Karmina Šilec has brought freshness and originality to the world of music and theatre. As a theatre director, conductor and composer she has projects with various companies, drama and opera houses, festivals and ensembles worldwide. Karmina has developed the artistic concept Choregie. Choregie focuses on the creation process that brings the musical notion of composing to the theatrical aspects of performing and staging. With her concept "Choregie – vocal theatre" she has brought freshness and originality to the world of vocal music and theatre. Her ensembles have performed on stages and festivals of the highest esteem, such as the Ruhrtriennale (DE), Prototype Festival NYC (USA), Festival d'Automne á Paris (FR), Holland Festival (NL), Moscow Easter Festival (RU), Dresdner Musikfestspiele (DE), Golden Mask (RU), Melbourne Festival (AU), Operadagen Rotterdam (NL), Auditorium, Rome (IT), Steierischer Herbst (AT), Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space (JP), St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall (RU), Polyfollia (FR), Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Teresa Carreño Theater (VE), Teatro Colon (AR), Esplanade (SG), etc.
Each new project signed by Karmina Šilec is an expedition into the field of the unknown and the unexplored. Artistically her projects are results of thorough research of music for voices, parallel different types of music and various musical eras; by merging the old and the contemporary they create new, exciting contexts in music. They also constantly reintroduce Slovene, contemporary and early, unknown authors. Within the uncompromising frame of the highest standards they continuously prove that vocal ensembles can be outstanding, versatile artistic bodies - superb artistic instruments which are constantly opening up new creative spaces. With her boldness, provocativeness and erudition Karmina Šilec transformed various vocal ensembles into superior artistic formations of the highest rank. She expanded the field of choir, chamber and solo singing to reach unimaginable extensions of the most complex creative space of an all-encompassing multi-form work of art. Based on thorough research she created a whole range of conceptual, stylistically and thematically perfected projects, among them Toxic Psalms, Evergreen, Fauvel, Placebo, Vampirabile, Scivias, Spixody, Who'd have thought that the snow falls, Vertical Thoughts, Stripsody, CS Light, From Time Immemorial..., Rusalki, Pleading for words etc. The dimensions of these projects surface in multi-disciplinary stage performances which logically complement the musical tissue and permeate with the basic elements of musical theatre – the concept of Choregie.
Karmina Šilec has brought a characteristic flair and integrity to the direction of vocal ensembles. Her main aim is a continual search for new music and new fields of work: from early music with a special focus on medieval music, ethnic music with extended vocal techniques to the latest avant-garde repertoire which is her major interest. What is particularly fascinating is the sound itself being delivered by the singers in a creative process in which changes of registers, various vocal techniques of throat singing, natural timbre and cultivated belcanto articulation seem so natural and simple as if it were a spontaneous game, an everyday form of communication. The result is some sort of a superb ‘new age’, an absolute musical experience which crosses the borders of cultures, nations, beliefs and merges with the universal human soul into a harmonious organism. Karmina Šilec crossed the borders of spiritual and cultural limitations, of exclusiveness and prejudice built across centuries, and brought the (musical) world back into the sphere of unity, togetherness, of what is warmly ours.
Performances of her ensembles can best be described as virtuosic: with impeccable intonation, clear sound, brilliant movement, free of obstacles, almost auto-hypnotic – defined by a flow of energy of an utterly disciplined and ambitious ensemble.
She has collaborated on various international projects, has created more than 50 staged or thematically rounded projects, done more than 100 concert tours worldwide, participated at 70 international festivals and has collaborated with many excellent artists from different eras: Heiner Goebbels, Krisztof Penderecki, Hermut Haenchen, Marko Letonja, Vladimir Ivanoff, Maria Graf, Bernhard Landauer, Karl Heinz Brandt, Sidra Bell, Japp Blonk, Istvan Horkay, Miguel Vallinas, Jernej Lorenci, Radovan Vlatkovič, Sebastjan Horvat, Sabina Cvilak, Marko Črnčec, etc.
