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Let’s talk about songs

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

by Indre Krivaite (EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies - Manuel Marín Promotion)

The College Choir is a mixed choir, composed of students that share a love for music and singing. We are an unauditioned choir and not everyone has had extensive musical experience, but as the conductor, it has been an absolute pleasure working with people who are this passionate about choral singing and so determined to learn the music. The singers’ dedication and their positive attitude helps to create a great atmosphere at rehearsals which take place at least once a week (on Sunday evenings). It is not uncommon, however, to meet more often: for example, in the week preceding the Opening Ceremony at which we performed the European Anthem (Ode to Joy), we rehearsed every other day.

For me, the Ceremony itself was a very exciting event that I had been looking forward to for a while, and having the chance to perform with the choir in front of fellow students as well as distinguished guests made the occasion even more special. Given that this was my first performance as a choral conductor, I was naturally slightly nervous, however knowing how much time and effort the choir had invested into learning the music, I was confident that the performance would go to plan. Hearing the applause at the end, I was overwhelmed with positive emotions and gratitude to all the singers and our wonderful pianist Cas (van der Lee), who worked so hard to get the performance ready in just three weeks.

The College choir at the Opening Ceremony

I have personally been singing since I was a child, but my passion for choral singing was really sparked when I began taking choir as a class at my school in Vienna, at the age of 14. I had an incredibly inspiring teacher who was a respected professional in her field and, most importantly, loved what she was doing and was able to convey that love for music to her students. In fact, I still use a lot of the knowledge gained in her classes when leading rehearsals here at the College.

When coming to Bruges, I had not set myself a particular goal of becoming a choral conductor; I just knew I wanted to be part of a choir and make music. It so happened that on my first day at the College, I befriended a group of students who were just as keen on the idea. It was with them that we organised the first choir rehearsal; Eva (Ambrus) was happy to help with the choir’s organisational aspects, and as no one volunteered to take on the musical directing task, I decided to give it a go, at least for one rehearsal. Perhaps as a bit of a surprise to myself, I felt quite comfortable in this new role, and those that had gathered to sing encouraged me to stick to it.

It’s important to remember that our choir is a team: the choir members can – and do – suggest ideas for warm-up exercises, share insights on singing techniques and various sorts of details when learning a musical piece. This input is very much appreciated and I think we have been working very well together to make sure our performance is really our best work.

Our song repertoire is created in the same team spirit. We have joint brainstorming sessions, during which we share ideas for potential songs we could learn, keeping in mind that choral versions may not be available for all pieces. We then have a vote and choose few songs that seem the most popular, as well as feasible in terms of difficulty. Currently, we are in the process of developing our repertoire for the run-up to the holidays and are planning to put on a Christmas concert shortly before we depart for the winter break.

New Beginnings - Issue n. 1, 22 October 2018


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