Soul Sounds Academy, Sri Lanka © Nolte Photography

How Choir Singing Builds a Country’s Identity

Choirs have the power to bring people together and create pride in the place they call home

About Choir Singing

It’s no secret that singing brings us together. When you harmonize your voice with others, a certain magic happens — making everyone feel close and connected. But choir singing might also help build a much bigger community. In fact, at INTERKULTUR, time and again we’ve seen choir singing serve a role in creating national identity.

There are many reasons why choir singing in particular is such a great cultural unifier. And as we move into another year of incredible singing events, we wanted to share some of the insights we’ve gathered over decades of seeing choirs form and perform all over the world.

It turns out that choral music is one of the most effective ways to build, preserve, and spread a cultural heritage — something so many communities are looking to do today in our rapidly changing world.

Choir Singing Creates Community

First and foremost, song has the ability to create community on its own. We are all born with a natural desire to sing, especially with others. Music generates strong emotions, creating connections in our mind between certain songs and times or places we’ve experienced.

On a country-wide level, this is why the world is filled with national anthems. It’s a piece that everyone in a nation has some emotional link to, that everyone has practiced singing, and that everyone can sing in a crowd at a moment’s notice. No matter who you are or where you stand in the society, you share in the anthem.

Choirs work the same way, and not just for the people in them. They also stand as major points of pride for other citizens who are represented by the choir in competitions. That’s proven to be a major cultural factor for many countries, especially when they are emerging on the global stage after an era of turbulence.

Repertoire Preserves Traditional Pieces

One of the most important things that a choir can do for a culture is keep traditional pieces alive. Many countries have a rich and distinct musical tradition, but as we enter a truly global culture, many of these are becoming neglected.

There are many young people who might have never heard their country’s most important musical contributions — all because there aren’t popular institutions keeping the pieces alive. Choirs can reverse this trend, reviving important works.

A choir provides a place for these songs to stay relevant and heard, making sure that a country’s musical legacy remains for a long time. The best choirs in the world can even help cement a song’s place in the global culture.

Repertoire Educates About a Culture

Repertoire not only preserves specific traditional pieces, but it can also be a way to educate audiences both nationally and internationally. That’s because the lyrics of choir music will often describe important cultural traditions, including holidays, legends, and history.

Attaching this material to music allows us to remember it much better — often without even realizing it! That’s why music has always been a big part of public education. In our age of information, it’s only become more essential to commit the most important things to memory through the power of song.

The more citizens know about their shared history and cultural practices, the more they can take pride in them.

Choirs Provide Opportunities for New National Music

Having a national choir gives an amazing platform for songwriters to produce new music in their native language and influenced by their culture’s traditions. This keeps cultures from always reaching into the past, allowing them to forge ahead into the future.

Without high profile national choirs, there isn’t a great way to showcase new works. In that case, the pieces end up wallowing in obscurity or simply not being written in the first place.

Choir music is a core pillar of a thriving culture, giving people a common songbook to sing from wherever they are. But to have this sector healthy and vibrant, there need to be opportunities for new generations to make their own impact. That’s just one more important role for a national choir!

The Power of Choir

INTERKULTUR’s central idea is that choir music can unite people, or as our slogan says, “Singing together brings nations together.” That unifying power of choir music is such an inspiration.

That’s why we are the proud organizers of the World Choir Games. Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen choirs come from all kinds of countries, even places suffering from war and other hardship. Music gave them the strength to unite and stay hopeful for the future.