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The Maîtrise de Toulouse choir

Maîtrise de Toulouse: winner of the 2017 Liliane Bettencourt Choral Singing Prize

The 27th Liliane Bettencourt Choral Singing Prize, open to choir schools and youth choirs, has been awarded to the Maîtrise de Toulouse choir, directed by Mark Opstad.

Created in 2006 at the Toulouse Conservatory, Maîtrise de Toulouse is the leading choir school in southwestern France. It provides children with high-level musical training, combined with a unique life experience. Composed of 50 children and youths, Maîtrise de Toulouse is an artistic vocal ensemble recognized for its excellence.

High-quality and specialized musical training

The diversity of this artistic project allows for a rich training program. Organized at the Toulouse Conservatory, the program includes choral singing, vocal technique, music theory, instrumental training and orchestra practice. During school hours, the students learn to sing a variety of musical repertoires in several languages, working with experts and other ensembles, such as Ensemble Gilles Binchois, the Toulouse Chamber Orchestra, baroque orchestra Les Passions, and brass ensemble Les Sacqueboutiers.

A passion for sharing talent

Maîtrise de Toulouse attaches great importance to sharing talent, using teaching methods that are continually updated and improved, between the choirmaster and his students and also the students themselves. From their elders, the youngest students learn not only musical skills but a team spirit that they in turn teach to new members. This approach creates a warm atmosphere and a shared desire to aim for excellence.

A rich and varied repertoire

In 10 years, the choir has sung works by more than 150 composers from the Renaissance period to the present day. Particular attention is paid to the French repertoire, particularly from the South West. The choir also tackles major choral works, popular young choir pieces, including by English composers, and contemporary music.


Born in 1978, Mark Opstad began his musical education at Bristol Cathedral Choir School. He then studied music at Oxford University, where he was an organist and director of the Chapel College of Balliol College, and at Cambridge University, where he was an organist at Clare College. In 2000, he received the organ prize from the Caen Conservatory and in 2002 from the Royal College of Organists. From 2000 to 2002, he was an organist and assistant to the director of Maîtrise de Caen. As professor of choral music at the Toulouse Conservatory, Mark Opstad created Maîtrise de Toulouse in 2006, becoming its artistic director. He has given more than 100 recitals and made four internationally acclaimed records. Mark Opstad is also a composer and arranger of choral music.


“In creating Maîtrise de Toulouse, I wanted to show that children’s voices can sing at a professional level.”

Mark Opstad, artistic director of the Maîtrise de Toulouse choir school


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