Soprano Anja Pöche joined the a capella ensemble Calmus as soprano in 2001, marking the group’s transition from an all-male to a mixed ensemble. Anja Pöche (née Lipfert) was born in Leipzig, Germany. At the age of six she started her musical career, including piano lessons, and she became a member of the MDR Kinderchor (children’s choir of the local broadcaster) where she stayed until 1997.
In 2003 she was among the prize winners of the national competition “Jugend Musiziert” (youth makes music) in the section ‘duet: voice and piano.’ Also in 2003 Anja began studying vocal studies at the ‘Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy’ in Leipzig as pupil of Adelheid Vogel. After successful completion of her studies she received her diploma in January 2010. Besides her involvement with Calmus, Anja regularly performs as a solo singer in oratorio and cantata concerts throughout Germany, Ireland, Great Britain and Switzerland. A particular emphasis of her repertoire is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries.
The German Mezzo-soprano, Maria Kalmbach (b. 1989) first studied Music Education and German before transferring to Vocal Studies with Holger Speck at the Conservatory of Music, Karlsruhe, where she graduated at the top of her class. She continued her education with Angelika Luz at the Conservatory of Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart. Of considerable influence were masterclasses with Kammersängerin Brigitte Fassbaender, Ralf Gothóni, Anne Le Bozec, Helmut Lachenmann and Dieter Schnebel.
She places her artistic emphasis on ensemble singing, drawing on a broad repertoire gained in diverse choruses and ensembles (among others, the MDR Radio Choir, the NDR Radio Choir, Chamber Choir Stuttgart, Vocalensemble Rastatt and the Zurich Singakademie). She has performed in various concerts in the Elbphilharmonie, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig und die Liederhalle, Stuttgart. Among the conductors with whom she has worked stand Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Mario Venzago, Jonathan Nott, Frieder Bernius and Marek Janowski.
She is also active as a vocal soloist domestically and abroad. In Prague, July 2016, she soloed in Dvorak’s Mass in D Major, and 2015 in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in Bern with the Bern Symphony, and at the MDR Summer Music Festival with the Radio Choir in September 2019.
She appears on studio and live recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, SWR, MDR and Deutschland Radio.
Friedrich Bracks received his first singing education as a child at the boys choir Windsbacher Knabenchor, where he already sang as a soloist at that time. Afterwards, he studied acting with Suzanne Geyer in Munich, and continued his education at the two acting schools “The New Collective LA” and “TVI Actors Studios” in Los Angeles, USA.
During his time in Munich, he also studied singing with Ingrid Bettag and Peter Pöppel. In 2018, he participated in the “vielklang” masterclass and in 2019, in the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart as a soloist.
Besides his singing career, Friedrich has worked as a stage actor as well as a videomaker at the radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Focussing on his singing career, he specialized in early music, which led him to perform as “Evangelist” at the Stuttgarter Bach Festival conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann.
Friedrich has been working with numerous ensembles such as Kammerchor Stuttgart, Gaechinger Cantorey, Zürcher Sing-Akademie and the belgian soloist ensemble Vox Luminis on national and international stages. He was artistic director at the a cappella men's ensemble Ensemble miXtur. Starting in March 2020, Friedrich is the new tenor of the Calmus Ensemble.
Ludwig Böhme loves vocal music – as a singer, a conductor, a lecturer or an arranger, and he is a founding member of Calmus. Born in 1979, he was a member of the St Thomas’ Boys Choir in Leipzig. He studied choral conducting with Georg Christoph Biller at the Academy for Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy”, Leipzig. Until 2002 he worked as the assistant of the Director of Music of St Thomas’.
When he is not busy with Calmus, he works as the conductor of the Leipzig chamber choir “Josquin des Préz,” which focuses primarily on the music of the Renaissance but whose repertoire does also include later periods. Though basically an a cappella ensemble, there is regular cooperation with baroque orchestras – in concerts, radio- and CD productions. In 2010 the chamber choir “Josquin des Préz” won the second price of the German Choir Competition.
From 2004 Ludwig Böhme has been instigating, as its artistic director, the concert series “Josquin – the Project,” the first complete performance of the latter’s entire oeuvre in St Thomas Church, Leipzig.
Ludwig Böhme leads workshops for vocal ensembles and choirs and is Lecturer for Conducting at the Protestant Academy for Church Music in Halle/Saale. He has also achieved success as an arranger and a composer (Contemporary A cappella Recording Award 2004).
Born in 1988, Manuel Helmeke started his musical career as a young boy at the local children's choir of his congregation. In addition to this he took lessons at the local music school in piano, organ and singing.
