FRANCE

“It must be colossal work, as well as patience and determination to attain this perfection”
Classiquenews.com, December 2016

“These young choristers are absorbed in the music.  They are happy to sing.  That can be seen on their faces.  And it can clearly be heard.”
Resmusica, December 2016

“The revelation of the Maîtrise world these last years”
5 diapasons
Diapason Magazine (France), December 2015 for the CD ‘Noël français’

“The Ensemble Gilles Binchois and the stunning Maîtrise de Toulouse bring to this music a style of simple and generous devotion…”
Diapason Découverte
Diapason magazine (France), May2015 for the CD ‘Polyphonies oubliées’

“The remarkable work on the diction of the polyphonic plainchant by the singers, both flexible and clear, always following the rhythm of the sung text, makes this disc a beautiful success.”
Four stars
Classica magazine (France), March 2015 for the CD ‘Polyphonies oubliées’

“Can a French Conservatoire Maîtrise compete with the English collegiate and cathedral choirs in the music of Fauré and Britten?  The proof that yes, with this first disc of the Maîtrise created in 2006 at the Toulouse Conservatoire by Englishman Mark Opstad…

…there is a beautiful balance between a search for a typically English lightness and finesse in the high range and a fruity roundness of timbres which comes from elsewhere.  These qualities, added to others (stability of vocal emission, animated and structured singing with a coherent pallet of dynamics, musicality) enchant us …

…Decidedly at ease in the British repertoire, the toulousains give a very beautiful version of the Britten Missa Brevis, quite flamboyant and virtuosic…

…This conductor and this choir should be followed, as they show that the renaissance of French maîtrises initiated a quarter of a century ago in France has not had its last word.”
Five Diapasons
Diapason Magazine (France), September 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“One can leave a mark on a town in different ways.  A political event, or economic or personal.  Friday evening, it was a cultural event that left a profound mark on Pamiers: the performance of Fauré’s Requiem by the Maîtrise de Toulouse.

Friday evening, under the direction of Mark Opstad, the Maîtrise of the Toulouse Conservatoire signed a masterpiece.

Friday evening, if Gabriel Fauré, eternally alive, received some echos of this concert, he will certainly have been able to continue to rest in peace, in the gentleness of his Requiem.”
La Dépêche du Midi, octobre 2012 for a concert at the festival Gabriel Fauré

 

INTERNATIONAL

“I’d be happy to recommend this just for the rarity of some of the repertoire, but this choir is wonderful and deserves the accolades showered on it… they display a freshness and rhythmic alacrity that is uncommon. They have been well coached in their diction as well. Opstad is a gem among choral conductors and inspires his young forces to give performances that many of their adult peers would do well to emulate.”
American Record Guide (USA), March 2018

“These young voices bring a delightful freshness to this demanding repertoire”
Five Stars
Choir and Organ Magazine (UK), March 2018

“Mark Opstad is to be most warmly congratulated on achieving such very high standards of performance with his young voices. Not once did they sound under pressure – immaculate tuning and ensemble, all taken as a norm. A thoroughly engaging and uplifting recording in every way. If I could give this six stars, I would!”
Organists’ Review (UK), March 2018

“This choir school, created in 2006, gives an irresistible Gallic Christmas programme…. With beautifully blended and precisely pitched singing, the group excels in Poulenc’s Four Christmas Motets…”
‘The week’s essential new releases’
Sunday Times (UK), 13 December 2015

“The results are highly impressive in this delectable programme of French Christmas music… An utter pleasure”
Four stars
BBC Music Magazine (UK), December 2015 for the CD ‘Noël français’

“A wide-ranging programme, sung with gleaming freshness of tone and intonation.”
Four stars
BBC Music Magazine (UK), September 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“…the disc feels as if it has been crafted with infinite care and love, and for that reason alone it is a joy to listen to ”
Gramophone Magazine (UK), September 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“ From the outset we realise that we are in the hands of fearless and confident young musicians who live and love every note. Totally unfazed by difficult complex writing … they give it their all.  It’s a delight, and a very pleasant surprise, to hear them with their stylish approach…

… let us not forget Mark Opstad, without whose vision and expertise none of this would be possible.  Congratulations to all concerned…  I cannot recommend this thrilling CD strongly enough! ”
Organist’s Review (UK), September 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“As French choral musicians, the youngsters are heirs to a proud tradition, which they recount with propriety, understanding and flare.

