The Llerenense Choir is celebrating its anniversary this year. 25 years ago this musical activity resurfaced in our town, recovering what began years ago, in ’67, and which for different reasons was put on hold. The main commemorative activities have begun to intensify in recent weeks and will culminate in the trip to Granada to celebrate Santa Cecilia and in the interpretation of The Messiah with the Extremadura Orchestra on December 4 in Mérida
Juan Carlos Jiménez Franco is the current director of this Musical Group. He has been in charge of it since 2001, although as a choirist he has been part of it since its activity resumed.
How are these 25 years being celebrated?
We have had coexistence with each other and we will also do some more; A choral meeting has been held with the participation of 7 groups, we will make the trip to Granada where we will perform a mass in honor of Santa Cecilia in the Basilica San Juan de Dios and we will return this year to participate in the El Mesías concert on the 4th of December. To this we add the concerts that we do annually for Christmas.
In addition, this choir has been the host this year of the Annual Assembly of the Federation of Choirs and Choirs of Extremadura. It presented the report of activities with training courses and meetings and concerts that have been held this year as well as what is planned for next year. More than seventy groups make up this Federation and a large number of them attended this assembly held in Llerena. The federation commemorates its thirtieth anniversary next year.
25 years being part of this Choir, in the last ones, since 2001, as director. Important milestones for this group in its career?
For us, all performances, wherever they may be, are important, but we could highlight the mass we sang at the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica (Rome) in 2004.
What can you tell us about the first stage of the Llerena Coral?
In the first stage it was directed by Araceli López. It was founded in the late 60s and started with only white voices and later men joined. He had notable performances: at the Seville Conservatory or at the Torrevieja Habaneras Contest, among others.
After the initial break, why and how is the Choir’s activity resumed?
Knowing that there was concern about resuming the activity of a vocal group, a meeting was called through the Music School and with municipal support in order to promote this initiative. The response was very good and the activity was resumed first with Professor Consuelo Martínez, who was in charge for three years, then Emilio González Barroso took over, who was director from 1993 to 2001. It was then that I took over the direction. .
More immediate projects for next year?
We don’t have specifics, but we do have to continue training in choral singing as well as maintain the activities that we have been doing throughout the years: sacred concerts, the August choir meetings, the Santa Cecilia trip and participation in all those activities that we consider interesting for the development and enrichment of the choir itself as well as being present in the next edition of El Mesías.
Why is the Messiah Concert so important to you?
It is a unique opportunity for amateur singers to be able to participate in a concert like this. This is an important opportunity that is not available to everyone. Nine numbers of the Messiah will be performed with a high difficulty for amateur choralists, but a lot of work has been done, a lot of rehearsing has been done and it is an opportunity to enjoy it.
The rehearsals for this event, financed by the La Caixa Foundation, are being held in Badajoz but the Concert will be held at the Mérida Conference Center. It will be offered by a participatory choir composed of 180-200 people together with the stage choir and the Extremadura Orchestra. The Llerena Choir also participated in the first edition that was held last year.
How many components does the Llerena choir currently have?
About 45, although the average of rehearsals is around 30 because there are always those who have family or work commitments. These are the numbers we have always moved between. We do have to highlight that this year we have had quite a few new additions who are already working to catch up and be able to perform. In fact, some of them will already participate in the activities for Santa Cecilia, both in Llerena and Granada. The idea is that next Christmas the rest will be incorporated.
The Llerena Choir was born to keep alive the musical interest that existed in Llerena. 25 years have passed since this rebirth. The new acquisitions made this year lead them to remember that the doors are open for “anyone who likes choral singing” and wants to join this musical family.
Juan Carlos Jiménez Franco, who next year will celebrate sixteen years as director of the Llerena Choral Group, has also taken the opportunity to thank the “great involvement of the current board of directors with respect to the organization of events and execution of projects.” They carry out “tireless work in favor of the choir and to spread the name of Llerena everywhere we go”