Cum decore

Choir under the auspices of F. X. Šaldy grammar school

About the choir

Cum decore was founded in 1991 by Ludvík Lukuvka at the Gymnázium F. X. Šaldy grammar school. The choir’s history can be divided into five-year periods. In the wonderful early 1990s, Lukuvka’s jazz musicianship and enthusiasm inspired a bunch of students and helped to create one of the most distinctive grammar school choirs of the time. Besides students, several teachers sung in the choir and made it even more prominent. At the national choral festivals in Brno, the choir would attract attention by their energy. Perhaps that is why it never suffered from a lack of singers – around 1996, the choir had about 60 members, which is almost unimaginable nowadays. Ludva’s arran­gements of jazz and pop songs are remembered to this day by the majority of former members.

Around 1996, the first and legendary generation of graduates left the choir. From 1997 on, Ludva Lukuvka tried to expand the repertoire with other styles. This was partly a result of the clever musical direction of the Brno grammar school choir festival. The choir kept its liveliness while gradually incorporating a strong new generation of singers. Some of the newcomers of that time have become distinct members of the current choir while also fulfilling their solo ambitions.

In 2001, a student of choral conducting at the Pedagogical Faculty in Prague, Čeněk Svoboda, took over the post of choir leader. At the same time, the second generation of graduates from 2001 left, and for a relatively long time the choir sought its new identity. A decrease in the number of music-loving students and the not always wise ambitions of the young choirmaster took their toll. It was as if the history of the choir ran parallel to our post-revolution history. The most difficult years correspond to the time of the Opposition Agreement and the beginning of frustrations with the political elite. In 2003 a new, remarkable generation of singers came, and in a relatively short time the choir matured in terms of quality. In 2005, Čeněk Svoboda was awarded a “Junior Choirmaster” national prize for his work with the choir, and Cum decore ended the five-year period with success at the academic competition IFAS 2006 in Pardubice, and with an anniversary concert and a CD recording.

“This is about love, this is. I’m telling you it because you know what love is. So stop singing it like an advert for a watering can!”

In 2007, the most prominent generation of graduates left. The core of the choir gradually fell apart and the choirmaster started relying more and more on former members. The situation became critical and in the same year an important reorganization in the ensemble took place. The choir was divided into two parts. In one, a new youth choir was created around the old core, numbering around 30 university students. The new Cum decore worked on projects and presented thematic programmes at its concerts. In the course of time, a good team was eventually created from strong individuals. Nevertheless, as early as 2008, the choir again competed successfully in Pardubice against other academic choirs from all over the world. Concurrently, something like a preparatory choir kept functioning at the school according to the previous model. Soon, the choir settled for the nickname Fry, and in September 2008 Zuzana Kubelková, a student of choral conducting at the J. A. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, became its new choirmaster.

Since 2007 a significant change in the choir’s repertoire has gradually been taking shape. Cum decore has started to concentrate on early music, performed Claudio Monteverdi’s ma­drigals in the programme called “Zeffiro Torna”, motets by Johann Sebastian Bach and Heinrich Schütz, psalms by Felix Mendelssohn and other complete works. The choir invites instrumentalists to their concerts who specialize in the authentic interpretation of early music. Besides early music, Cum decore occasionally performs programmes of modern music or spirituals. The choir was greatly successful at the IFAS 2010 festival and won first prize at Harantovské slavnosti 2011, a festival of early music. It has been giving concerts regularly in the Liberec region and in Germany (Görlitz, Zittau, Löbau).

“Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi:
in domum Domini ibimus.
Stantes erant pedes nostri:
in atriis tuis Ierusalem.”