In 2008 the young bassist was prize winner of the national music competition “Jugend Musiziert” for young adults. This success encouraged Manuel to start studying singing. He studied with Prof. Berthold Schmid and KS Prof. Roland Schubert at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig and graduaded in 2014 with a diploma both in singing as well as in music education.
Meanwhile he has had various engagements as a soloist, where he performed with famous ensembles such as the Thomanerchor Leipzig, MDR radio choir as well as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. In addition to this he took part in CD productions with the Leipziger Gewandhaus as well as in radio broadcastings with Deutschlandradio Kultur and the MDR.
Manuel is also passionate about conducting his initiated choir projects. From 2012 - 2014 he discovered his preference for ensemble music as part of the award-winning Ensemble Thios Omilos. At the beginning of 2015 he joined Calmus as the bass singer.
Elisabeth was born into a musical family, took violin lessons at the Heinrich Schütz Conservatory in Dresden from an early age and was a member of various choirs, including the children's choir of the Landesbühnen Sachsen. At the age of 15 she received her first singing lessons with Ulrike Feilhaber in Dresden.
With her studies in Leipzig, the speech, language and voice therapist began her long-term membership in such renowned ensembles as the Johann Rosenmüller Ensemble (Arno Paduch), the Sächsisches Vocalensemble e.V. (Matthias Jung), the Collegium Vocale Leipzig (Michael Schönheit), the Bachconsort Leipzig (Thomaskantor i.R. Gotthold Schwarz) and the Gaechinger Cantorey Stuttgart. Concert tours with these ensembles have taken her not only to other European countries but also to Japan and Central America.
Elisabeth performs as a soloist mainly in the context of church music in Central Germany. Collaborations with conductors such as Gotthold Schwarz, Matthias Jung, Gregor Meyer, Michael Schönheit and Hans-Christoph Rademann provide important impulses for her musical development and continually awaken her interest and passion for old and new music.
She gained further musical impulses through guest engagements with the renowned vocal ensembles amarcord and Ælbgut. She also regularly substitutes as first soprano of the Leipzig vocal sextet Sjaella.
Her musical activities are characterized by great attention to detail, striving for precision and musical understanding. Elisabeth's vocal coaching is in the competent hands of Gesine Adler.
From September 1st, 2022, Elisabeth will be the soprano of Calmus.
Jonathan Saretz was born in Torgau in 1995. His parents - both church musicians - influenced him musically from an early age. At the age of nine, he took trumpet lessons with Wilfried Thoß at the Torgau Music School and later at the Music School in Leipzig. There he also gained his first orchestral experience in the youth symphony orchestra and in various brass ensembles. After many years of choir experience in Torgau, he dedicated himself to singing at the age of 17 and took lessons with Prof. Elvira Dreßen in Leipzig for two years. Jonathan has won several national prizes in the Jugend Musiziert competition, both on the trumpet and in singing.
After graduating from high school, Jonathan first studied media technology at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf (specialising in audio and multimedia). During his studies he gained practical experience in cultural management - for example at the KLANGVOKAL music festival in Dortmund, in the press department of the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and in the media team of the Tonhalle Düsseldorf.
He then worked for several years as a cultural manager for various professional festivals and ensembles (including the E-MEX Ensemble for Modern Music) and supervised several choirs and ensembles in management and press and public relations.
Since 2017, he has received lessons from Mateusz Kabala, opera singer at the Aalto Theater Essen. There Jonathan sang in the extra choir since the 15/16 season and later also as a choir temp at Theater Dortmund. Jonathan received further impulses in choral and ensemble singing in the Landesjugendchor NRW, the vocal ensemble of the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf, in the Audi Jugendchorakademie and with Chorwerk Ruhr. Engagements for Bach's St. John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio and cantatas, the requiems by Mozart and Duruflé, among others, also distinguish him as a soloist.
Jonathan will be the new baritone at Calmus beginning in September 2022.
Michael B. Gernert
Growing up singing and making music with the whole family, Michael Gernert (*1993) presented his musical talent very early on. He received his first piano lessons at the age of six, singing lessons at seven and violin lessons at thirteen.
As a member of the Windsbach Boys’ Choir he received extensive musical training. Within ten years he took part in more than 650 concerts and toured China and South America among other countries. In Würzburg he first studied singing in pre-college with Professors Bürgener and Hummel at the University of Music and joined several student and chamber choirs. Later, he switched to studying comparative linguistics with Spanish as an additional major at the University of Würzburg. He then spent a year and a half in Mexico City and was very active in the choral scene there.
Michael toured southern France and Portugal with the World Youth Choir in 2019 as well as Slovenia with the EuroChoir in 2021, participating in the Europa Cantat festival. He has sung with renowned choirs such as Kammerchor Stuttgart, Chamber Choir of Europe and World Choir for Peace.
Beginning in September 2022, Michael will be the bass of the Calmus Ensemble.