Jury 2023

CantaRode is a music festival and a competition. This means that the program also contains two competition rounds. The participating choirs will be judged by a professional international jury. The jury for the 2023 competition will consist of:

Luc Anthonis, België – chairman of the international jury
Brady R. Allred – USA
Maria Guinand – Venezuela
Reijo Kekkonen – Finland
Ambrož Čopi – Slovenia

Luc Anthonis

Luc Anthonis began his musical career at the Ekeren music academy. He developed a particular fascination for choral music while singing in the youth choir “Carmina” under the direction of Jozef Cleymans.

He studied at the Royal Flemish Music Conservatory in Antwerp and obtained diplomas in flute, chamber music, harmony and choral conducting. In the latter he honed his skills with Eric Ericson, Peter Erdei, Jan Eelkema, Hans Van den Hombergh, Michael Scheck, Simon Halsey and Josef Prats.

In 1980 Luc took over the leadership of the youth choir ‘Cantilene’ and in 1989 he founded the vocal ensemble ‘Cantando’. With this ensemble he performs works by Vic Nees, Erika Budai, Rudi Tas, Frank Agsteribbe and Jan Van der Roost, among others.

He regularly conducts the Flemish Radio Choir with compositions by Lucien Posman, Roland Coryn and Vic Nees, among others. With this choir he works on compositions such as Cendrées (Xenakis), La Transfiguration du Jésus Christ (Messiaen), St. Johns Passion (MacMillan), Requiem (Verdi) and Grosse Messe in c (Mozart).

Since September 2007, he has been professor of choral conducting and coordinator for several departments at the School of Arts in Antwerp. He is currently associated with the Ekeren Academy for, among others, the ‘Symfonisch Ensemble Ekeren’ (founded by him in 1988).

Luc Anthonis is regularly asked as a jury member of national and international choir competitions. He is the representative for Belgium of the World Choir Council.


Brady Allred (USA)

Dr. Brady Allred is in his nineteenth season as artistic director and conductor of the Salt Lake Choral Artists. He has lectured and conducted master classes in 21 countries in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East.

He won the European Grand Prix, two first prizes and the conductor’s prize at the Marktoberdorf International Chamber Choir Competition and many first prizes at competitions in Tolosa, Spain and Arezzo, Italy.

Brady has been a guest conductor of the Schumann Chamber Orchestra in Italy, Wroclaw Philharmonic in Poland, Symphonic Orchestra of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Oslo Voices, Taipei Youth Choir, National Youth Choirs of Sweden, Norway, and Estonia, Tuks Camerata, Akustika Chamber Singers, Gondwana National Choirs of Australia, Rainbow Chamber Singers and Youth Choir of Shanghai, and the Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir.

Under his direction, the Salt Lake Vocal Artists (SLCA’s touring choir) represented the USA at the World Choral Symposium in Argentina (2011) and Barcelona (2017) at the first World Choral Expo in Macau, China (2015) and the Cantemus International Choral Festival in Hungary (2022).

Prior to his appointment as artistic director of SLCA, he was professor of music and director of choral studies at the University of Utah. He also served as music director and conductor of the Butler Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania, director of choral activities at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and artistic director and conductor of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh.

Brady Allred earned his master of music and doctor of musical arts in conducting from the Eastman School of Music and a bachelor’s degree in theory/composition and flute performance from Brigham Young University.

Maria Guinand

María Guinand, choral and orchestral conductor, university professor, educator and leader of choral projects, is currently artistic director of the Schola Cantorum Foundation of Venezuela and the Choir of the Polar Foundation. In her long career, she was associate professor at Simón Bolívar University (1976-2018) (Venezuela) in General Studies and Master of Music. She was also coordinator of choral symphonic projects of El Sistema (1980-2012) and director of the Simón Bolívar Conservatory (1993-1996).

In addition to being artistic director (2003-2017) of the “Música para Crecer” program, she was also president, vice president and advisor for Latin America of the International Federation of Choral Music (1996-2008) (2020-2023). She is a member of the World Choral Council of Interkultur and was a member of the International Music Council (UNESCO) (2002-2005). She received her musical education and conducting training under the tutelage of Alberto Grau and Helmuth Rilling, and Gregorian and sacred music from Luigi Agustoni and Johannes B. Goeschel.

