YL Male Voice choir is one of the best choirs in the world. I’ve had the honor of singing with them for more than ten years. Here are some recent tour clothes that I designed for them.
Babij Jar Mexico 2011
Babi Yar is the Shostakovitch’s symphony with Yevgeni Yevtushenkos lyrics, describing a massacre of jews in Ukraine by nazi Germany during World War 2.
Unlike the legend of Kullervo, this was a real incident with real victims. With no true connection to the tragedy, I felt insufficient and out of place just to even try to describe these events. I ended up setting the name in Russian (performing language of the piece) in heavy block type, with a bleeding effect from underneath. I do feel I managed to describe the massacre with respect for the victims and without turning a tragedy into gore and splatter.
Despite my inhibitions, the choir seemed less worried to find more practical uses for this garment: White and black shirts are for tenors and basses. Since singers like to play football and floorball, colors signify the teams.
China tour 2011
In May, YL had 9 concerts in major chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Nanking.
The garment for Chinese tour is a retro style olympic tracksuit top with the choir’s name arching across the back.
The badge has the choir’s name in english and chinese. The character is a singing panda dressed in a tailcoat.
This is very different – a kid gloves even – approach emphasizing everlasting friendship between China and Finland in culture.
As the concert program is a international smorgasboard of pan-european and chinese songs rather than something built on a one particular piece. When there is little common ground, no touchy subjects are brought up.
Kullervo Belgium & USA 2010
In Finnish national epic Kalevala, Kullervo is a tragic hero who ends up throwing himself upon his own sword. Hence the blood. The back of the shirt is a list of concert venues in a classic band-shirt style. Note the Carnegie Hall as the final concert. It was spectacular!