Choir to represent the UK

Choir to represent the UK

Friday 24 Oct 2014

Hereford Cathedral School’s Senior Chamber Choir has been selected to represent the United Kingdom – the only UK choir to do so - and join with 38 other top choirs from 18 countries around the world in a world premiere of a new commission by Krzysztof Penderecki. The new work will be performed as part of the ‘Thousand Voices for Peace’ concert in the International Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Koekelberg Basilica) in Brussels which is reputedly the third largest Basilica in the world. The performance takes place on Sunday 9 November 2014.

The homage for peace concert, produced by Flanders Festival Brussels, will witness more than 1500 professional and non-professional singers, together with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, coming together from countries that were involved in the First World War a hundred years ago. Participating countries will include Canada, Germany, Luxemburg, Belgium, Ireland, The United Kingdom (Hereford Cathedral School), The Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Malta, India, Thailand and Australia.

As part of the build-up to the final concert in Koekelberg Basilica on Sunday 9 November 2014, there will be 17 joint concerts in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels between Wednesday 5 November and Friday 7 November 2014 commemorating WW1. Hereford Cathedral School’s Senior Chamber Choir, representing the UK, will also perform on Wednesday 5 November in ‘Zele meets the United Kingdom’ with Makelbiljde in Sint-Ludgeruskerk, Zele at 8pm (this joint-concert is supported by the province of Oost-Vlaanderen, the city of Zele, the Embassy of the United Kingdom & Northern Ireland and Eurostar). The choir will be resident in Ghent from 4th to 7th November where the School’s Director of Music will be directing joint rehearsals with many of the international choirs, and from where the choir will also travel to perform in Ypres. From 7th November the choir will be resident in Brussels where it will be rehearsing and performing in the Basilica as well as leading a service in another city church.

The monumental ‘Thousand Voices for Peace’ concert is under the direction of Estonian conductor Andres Mustonen, and will include music by the top Chinese composer Tan Dun, the young and promising Norwegian Ola Gjeilo, the Russian grand dame Sofia Gubaidulina and the Belgium Andre Devaere (a musician and composer who fell in battle in 1914). The music will be alternated with universal poems and diary excerpts from the First World War, and will witness the world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki’s ‘Dies Illa’. There will be a live connection to the International Space Station, with the audience and musicians receiving a message of peace from the German astronaut Alexander Gerst.

The concert is patronised by Herman Van Rompuy – President of the European Council and former Belgium Prime Minister.

Paul Smith, Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School said,

“It is an honour for our School to represent the United Kingdom at such a prestigious international concert. It is also particularly poignant for our school community: at this time of year we always remember that over 400 former pupils served in World War 1 and 70 gave their lives. We remember all our former pupils who have given their lives in the two great wars and in other conflicts in a special 'Words and Music' event in Hereford Cathedral, as well as during our school Remembrance Service. During this particular trip to Belgium the Chamber Choir will also perform in a special sung service at St Georges Memorial Chapel, Ypres, to dedicate a new commemorative plaque to the fallen of Hereford Cathedral School.”

The Senior Chamber Choir will return to the UK on 10th, and on the 11th November will be joined by massed choirs of around 350 Herefordshire schoolchildren in a reflective evening of Words and Music for Remembrance in Hereford Cathedral at 7.00 pm. Admission is free, and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Royal British Legion.

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