Maria Guinand has won many awards including the “Kulturpreis” (1998), “Robert Edler Preis für Chormusik” (2000), the Helmuth Rilling Award 2009, the Life Achievement Award from the International Federation for Choral Music (FIMC 2019) and the honorary doctorate from the Metropolitan University, Caracas, Venezuela (2020).

She is regularly invited as director and teacher to give choral programs and master classes in the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia and to serve on international juries.

She collaborates with various choral institutions around the world such as FIMC (International Federation for Choral Music); ACDA (American Choral Directors Association); Choir America; NCCO (National Collegiate Choral Organization) (USA); Europe Cantat; America Cantat; Japan Choral Federation; Chinese Choral Federation; FCEC (Federació Catalana D’Éntitats Chorales); A Couer Joie, among others.

She has been invited to lead prestigious choral groups such as the Belgian Radio Choir, World Youth Choir, Gaechinger Kantorei, Youth Choir of the European MusiFest Festival ensemble, Junges Vokalensembles Hannover, Pro-choir Canada, Houston Chamber Choir, Japan National Youth Choir , National Choir of Spain, Choir of the RTVE (Spain), the Symphonic Choir of the OSESP (Brazil), among many others. She is editor of Latin American Choral Music for the publishers Earthsongs (USA) and Carus-Verlag (Germany).

During this year 2020, she was Artist in Residence (Choral Singing) at Florida International University (FIU, USA). In 2022 she was guest conductor of the Houston Chamber Choir (USA), Cantiga (Barcelona, Spain) and the Youth Choir Sinera (Sounds and Colors of the Caribbean) and with the Idaho (ACDA) Youth Choir.

Reijo Kekkonen

Reijo was born in 1961 and graduated as a music teacher from Sibelius Academy (Helsinki). He studied composition with Vladimir Agopov and Tapani Länsiö and choral conducting with Matti Hyökki and Erkki Pullinen. He currently works as director of the publishing house SULASOL and is involved in publishing activities around the world. His output as a composer consists mainly of vocal music; both choral and solo songs and chamber music.

Reijo Kekkonen has conducted mainly youth, school and women’s choirs and has given many international workshops on choral music. Much of his oeuvre as a composer and arranger includes works for choirs. Kekkonen is also a professional singer whose career includes the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and the Sibelius Academy Vocal Ensemble.

Reijo Kekkonen has held several positions of trust in various associations in Finland. He is also a member of the planning committee of the Nordic-Baltic Choral Festival 1996-2008, a member of the artistic committee of the Tampere Vocal Music Festival since 1997 and a member of the organizing committee of the Harald Andersén international choral competition at Sibelius Academy 2001-2018.

Kekkonen was a member of the board of the International Federation for Choral Music 2002-2008 and a member of the board of the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat 2009-2018. In 2002-2014 he acted as “watcher” for the international choral show-case Polyfollia in St.Lô, France. Kekkonen has also been a member of several juries of composition and arranging and choral competitions.

Ambrož Čopi

Ambrož Čopi studied composition with Dane Škerl and Uroš Roko at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana. He received the Young Musician Award (1995) and the Prešeren Prize of the University of Ljubljana (1997), for his outstanding achievements during his studies. He gained knowledge of vocal music and conducting as an assistant to conductor Stojan Kuret.

Ambrož conducted several Slovenian choirs including the chamber choir Nova Gorica, the mixed choir Obala and the Academic Choir of the University of Primorska. With them he won fifteen gold plaques at various national competitions and twenty-six first places, as well as several gold plaques at competitions abroad.

He performed as a finalist at the European Grand Prix in Choral Singing in Tours (France, 2009) with the Academic Choir of the University of Primorska. Furthermore, he received several special awards for his interpretations, a number of awards for exceptional performances with the choirs and was also voted best conductor at numerous competitions.

In 2014, he was awarded the Gallus Medal, the highest award for musical activity at the national level in Slovenia. In 2016, he received Škerjanc recognition from the Conservatory of Music and Ballet Ljubljana for his outstanding artistic achievements with the chamber choir of the Conservatory of Music and Ballet Ljubljana and its promotion.

In the same year he received a prestigious national award, the Preseren Fund Prize, for outstanding achievements in the past two years.

Ambrož Čopi is a teacher at the Art Grammar School in Koper, at the Conservatory of Music and Ballet Ljubljana and associate professor at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana. He is regularly invited to act as a jury member at various choral events and competitions and is often involved as a lecturer at choral music seminars at home and abroad.