Jitro Girls' Choir from the Czech Republic, which has graced some of the most famous stages in the world, brings its high energy and stunning singing to Helena.
The choir, whose name means “daybreak,” gives a free noon recital today (Thursday, March 31) at the Montana State Capitol.
It will also perform a concert at the Myrna Loy Center Friday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18, $16 for students.
Jitro is known for its “tonal brilliance, superb intonation, distinctive rich blend of sound and energetic vitality.”
The choir is touring Montana, thanks to a two-year effort by Carroll College choir director Rob Psurny and Big Sky music teacher John Zirkle, who is also program director at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center.
Both Zirkle and Psurny studied choral music in Europe and were wowed by the Jitro Girl Choir.
“They’re a world class touring group and can hold their own on any stage,” said Zirkle in a phone interview from Livingston.
After he saw them sing, he vowed to bring them to Montana if he ever got the opportunity.
“These girls have been singing together since they were 5 years old,” Zirkle said. “The choir has sung under one director for 40 years. What they have achieved in timbre and blend is almost unheard of anywhere else in the world.”
Wednesday morning the choir was in Livingston and headed to Polson, with Zirkle at the wheel of the bus.
The night before they’d performed in Gardiner and toured Yellowstone Park, seeing bison, elk and Mammoth Hot Springs.
“It’s a very unique show,” Zirkle said. “It’s 17 young girls who are extremely talented and masterful. All are professional singers before they’re adults.”
After they performed at the Warren Miller Center Sunday night in Big Sky, Zirkle got a text message from an audience member:
“I came home and wept. It was like seeing the face of God. Pure beauty…”
Singing in the Czech Republic is like soccer camp in the United States, everyone does it.
“Their children’s choirs are the most excellent of all the children’s choirs in Europe,” said Zirkle. “And Jitro is the best of the best.”
Choir member Katerina Pavlova, 18, auditioned at age 6, she said in a phone interview from Livingston.
When she started the choir, she and other young members would practice once a week, increasing to three times a week when they got older.
Choir members attend regular school, she said, but periodically tour Europe, Asia and the United States.
Pavlova not only loves singing, she said, “I love food. I like to eat American food and French food,” with hamburgers her top American choice.
“Montana is so beautiful,” Bavlova added, “so different from the Czech Republic. Yesterday we were in Yellowstone and it was amazing.”
“I like to sing to students,” Bavlova said.
“It was fun,” she said of their recent workshop in Big Sky. “They look at us and they are surprised.”
Helena area choirs might likewise be in for a few surprises.
Jitro is doing workshops at St. Andrew School, Montana City School and Carroll College on Thursday and Friday.
“They have a rich choral tradition,” said Psurny, who was studying choral music in Prague on a Fulbright fellowship when he first heard Jitro.
Jitro “sings a fantastic repertoire from all areas of the world,” he said, and it’s very common for choir members to be in the choir eight to 10 years.
The Carroll College choir has been learning Czech music the past two months, and Jitro will help them with their diction and interpretation, Psurny said.
Czech young people are music enthusiasts, he said. “I was pleased to go to the opera and see young people there and at classical music concerts. They are just as likely to go to a concert as they are to the cinema.”