The Cantemus Children’s Choir (founded in 1975 by Dénes Szabó) is the multi international prize winning senior pupils’ choir of the Kodály Zoltán Primary School in Nyiregyháza, Hungary. Since its formation in 1975 the choir has achieved the highest of standards in choral performance and has travelled extensively to give concerts, compete, and take part in festivals in countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world – including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, South America and the United States of America.
The successes of the choir are founded on the principles of the Kodály music teaching method implemented under the leadership of Dénes Szabó, who teaches music to children in the senior years at the school, conducts and directs the choir and is the Director of the Cantemus Choral Institute.
The choir’s extensive repertoire is focussed on the the beauty of choral music – ranging from Gregorian chant through the Renaissance and Romantic periods to contemporary works. Some of the Hungarian repertoire is based on traditional folk music – including works by Bartók and Kodály – and some have been written especially with the choir in mind by leading contemporary Hungarian composers. As such the choir has become a standard bearer for both traditional and contemporary Hungarian music.
Dénes Szabó was born in Makó in 1947 and is an outstanding figure in Hungarian and international choral life. He studied music in Szeged, Miskolc and Budapest and subsequently began his teaching career at the Zoltán Kodály Primary School in Nyíregyháza. He founded the Cantemus Children’s Choir in 1975. This has since grown into a choral institute and began to operate as an independent artistic organisation under his direction in 2004 with three choirs – the Cantemus Children’s Choir, the Pro Musica Girls’ Choir and the Cantemus Mixed Voice Choir. These choirs all perform at world–class standard.
He is highly sought after as a choral conductor and lecturer in music education at international festivals and conferences. He regularly holds masterclasses in choral conducting, choral voice production and the implementation of the Kodály method. He has also been a member of the judging panels for several leading international choir competitions in the USA, Slovenia, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Belgium.
In appreciation of his artistic achievements and dedicated work in music education he was awarded the Ferenc Liszt prize in 1985, the Bartók Béla – Pásztory Ditta Prize in 1993, the Kossuth Prize in 2000 , the Hungarian Cultural Heritage prize in 2004 and the IFCM Life Achievement Award in 2013 . He has been a member of the Hungarian Arts Academy since 2012.
In 2014 he was awarded the „Artist of the Nation” title.