The female chamber choir Usmev was formed from the former members of the children’s and girls’ choir Usmev, which was among the most successful children’s choirs in Slovakia in the 1980s-1990s. The journey of the new adult women’s choir Usmev began in 2016 . Since then the choir has been meeting regularly for rehearsals and sharing the joy of singing with other choral song lovers through performances in Slovakia and in other European countries. The choir’s greatest successes in its recent history include a golden diploma with a bronze medal in the Folk Song category of the Rimini International Choir Competition 2019 in Italy and a gold award and absolute winner’s title in the Slovak national choir competition “Viva il canto” in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
Usmev’s repertoire includes both sacred and secular music from baroque to contemporary pieces, while a special section is dedicated to choral arrangements of traditional Slovak folk songs. The choir has 20 active members including 2 conductors – Anezka Balušinská and Daniela Januchová.
Anezka Balušinská and Daniela Januchová – conductors
Anežka Balušinská is a conductor and member of the choir. Since 1980 she has worked as a teacher of solo singing and as a vocal coach with several choirs in the Prievidza region, Slovakia. In 1989 she became conductor of the children’s choir Usmev and led this choir until 2011.
She was awarded several times by the national authorities of Slovakia for her contribution to children’s and youth choir singing. When the choir was reconstituted as a women’s choir in 2017, she continued to serve as the choir’s conductor and vocal coach. Anezka serves on the Slovak National Advisory Council for Choral Singing, teaches solo singing and is the conductor of children’s choir Barborky and a mixed chamber choir Artanno in Handlova, Slovakia.
Daniela Januchová started playing the piano at age 6 and sang in the children’s choir Úsmev at age 10. She was also a member of the Úsmev girls’ choir, the Rozkvet mixed choir and other singing groups and choirs in Prievidza, Bratislava and Žilina. After graduating from Comenius University in Bratislava, where she studied musicology, she taught music history at the conservatory and at the University of Žilina. She currently teaches music at an elementary school and at the same time is actively involved as second conductor of the women’s choir.