Ulmer Spatzen

‘Spatz’ is the German word for ‘sparrow’, the symbol of the city of Ulm, so ‘Ulmer Spatzen’ can be translated ‘sparrows of Ulm’.

The choir was founded in 1958 and has been led by Hans de Gilde since 1998. The youth choir, on tour in the UK in September 2010, are one of the Spatzen’s five different choirs. Today, 180 children and teenagers sing in the two training choirs (for boys and girls), the children’s choir (for girls), the youth choir (also for girls), and a mixed chamber choir, ‘Les Passerelles’.

The Spatzen have become famous in Germany as a result of their many recordings and appearances on radio and television. Performances across the world have made a name for the choir in the USA, South Africa, Japan, Russia and many European countries. The high quality of its sound is developed and maintained though intensive voice training for all members. This has led, not only to the choir’s success in national and international competitions, but to regional and national awards for individual members as soloists.

The choir sings a wide repertoire, ranging from folk songs, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music, to contemporary pieces and arrangements of pop songs. Many contemporary composers have dedicated music to the Ulmer Spatzen (including Wilfried Hiller, Rolf Rudin, Christian Ridil, Albrecht Gürsching and Peter Planyavsky).

The Ulmer Spatzen is funded by the Society of Parents, the Circle of Friends, and is affiliated to the Music School of the city of Ulm.

Recent Prizes

2001 Choir Competition Baden-Württemberg "Jugend singt" (1st prize in both the children’s choir and girls’ choir categories)
2001 Regional winner for Baden-Württemberg at the German Choir Contest
2002 National winner at the German Choir Contest in Osnabrück
2004 European Music festival in Neerpelt, Belgium(1st prize, cum laude)
2009 Special recognition and support from the Trust for Culture of Baden-Württemberg
2009 Regional Choir Competition in Talheim (1st prize in both the children’s choir and girls’ choir categories)
2009 Regional winner for Baden-Württemberg at the German Choir Contest in Dortmund
2010 Second prize in the 8th national German Choir Contest


Hans de Gilde (conductor)

Hans de Gilde began his musical career as a choirboy at the cathedral of Utrecht in the Netherlands. After studying sacred music and solo singing, he became a leader of the cathedral choir and later musical leader of the associated choir school. He has also held a number of positions in other countries, including conductor at a boys’ choir school on the Cote d’Azure (Grasse). From 1993 to 1996 he served he served as ‘Chef de Choeur’ and ‘Directeur des Etudes Musicales’ at the National Opera of Lyon. There he worked with many conductors of renown including William Christie, Jeffrey Tate, Charles Dutoit and Kent Nagano. During this time, he was also responsible for the festival of Aix-en-Provence. In 1996 and 1997, he conducted Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel at the Opéra de Bastille-Paris, at the National Opera of Lyon and in Nimes. Hans de Gilde performs regularly as a guest conductor at home and abroad, and leads courses on voice training and choral conducting. Since 1998, he has been the leader of the children’s and youth choirs of the Ulmer Spatzen and has been responsible for singing tuition at the music school of the city of Ulm.

Barbara Comes (accompanist)

Barbara Comes studied sacred music at the ‘Staatliche Hochschule für Musik’ in Stuttgart, where she specialised in organ, piano, solo singing and choral conducting. She is a lecturer at the Berufsakademie Stuttgart where she trains church musicians for the Lutheran church. She has also worked as a voice trainer and choral conductor at the Opéra de Lyon. Since 1999, she has conducted the training choirs of the Ulmer Spatzen. Barbara Comes is married with four children.

The city of Ulm

Ulm lies on the River Danube in southern Germany, between Stuttgart and Munich and was the birthplace, in 1879, of Albert Einstein. One hundred and twenty five thousand people live in Ulm, and a further fifty thousand in the neighbouring Bavarian town of Neu-Ulm. The town is first documented in 854 AD. Ulm´s Gothic Münster (built from 1377 to 1890) is the biggest parish church in Germany. At 161 metres, the Münster’s tower is the highest church tower in the world.

The city also has musical claims to fame; it was in Ulm’s theatre that Herbert von Karajan began his career as a conductor. Today, the town has a rich cultural life with theatre, opera, ballet and a lively music scene.