…the music is delivered with clarity, verve and exemplary control”
American Record Guide (USA), July 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“Every track is a delight”
Choir and Organ (UK), July 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“To judge from the rock-solid intonation, crispness of articulation, scrupulous attention de balance, confident solo work, and much else besides, Mark Opstad knows a thing or two about choral conducting…

All in all, then, this is a highly successful follow-up to the previous release, and it is crowned by a brilliant performance of Poulenc’s Litany to the Black Virgin of Rocamadour… I am tempted to say the disc is worth airing for this track alone, but actually it is worth acquiring for everything it contains.”
International Record Review (UK), May 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“Singing throughout the CD is crisp, clean and is perfectly balanced with the accompanying instruments….

“I thoroughly enjoyed the musical journey presented on the CD.”
Sydney Organ journal (Australia), Spring 2014 for the CD ‘Motets français’

“… a  French  “Maîtrise” (choir school) ensemble that’s as good as just about any of the finest English cathedral choirs, singing a choice assortment of English and French Missa Brevis settings to absolute, ravishing treble perfection.

…  There’s probably nothing this choir couldn’t sing, and spectacularly well.  They deliver clean, crisp singing, with perfect intonation and balance.  They achieve standards of phrasing, dynamics and interpretive intensity that many fine adult ensembles would kill for.”
Amercian Record Guide (USA), July / August 2012 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’
And ‘Critic’s Choice’ for 2012 (American Record Guide (USA), January 2013)

“…This is an enjoyable recording and an excellent display of works for upper voices…”
(five star review)
The Organ, (UK) Summer 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“…  this mixed boy-girl French choir makes a vigorous, refreshing sound on its debut CD…

…The French are coming.  Up till now they’ve produced great music, beautiful organs and brilliant organists.  Now here’s the (English trained) choir to match.”
four star review
Classic FM magazine (UK), April 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“…these choristers make light work of this fascinating programme…

…Caplet’s three-voiced Mass for unaccompanied voices is impressive, both as a composition and for the performance Opstad elicits from his youthful performers.”
four star review
Choir and Organ magazine (UK), March 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“The mixed-gender group of 21 singers recorded here is blessed with a fresh, clear, unaffected tone, blending effortlessly, especially in Caplet’s unaccompanied three voice Mass, with its soaring, arched phrases, which float beautifully in the spacious acoustics of Toulouse’s neo-GothicTemple du Salin…

…As part of a recent resurgence of interest in youth choral singing across France, this timely disc serves as an important and worthwhile stepping stone.”
Gramophone Magazine (UK), March 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“The singing is assured, clear and well blended. Indeed, the choir might be mistaken for an English cathedral choir…”
Recommended recording
Church Music Quarterly, Royal School of Church Music (UK), March 2011 for the CD ‘Missa Brevis’

“Following their visit to Tauste, where the choir gave the closing concert of the Cincos Villas music festival, the Maîtrise de Toulouse gave a concert at the church of San Felipe, Saragosse.  The twenty one choristers, aged betwwen eleven and fifteen, make up a choir whose technical quality and sensibility are extraordinary…

This is a vocal group of the most rigorous discipline who, during their visit to Saragosse showed the fruits of this intense work, strict and efficiant, to which these young choristers submit themselves…

The repertoire is in no way childlike, but sung to perfection with seriousness.  Young choristers committed and attentive to the orders of their conductor who can take pride in the ensemble he has managed to create.”
Heraldo de Aràgon (Espagne), octobre 2010   for a concert in Saragosse