Swedish-born Sofi Jeannin studied conducting and singing at the Stockholm Royal College of Music, the Nice Conservatoire and the Royal College of Music, London. She currently serves as the Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers and Music Director of la Maîtrise de Radio France. During her tenure with la Maîtrise, Ms Jeannin has been a champion of new works. The chorus has collaborated with composers including Kaija Saariaho, Peter Eötvös, John Adams and Thierry Escaich. Additionally, she prepared the Royal College of Music Chorus for conductors Bernard Haitink, Peter Schreier and David Willcocks and has served as a collaborative conductor for Gustavo Dudamel, Christoph Eschenbach and Valery Gergiev. Also, engaged in the field of education Sofi Jeannin has worked with the chorus and orchestra of Kinshasa, Congo, and has also been involved in El Sistema, Greece since 2017.
Katarzyna Neugebauer-Jastrzębska graduated from the Wrocław Academy of Music. She began work as an accompanist at the Academy and for three years she was a repetiteur of the Wrocław Opera soloists. She has been collaborating with the NFM Choir as an accompanist since 2009 and also works regularly with the Polish National Youth Choir. Another champion of Contemporary music, Ms Neugebauer has been involved in a number of premieres of works by young composers including K. Brochocka and A. Porębski, in addition to performing at Eurosilesia, Stars Promote and Musik unter Zeit. Additionally, she was a part of the recording initiative undertaken by the NFM Choir of the Bob Chilcott Album released in the UK in 2012.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny graduated from the University of Wrocław in 2000 with a degree in biology. That year, she founded the Kameralny Chór Akademii Medycznej (Medici Cantantes Choir at the Medical University of Wrocław). In 2004, she received a diploma from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, where she studied Music Education and was awarded a diploma in 2005 from the Vocal Department. During this time, she was honoured with the first prize in the National Contest for Choir Conductors. In 2006, she completed the Postgraduate Voice Production and Training Programme at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. Since June 2006, Franków-Żelazny has been the artistic director of the National Forum of Music Choir. In 2008, she was awarded a special prize for conductors from the 39th Legnica Cantat National Choir Contest. Franków-Żelazny became the head of Polish National Youth Choir, which she also founded, in 2013. She completed course work at the Academy of Culture Leaders at the Economic University of Kraków, in 2014 and was distinguished with the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture. The following January, she was named the programme director of the Choral Academy of the National Forum of Music. In 2016, Franków-Żelazny was a music curator for the year that Wrocław served as the European Capital of Culture. The album DE PROFUNDIS – Polish Psalms of the 20th and 21st Century with the NMF Choir under her direction was awarded the Fryderyk prize for the best choral, oratorio and orchestra music, 2017. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
Lili Boulanger, the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger, was an early 20th Century French composer. She was a fantastically talented artist who negotiated the Académie’s regressive views on women’s emancipation to become the first woman ever awarded the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome for composition. Her family had already been part of the French musical establishment for two generations when she and her sister were born. Her father won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1835. By the age of two, Lili sang songs while Fauré accompanied and at five, she attended her sister’s organ lessons with Louis Vierne. Unfortunately, her compositions are scare. Lili was diagnosed at age 3 with intestinal tuberculosis (Crohn’s disease) and her ill health cut her life short at the age of 24. Lili Boulanger first entered the Prix de Rome in 1912. During the time leading up to her first entry her compositional work centred around preparing the pieces for the competition, particularly setting poetry. This was the genesis of Hymne au Soleil, which she set to a text by George Cassaud. The piece embodies Boulanger’s love for exoticism in its depiction of a Hindu religious ceremony. The work is loved for its driving pedal tones, which represent the power of the sun, and its solo section, which exhibits astonishingly lush word-painting.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator