The lobby of our accommodation was already witnessing tight hugs and wide smiles of people meeting again and you could notice the spark in their eyes waiting for the upcoming activities. To set the road for what was about to come, we started our day telling, showcasing and inspiring the listeners with wonderful projects and activities from the last year or about to happen in the future. Tireless work and dedication were fit into just 5 minutes slot, meant to spark ideas in the head of the listeners and give the chance to people to give feedback or offer to join and contribute.
From concerts without stages, singing in regions of conflict or getting a glimpse on the history of choral music in Slovakia, we were amazed to hear what is being developed around Europe.
The second part of the day came offering the members two slots of 3 different topics each concerning the future development of the association and it’s activities, taking the time to involve our members into the discussion and hear their valuable perspective upon what we’ve been working on. We formed discussion groups on the following topics:
- Low budget events: comparing challenges and opportunities and giving concrete examples that have worked in the past
- ECA-EC and the environment: how can become more conscious and where can we take actions to have a more sustainable activity, while still reinforcing our values
- The future of festivals and competitions: talking about what will be relevant into the future and having a transformational approach on what is already being offered in Europe
- The benefits of singing campaign: concrete ideas and action points to implement in our upcoming European campaign on the multitude of benefits singing has
- Beyond 2021: having the board receive feedback on the outcomes of their last strategy retreat and the proposals for some changes in the association and their implications.
We are thankful for all the input we received and we are ending the day being inspired and motivated to further develop our activities and plans while taking into consideration the feedback from our members.
Ending with music..
Happy from our day, we headed into the musical programme of the evening and enjoyed the joined performance of two children’s choirs: Elementary School Ledina, conducted by Dalia Beus and Cvetko Golar Elementary School Škofja Loka, conducted by Klementina Tominšek. Accompanied by Volk Folk and Janez Jocif, they performed folk songs from seven regions of Slovenia. Later in the evening, we were impressed by the wonderful selection of the Chamber Choir of the Ljubljana Conservatory for Music and Ballet, conducted by Ambrož Čopi. Later in the evening, we’ve sung together with Orkester Mandolina, conducted by the Andrej Zupan, who impressed us with his stage presence and charm.
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Saturday afternoon was dedicated to learning, through our two workshops:
- The capacity-building workshop, on ‘How to tell your stories’
Being a storyteller takes time, takes a spark of inspiration and a lot of practice. What’s for sure is that we all have a story to tell and quite impressive ones. Luckily, after the time spent with Yvette van den Berg, we think the participants just might find their way better now, with the tools and guidance Yvette gave us. After a tiny break, with all the information settling, the participants started to do some hands-on work, transforming regular stories into the ones people will want to listen to, witnessing how small changes can sometimes make a big difference. Special thanks to Sonja Greiner, for sharing powerful stories and to Gerhard Sammer for his input on impact evaluation.
- Sing with Slovenia, a musical workshop
You might know the placement of Slovenia, right in the middle of Europe. This must mean that bordering with the Germanic, Slavic and Roman worlds is going to be either a disaster or a great success for its musical heritage. During this workshop, the participants were taken into a musical journey through Slovenian music, discovering all its facets. Warmed up after singing and moving to the traditional rhythms, the second part of the afternoon consisted of a guided tour through the centre of Ljubljana. Participants learned about the city’s colourful past, ranging from its Roman origins until today’s independent Republic of Slovenia and discovered at the same time many of the venues of the 2021 EUROPA CANTAT festival.
Ending with music ..
Right after the workshop, with a bit of time only to take a breath and prepare for what’s next.
The train ride into the cave was truly fascinating, to discover the magnificent cave formations formed over millions of years, looking simply unreal. We had the chance to meet the peaceful baby olms and with our eyes wide open, head towards the concert stage, to witness the magical performance ‘Rays of underworld’ of St. Nicholas Choir Litija, conducted by Helena Fojkar Zupančič.
We are deeply thankful to the team of Europa Cantat 2021 for all hosting us and all the help they offered into preparing an unforgettable weekend, for their good attitude and smiles they relentlessly offered to us all! We are now sure: we love Slovenia and can’t wait to be back!