Voices from Stras': voices that count

Interviews 04.03.2021

Catherine Bolzinger and Les Voix de Stras' : singers from all over the world.

Catherine Bolzinger is a child of Strasbourg. A voice that counts and that brings people together. Her passion for the music of the 20th century is born from her meeting with Georges Aperghis and her apprenticeship in the choir of the Orchestra of Lyon with Nicole Corti. In her hometown, she created the Voix de Stras', a choir of six women from all over the world, from Chile, Slovakia, Armenia among others. She is also the director of the Philharmonic Choir, which forms an ideal choir to integrate local diversity and foreign amateurs.

When and how was this women's choir formed? Was it a choice from the start? 

In fact, it is a choice of circumstances, a choice of crisis. In the years 2008-2009, I couldn't find enough tenors to create music that touched me.

What is the main difference with a mixed choir?

I realised that a women's choir allowed me to explore more original musical paths and to develop more committed projects on social issues such as cancer, for example, through nomadic musical performances in the city.

We work as a troupe, on the ground, united. Each one of us brings her own culture and vocal colour, because the palate is formed by the words we pronounce in our early childhood!

How do you build a creative repertoire?

Simply by placing orders, but I also have training and experience in transcription, which gives me the possibility of making arrangements of classical songs and chants, and which adds to our repertoire.

This allows us to weave together discoveries and arrangements such as Fauré's Melodies for example, and to decompartmentalize the repertoires.

You are also the director of the Philharmonic Choir since 2003. 

What is an amateur choir in Strasbourg today?

There has always been a place in our region for this choir, which sings with all the orchestras in the region.

Who are these 86 voices and where do they come from? In fact, I realized that many adults could not find a way to extend their musical practice and that they could hardly pass on their experiences to their children.

The choir is great because it allows the integration of foreigners passing through our territories: foreign teachers or students, diplomats, seconded workers. It is not necessary to speak a language well to be able to sing it. It is a living space of great cultural diversity.
We have 3 to 4 productions per year. Our repertoire is rather romantic but we also have a taste for creation with pieces by Thierry Escaich or Philippe Schoeller.

I have also initiated a whole musical work around the rotating presidencies of the European Commission which allows us to realize beautiful projects like the one we have with the Percussions de Strasbourg around "Canto general" by Mikis Theodorakis with texts by Pablo Neruda. 


The pandemic has frozen the music scene: what impact has it had on your current and future projects?

We had started a tour with the musical show written by Arturo Gervasoni around Vivaldi's Four Seasons and we had to cancel the concerts planned in Paris at the Théâtre du Ranelagh. 

Like many, we have created online formats and appointments such as the Online Playlists on Youtube 

I would also like to work on what it imposes on us, using photos, portraits: what happens to the voice behind the mask?

Interview by Sandrine Maricot Despretz


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