Gloucester Choristers in Berlin!

Gloucester Cathedral’s boy and girl choristers have just returned from a terrific few days in Berlin. They were part of a massed international choir performing with the Philharmonie as part of its Vocal Heroes Project.

Nia Llewelyn Jones, the Cathedral’s Singing Development Leader says: “Not many children can say that they have sung on the stage of the Philharmonie, alongside what many would consider the best orchestra in the world, with a massed international choir of over 500 singers and the composers of both pieces present…But, our choristers can!  This was an outstanding experience for our children to sing in a very different setting to that which they are used to.”

The Vocal Heroes programme started in October 2013 and uses a variety of venues for choir rehearsals in and around Berlin.  It promotes local partnerships and neighbourly coexistence in addition to arts education and equal opportunities. The main focus is on musical encounters between the musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the vocal heroes in joint projects.  Its Artistic Director is Simon Halsey.

A moving performance

May’s concert programme included Jonathan Dove’s There was a child and extracts from Nico Muhly’s compositions for Friday Afternoons.  Both composers were present providing a fantastic opportunity for the choristers to work with them.

Nia adds: “The concert was wonderful.  The final movement of Jonathan Dove’s There was a child weaves together many themes in the choral and orchestral parts, leading to a dramatic climax.  At the core of this were our own choristers in the front row, singing their hearts out.  I felt moved and very proud.  This was clearly a sentiment shared by the children – many of them were in tears, overcome by the occasion and the joy of being a part of such a performance.”

You can use this link to hear some of the concert

….and time ‘to let off steam’

Another bonus for Nia was being able to spend time with the choristers and get to know them better in a different setting. “We did have a few opportunities to ‘let off steam’, including a trip to the beautiful Tiergarten Park, where the children played and even built a den in the woods.

It was lovely to see the children interact with each other, and especially to see the way in which the older children helped and supported the younger ones.   I feel that everyone bonded; the atmosphere was positive and friendly throughout.” 

Anne Haas, Head of the Junior School King’s School Gloucester, and part of the chaperone team comments: “There were so many highlights! It was lovely to have both girls and boys and to witness their positive and professional attitude towards such a demanding rehearsal schedule.  They were great and for some it was the ‘best thing’ that had happened in their life!”