- Hewlett50 commission for new theatre piece, 2021
- Fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, 2020
- Harvard University/Radcliffe Institute for advanced study Fellow 2018-2019
- The Sterija Award for original theatre music, 2018
- Nomination for the Europe Theatre Prize - Theatrical Realities (EPTR), 2017
- Golden Mask Theatre Award (together with Heiner Goebbels and Carmina Slovenica), 2016
- Con tempus - Platform for contemporary art award, 2012
- Music Theatre Now award in the category Music Beyond Opera (by the International Theatre Institute), 2008
- International Robert Edler Prize, for exceptional contribution to the world choir movement, 2004
- Teatarfest award for the most experimental theatre work, 2009
- Glazer Credential for her achievements in the field of music, 2009
- Carpe Vitam − Open Mind Stockholm award, 2005
- Gallus award for outstanding achievements in the field of art, 2004
The Prešeren Award; highest Slovenian award for achievements in art (for Vampirabile), 2000
- The main Ford Award for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage (for the project Slovenian Sounds), 2002,
- Recognition of important artistic works (correspondent to D.M.A), University of Ljubljana (SL), 1998
- Golden Bird award for a creative approach to choral singing by Liberal Academy, 1994
- more than 20 highest international awards at international choral competitions:
- Kathaumixw (CA) - two first and two second prizes; the choir is proclaimed "The most outstanding choir of Kathaumixw 94",
- Golden Gate (USA) - three first prizes and the audience award,
- Tampere (FI) best conductor of the competition, two golden stamps,
- International competition Gallus Maribor (SL) - golden plaquette, first prize, five special awards,
- Des Moines (USA) - two first prizes and a gold medal,
- Llangollen (GB) - first prize,
- Montreux (CH) - Prix OTM, Prix de Jury,
- Neerpelt (BE) - Summa cum laude,
- Kalundborg (DN) - first prize with the maximum possible number of points awarded, etc.)
Theater Mania: … the grandiosity of the staging rivals what one might see at the Met … an overwhelming aural and visual experience … Šilec presents her arcana with a heavy dose of beauty and wonder …
The New York Times: … vibrantly theatrical, genre-blurring, unusual in its techniques, eclectic in its musical style and politically charged … Ms Šilec is savvy about maintaining dramatic momentum, and the performers execute every shift in tone with subtlety and agility ... striking new work by the rabidly talented Carmina Slovenica … the ensemble and its director, Karmina Šilec, have created haunting images … Toxic Psalms adds a savage yet polished theatricality to the mix as well as an ambiguity all too rare in American performance … all add up to an evening that’s bracing yet, perversely enough, enchanting …
Opera New Magazine: … a constant stream of ideas, voice, movement, impressions and dosed emotion. In audience, you cannot do much more than almost breathless look and marvel at so much quality … Theater spectacle … a theater which aims for perfection in any discipline …
Opera World: … Carmina Slovenica is the musical answer to Bausch's groundbreaking concept of Tantztheater …
New York Music Daily: … breath-taking and equally relevant multimedia suite ... Šilec’s direction toyed with crowd dynamics on both the conformist and nonconformist sides with a coldly sardonic humor that offered momentary respite from the lingering bleakness of the music … a sonically thrilling, disquieting premiere for Karmina Šilec’s Toxic Psalms …
The Wall Street Journal: … power of the performers … haunting theatrical moments …
Le Monde: ... they radiate fantastic energy, composure and professionalism on stage ... they can do anything... with that marvellous energy, composure and professionalism...
New York Observer: … strikingly staged by Karmina Šilec… visually the show was elegantly spare … Carmina Slovenica are collectively and individually heroic, they sent their voices pealing out like a band of angels …
Agence France Press: … innovative theatre company Carmina Slovenica … intellectually challenging …
The Telegraph: … Carmina Slovenica gained a world-wide reputation for their powers of story-telling through choral songs … joyous moments of collective energy or anarchy that these astonishing performers shone, and the piece itself really came alive …
Basellandshaftlische Zeitung: … Karmina Šilec’s choral opera Fauvel is a really interesting, multi-layered and a very aesthetic work ... captivating beauty ... veritable Theaterspektakel with immense beautiful images ... like a bulky work of art in a museum that refreshes, encourages us to think, distresses and embraces at the same time. And that is the reason why it continuously invites the viewer to new observations – if one only allows it ...
San Francisco Classical Voice: …Carmina Slovenica are in your face, created by women, driven by women, not afraid to show their teeth or shout down injustice … pure talent and virtuosity is astounding … the languages, time periods, and cultures blurred into visceral emotion and reaction ...
Delo newspaper: ... gesture, facial expression, choreography and the dynamics of the performers are mainly in the service of graduating suggestiveness, the images and stage tableaux are never self-sufficient; they are dosed with precision without causing distraction or offering misleading emphasis of the substance; there is always and only music in the forefront. And how extremely diverse and heterogeneous it is; an exceptional sense of combining what appears to be incompatible, culminating into a surprisingly homogenous totality in the end - yet another quality of the director ...
