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The Rock Choir Experience

img  Tobias

Admittedly, it's neither a new idea nor something that will likely lead more people to listen to Classical Music: Singing popular Rock and Pop songs with a Choir is actually the ultimate and earliest form of Cross-Over. But then again, education was probably the last thing on the Kolacny brother's mind when they founded "Scala".

Instead, they were driven by disappointment of the state of the Belgian Choir scene as well as a desire to present an open-minded audience with a show that was unafraid of traditional boundaries. So, in the earliest days of their project, there was not even much talk of crossing over or of conquering the charts. The Kolacny brothers, a talented piano duo themselves, would conduct Scala at the side, while recording and touring Europe. Between 1996 and 1999, they built the ensemble from scratch to a size of 60 girls - and established it as one of the best of its kind. The breakthrough came when Scala managed to win their native Belgium's "Choir of the Year"-award and held on to it for a stunning three years. They would follow this success up with the even more remarkable first prizes on the Pan-European level and then started touring with some of their country's best rock bands (as a backing singers). At this stage, Scala was still a Classical choir who was modern enough to take on the world of popular music.

Things changed, however, as a one-off recording of Puddle of Mudd's "She hates me" turns out to be a listener's favourite at radio station "Studio Brussel" in 2002. Live- and Studio-repertoire is then adjusted to meet the public's demand and the surge in popularity is mirrored by a surge in records' sales ("Dream on" sells 30.000 in Belgium alone and 100.000 in Germany) and sold-out shows. In 2004, Germany falls for a cover of Rammstein's "Engel" ("Angel") and this in turn leads to an album of songs exclusively in that country's language.

The next stage for Scala is now being laid as they prepare for the release of their second German album "Grenzenlos" ("Without Borders") and a German tour that will see them perform in about every major city (Berlin was virtually paved with posters this weekend). The Kolacny brothers are to take the supporting slot, which will make each night a highly eclectic mix of the old and the new.

The enthusiasm and dedication of its founders as well as the freshness of its arrangements make Scala a simple pleasure. Please don't start overanalysing this phenomenon too much - it's all about singing and having fun at it. And that's not the worst of motives.

Homepage: Scala & Kolacny Brothers
Homepage: Scala German Fan Page
Picture by Alex Vanhee

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