In an artistic biography filled with great professional success, the RTS Choir will celebrate this year an important anniversary – 80 years in existence. Through eight decades of continuous work, the Choir has positioned itself as a representative ensemble which has set high standards of artistic creation.
Its quality is still perhaps best defined by the words of composer and music critic Enrique Joseph, who said: “This is the ensemble that deserves a lasting merit for shaping a performance concept and affirming existing values, finding and illuminating new values of all creativity. And such contribution was, and still is, crucial, indispensable and decisive for an in-depth evaluation of artistic works of vocal and vocal-instrumental creative activity in our country.” Although written back in 1982, these words have been confirmed as a timeless thought, still relevant today and confirmed by the highest artistic achievements recorded in the rich professional biography of the Choir.
Originating from the rich choral singing tradition in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia, founded under the auspices of Radio Belgrade, the first concert performed by then-known Radio Choir was held on October 27, 1939 and it was its first performance as a performing body whose start was a logical continuation in the shift of artistic phenomena in Serbian music, which have their own flow and regularities in every country. The latter holds the secret to greatness and significance of the RTS Choir, whose interpretations of the simplest and most complex works from international composers’ opuses, have positioned this ensemble at the very top of the lists of performers, placing it among the doyennes of choral performance, whose artistic achievements are forming new generations of choirs of today.
The Choir made its first steps guided by experienced conductors – Milan Bajsanski and Svetolik Pascan. For three decades, the Choir was led by Borivoje Simic developing its artistic virtues, and then Mladen Jagust and Vladimir Kranjcevic led it to a great local and European success, up to Bojan Sudjic, who for more than two decades transformed it into a modern ensemble, ready for great professional challenges in the country and in the world.
Throughout history, the Choir has performed with many distinguished conductors and soloists. The Choir has participated in all major music festivals in Yugoslavia and Serbia, and has performed successfully in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia and Switzerland.
The ensemble has kept the program strategy aimed at affirming the domestic musical heritage, as well as significant creations of world choral literature and vocal and instrumental pieces, from its founding until nowadays. In doing so, the Choir made an important contribution in cultivation and preservation of the local and contemporary musical heritage, permanently archived in the Radio Belgrade Sound Archive, continuously enriching its rich collection with new, modernized recordings.
The RTS Choir has received many awards, including the October Award of the City of Belgrade (1982), “Zlatni beocug” (1989) for promoting the culture and art of the City of Belgrade, “Zlatni beocug” (2007) for a lasting contribution to the culture of the capital, “Music of the Classics” for the Concert of the Year (2014) and “Sretenjski orden of third order” a medal for the results achieved in cultural activities in 80 years of work (2019).
The RTS Choir is the only professional choir in Serbia. Its repertoire today encompasses the most relevant pieces of choral literature, complex scores of vocal-instrumental and opera music, simultaneously cultivating music of popular genres. Together with conductor Bojan Sudjic, the Choir actively performs works composed by contemporary foreign and domestic authors, most often premiering them, although many are actually dedicated to the Choir. The repertoire continues to expand in the form of collaborations with other music ensembles of the RTS Music Production.
A wide range of artistic endeavors has positioned the RTS Choir as a renowned ensemble of recognizable sound and performing reputation, which, alongside conductor Bojan Sudjic, is actively present in Serbian music life. At the same time, the Choir continues to cultivate the rich tradition of choral singing, being a synonymous with exemplary interpretation, open to contemporary world tendencies of sound creation and music interpretation which has been professionally recognized by both domestic and foreign music critics. That is why the artistic path of RTS Choir is a lasting monument of Serbian culture and a stellar moment of domestic vocal art, positioning it at the very top of interpretive art and placing among the leading representatives of Serbian choir performers.
Dr Aleksandra Paladin, musicologist