Theatre review Melbourne: ... the world renowned ‘Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica’… the theatrics and the beauty of music and glamour of vocals …
Neue Musikzeitung: ... professional precision that leaves one speechless. From choral singing, through crystal clear choral speaking, to simple stage movement – individual, in groups, as a whole, with or without props … and that is of course where the similarity to Heiner Goebbels’s understanding of theatre can be found …
Večer: … precision, elegance and suggestive power, incredible sensibility with the right measure of how musical and scenic elements are incorporated into a convincing corpus … creates a mystical atmosphere without mystifying, reaches a hallowed status without allegory; the demanding repertoire chosen without artistic hermetism, dramatic effect reached without being pathetic, set and costume design perfected without pompousness or even exhibitionism …
Paarol: ... Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica like laser beams through the soul … You have to hear and see it to be able to believe it ...
Opera News/Opera Guild: … terpsichorean radicalism that were still often as physical as they were musical…wonderful cohesion… aural equivalent of Bausch’s Tanztheater, if you could imagine her medium-challenging dancers also singing…
lectures/workshops at symposiums/conferences:
International Symposium on Singing and Song (CA), IFCM Symposium for Choral Music (KR), Europa Cantat (ES, BE, HU), Estonian choral federation (EE), Ministry of Education in Singapore (SG), Lithuanian Choral federation (LT), Flemish Choral Federation (NL), World choir games (AU, RU, KR), Klemetti Institute (FL), Spanish choral federation (E), National choral convention Mexico (MX), World Symposium for Children’s choirs Vancouver (CA), World choir games Sochi (RU), Choir Games Xiamen (CN), etc.
speaker at Congresses:
Sharing the Voices 500 (CA), Clasicall:Next Rotterdam (NL), International Symposium Donne in Musica (IT), Tenso (European professional chamber choirs association) (NL), Symposium Voice (CA), World Conference for Choral Music (HK), Osterreichises Chorkongress (AT), Conductor's Conference IFCM (VE), Voices of Origin/IFCM Ethnical choral music congress (PR), etc.
lectures at Universities:
Harvard University (USA), University of Maribor (SI), University for Music and Performing Arts Graz (AU), University of California (USA), Stockholm university (SE), University of Siauliai (LT), Music Academy in Zagreb (CR), Theatre Academy Saint Petersburg (RU), Music Academy Ljubljana (SI), University of Viña del Mar (CL), etc.
International festival Choregie 2010 – 2012
Concert series Attacca 2008 -
Concert series Choregie 2012 -
New music theatre competition, 2012
International festival Attacca, 2004 - 2018
As a jury member at choral conducting competitions and choir competitions she has judged more than 50 competitions worldwide, among them also the prestigious Eric Ericson competition for choral conductors, Grand Prix Europe, International competition Gallus, Tampere festival, Grand prix of nation, World choir games, etc.
a member of several artistic committees and commissions (Commission for ethnical and multicultural music, IFCM (International Federation for Choral music), artistic committee of International competition Gallus Maribor, member of Choir Olympics Council, etc.
CS Editions, Music collection ATTACCA (JSKD), Consultant for music of Central Europe for Earthsongs Publishing (USA).
