The Belgian town of Aarschot is not a place one would call ‘cool’. It has only 15,000 inhabitants and, until recently, nothing at all special happened over there.
A few years ago the Kolacny brothers, Steven and Stijn, came back to the town after having graduated from the conservatory. They didn’t really like teaching music, but they wanted to “do something creative”. So they decided to found Scala, a choir for girls.
Scala was a classical choir, with a long-established repertoire and very little to offer. At first the idea didn’t work out; only 18 girls without much interest turned up, and they did so because there wasn’t anything else to do in town.
With the passing months, the girls’ motivation didn’t grow. Stijn put it down to his lack of abilities (choir direction was the only examination he failed at the conservatory), but Steven realized that the secret was in the repertoire.
“We could use pop music”, he thought. Robbie Williams, Madonna… they tried but it was a disaster. The angelical voices of the girls didn’t add much to the shallowness of those songs. Steve didn’t give up and one day inspiration came to him. “I was listening to Radiohead when I realized that what we had to look for those type of songs, sad and profound, typical of indie-rock bands. If we wanted to bridge classical and modern music it had to be done giving a new dimension to these songs.
Muse, Bjork, Damien Rice, Massive Attack… The girls got excited. They were no longer singing for the town choir, they were now part of an “indie-rock” project. Shortly after, they won the national award for Choir of the Year. It was just the beginning.
In 2010 the brothers received an email from Hollywood. A director wanted to use one of their songs for his film trailer. ‘It must be a joke’, they thought, ‘Or one of those cheap independent movies’.
It wasn’t. The director was David Fincher and the film, The Social Network. The trailer featured the choir’s version of a Radiohead song and after a few days 25 million people had seen the video of the girls in YouTube.
It was a boom. Suddenly the brothers were receiving offers from Warner, invitations to sing at American shows… the wonderful show Downton Abbey chose their version of a song from The Police for their promotional clip. Directing an indie-rock choir had turned into the utmost groundbreaking work. And the girls from Aarschot were no longer ordinary girls. They were stars.
And their success continues.
If your child (or student) has a talent, you are obliged to find the way of making sure he/she never loses the passion for developing it. Don’t give up until you find the key for them to face long hours of practice with enthusiasm and motivation. And if they have a passion that makes them happy, make sure no one puts a limit on them. Stijn’s choir professor, who failed his examination, must be mortified.