Leading a choir

From the start of the 2024-2025 academic year, the choral conducting class will evolve to offer students a wider range of professional experience and take account of the realities of the field: in the BA and MA programmes, professional choral conducting, in opera houses or as freelancers, baroque choirs, but also amateur choirs and children's choirs.

The students will benefit from a strong teaching team, with a main choral conducting teacher in the person of Denis Rouger and occasional guest speakers in each specific field: Natacha Casagrande for amateur choir conducting, Fruzsina Szuromi for children's choir conducting and Leonardo Garcia Alarcòn for baroque choir conducting. This enhanced training will be based not only on the HEM's own choir workshops, made up of HEM singing students, but also on local partner institutions such as the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the CPMDT and amateur choirs in the region.

The class requires singing and piano skills, along with a wide-ranging musical culture and knowledge of the repertoire. The ability to easily read scores is also necessary, along with linguistic abilities. Beyond these musical qualities, choir directors must also acquire leadership and management qualities (including managing rehearsals).

The training dispensed in the class is centred around the practice of choral direction, supplemented with the acquisition of complementary skills in orchestra direction. In order to acquire specific experience of the profession, the students are given a chance, on top of the individual and group classes, to do an internship at a renowned lyrical institution. 


Celso Antunes Leite

Professor of Chamber Choir - Choral Conducting - Elements of Choral Conducting (for Orchestra Conductors)

Celso Antunes has been conducting the Chamber Choir of the HEM – Geneva since 2011 whilst continuing to work as a choir director at the school. Born in 1959 in São Paulo (Brazil), Celso Antunes studied conducting at the Musikhochschule in Cologne (Germany). From 1994 to 1998, he directed the Neues Rheinisches Kammerorchester in Cologne as well as the Belgian contemporary music ensemble Champ d'Action (1994-1997), which he conducted in numerous world premieres. As an artistic director, he made a decisive contribution to the outstanding development of the National Chamber Choir of Ireland in 2002. From August 2008 to March 2012, he conducted the choir of the Dutch radio Groot Omroepkoor. Between 2012 and 2016, Celso Antunes worked as Associate Chief Conductor with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), Brazil. He also conducts the Camerata Fukuda (Brazil) and teaches choral conducting at the Haute école de musique de Genève. He is also frequently called upon as a conductor or choir director. Flexibility is the key to Antunes' leadership. His extensive repertoire covers Renaissance choral music, 18th and 19th century orchestral music, and contemporary music, of which he is a devoted advocate. This commitment led him to collaborate with various prestigious contemporary ensembles, such as the Nieuw Ensemble and the Ensemble Modern. He is also involved in numerous festivals, such as the Salzburger und Berliner Festspiele, Donaueschinger Musiktage und City of London Festival. Antunes regularly works with some of Europe's leading choirs, including the SWR Stuttgart Vocal Ensemble and the BBC Singers in London. Celso Antunes has recorded for many labels. Among his recordings is the CD Canto a Sevilla (works by Joaquin Turina), nominated for the 2011 Grammy Awards. Learn more about Celso Antunes Leite

Celso Antunes

Departments and associated courses