Music theatre/staged concerts (selected)
THRENOS for the Throat (New music theatre Choregie), 2020
VOGP Music for Survival (Vocal orchestra VOGP), 2018
Evergreen or who would not weep (Opera and ballet Ljubljana, SI), 2016
Fauvel (Theater Basel, CH), 2016
Fortuna wont be Fauvels’s match! (SNG Maribor, SI), 2015
Toxic Psalms /Ultimate collective experience (St. Ann’s Warehouse, NY), 2015
Scivias (Palao de la musica Catalana, Barcelona, E), 2015
Spixody (festival Predihano Ljubljana, SI), 2006
It is a story about you, E 78 (Pecs, HU), 2015
Slovenian Sounds (Cankarjev dom, SI), 2001
Na juriš in the mood! (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2009
Adiemus (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2005
Vampirabile (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2000
Scent of Ancestors (Radyal System Berlin, DE), 2013
What have you got against peasants, lady? (Choregie festival), 2013
Placebo or Is There One Who Would Not Weep (Choregie festival), 2012
Rusalke (Španski borci Ljubljana, SI), 2010
From Time Immemorial … (Opera and ballet Slovenian National Theatre Maribor SI), 2002
CS LIGHT (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2007
Stripsody (National theatre Maribor, SI) 2005
Perspective East (festival Choregie, SI), 2011
Die Ursonate, (Art Gallery Maribor, SI) 2009
Scivias (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2001
Who'd Have Thought That Snow Falls (festival Choregie, SI), 2012
Vertical Thoughts (National theatre Maribor, SI), 2010
When the Mountain changed its clothing (Ruhrtrienalle, DE), 2012
Miracles (festival Choregie, SI), 2011
Pleading for words (Slovenian Music Days, SI), 2011
Choregie/thematic concerts (selected)
Intono (2018), D. Lang: Little Girls Matches (2018), VOGP Music for Survival (2018), Balkanika 2 (2017), Lajtl (2017), G. Bryars: Laude cortonese (2016), elegance a la francese (2016), Za dobro letino (2016), Zvoki Azije (2010), Balkanika (2014), Words and music (2014), Dveri (2013), Tehilim (2013), Brez kiklce (2009), Americas (2008), Slovenian Sounds 2 (2008), Drum café (2006), O Succesoress (2005) , From the Stone in the Water (2005), O, Deus (2005), Balkanika (2005), Miraculum (2004), Musica Inaudita (2002), Nolite tacere (2001), Songbridge (2000), Fallen Women (1999), Aurora (1997), More a tale than reality (1995), Messe in d-minor by Peter Cornelius (1992), This time a bit different (1991). Invocations (2016), etc..
Karmina Šilec has projects with various companies, opera houses and ensembles worldwide, among them Basel Opera, Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Maribor, Carmina Slovenica, Radio Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian National Project Choir, ¡Kebataola! ensemble, Orchestra Chorus Instrumentalis, National chamber orchestra of Chile, Lithuanian chamber choir, Big Band and Wind Orchestra of the Slovenian Army, female choir Rotovž, ansambel STOP, Musica Cubicularis, Mexican national choir, Mixed choir of Faculty of Education Maribor, National Youth Choir of Carinthia, Kantika, and many other.
As choral conductor she also collaborated in several operas, oratorios and other bigger works.
MUSIC FOR THEATRE
Black snow (The Drawing Center, New York), 2019
Stabat Mater or Letters from Mother to a son, Maribor, 2019
Michelangelo (Dubrovnik summer festival, National theatre I.P Zajc, CR), 2018
Heavenly Kingdom (BITEF festival, National drama Belgrade, SR), 2017
BOOK: Nolite tacere - Translated in Music, 2013
CD: Laude Cortonese (2017), Toxic Psalms (2015), When the Mountain Changed its clothing (2013), Pleading for Words (2011), Americas (2011), Balkanika (2010), Musica Inaudita ll. (2010), Na juris in the mood! (2009), Drum café (2009), Muisca Inaudita l. (2007), Vampirabile (2007), CM1 (2006), Citira (2002), Times and Places (2001), Following the sun (1998), Drumlca (1997), Dream a dream (1996), To the strings (1995), More a tale than reality (1995)
VINYL: Na juris in the mood! (2009
DVD: Documentary film Placebo (2016), What do you have against Peasants, Lady? (2014), Placebo or Is There One Who Would Not Weep (2013)
TAPE: P. Cornelius: Masse in D Minor, 1991
Dubrovnik Summer festival (CR), Bitef festival (RS), Operadagen Rotterdam (NL), Festival Coralies (FR), Prototype festival, NY (USA) Golden Mask Moscow (RU), Theatre festival Basel (CH), Melbourne festival (AU), Radial Vokalnacht, Radial system Berlin (DE), Holland festival (NL), Theatre confrontations Lublin (PL), Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen Hannover (DE) Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussels (BE), Ruhrtrienalle (DE), Festival Autumne de Paris (FR), Borštnikovo srečanje (SI), Steierisher Herbst (AT), Korofest (TU), Urban fest Niš (RS), Slovenian Music Days (SI), Nuit de Choers Festival (BE), European choir festival Basel (CH), Teatarfest Sarajevo (BIH), festival Resurexit (LT), Festival Voice of the Americas future (USA), Choral festival in Coimbra (PT), Dresdener Musikfestspiele (DE). World music Days (SI), International showcase Polyfolia (FR), Wratislavia Cantans (PL), Moscow Eastern festival (RU) , Cantapueblo Mendoza (AR), festival Viňa del Mar (CL), International Choir Festival (CN), America Cantat (VE), Europa Cantat (FR, E, HU), Choir Olympics Linz (AT), Sympatti festival (FL), etc..