classico, and Amabile. The recent discography of the choir contains a special edition of CDs devoted to famous composers associated somehow with the choir, Bohuslav Martinu, Otmar Macha, Petr Eben, Ilja Hurník.
In the year 2003 Jitro achieved the absolute victory, competing with one hundred seventy-one choruses from all over the world, at the international Songs Festival in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Jitro participated in six categories and was granted six golden medals (scoring one hundred points twice). The international commitment of the choir during that year included tours to USA, Switzerland (two tours), Germany (four tours), France (four tours), Poland and Austria. A very similar scenario has been repeated each year up to now. Since 1984 the choir Jitro always only won at international competitions, total 17 times (!!!), what attests to the continuing excellence by Jitro.
The choir took part in the Fourth World Choir Games 2006 in Xiamen, China in July 2006 and competed with four hundred choirs from all over the world. They received three gold medals and one silver medal, which attests to the continuing excellence by Jitro.
Jitro choir permanently verifies its distinction by competing with other choirs. In July 2009 the choir achieved absolute victory in the BM competition in Pardubice, Czech Republic, having won in all categories they applied to and in the finale the choir was awarded the Grand Prix by unanimous verdict of all jury members.
The recent overseas tours were Japan 2007, USA 2008 (US tours already No. 10 and 11 in the row, the last one having been accepted really very well – see critics attached). The last overseas tour took place in Japan 2010, where the choir celebrated also the new CD “The Eternal Rainbow” recorded in Tokyo and finalized in Czech Republic. Jitro performed there 10 big concerts in large concert halls where the audience was several times over 1000 people. The choir was accepted in Japan very warmly. Mr. Ando, professor of music at Yokohama University said after the concert:
“Three years ago I considered that Jitro was the best choir all over the world, but you have technically even improved since that time. Some songs, e.g. Hillbillies (Jan Vicar) would not be mastered by any other choir worldwide.”
Artistic director and conductor Professor Jiri Skopal, Ph.D. is associated with the Czech Girls’ Choir (Jitro) since 1977. In 1982, he also formed a boys’ choir. Professor Skopal has been a teacher, professor and the head of the Department of Music at University of Hradec Kralove. He has also published essays and choir education textbooks. Professor Skopal is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He was the very first person to be awarded the prestigious prize “Primus Inter Pares” by the City of Hradec Kralove for his outstanding contributions to the regional culture. Professor Skopal works with accompanist Michael Chrobak on many artistic activities for the choir, including the development of their repertoire.