Jugendchor Zürich, Switzerland © INTERKULTUR

Improving musically and strengthening the community

How participating in competitions can enrich choirs: interview with Marco Amherd, Zurich Youth Choir

Choir Stories

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In the last two years, the choirs of this world have been facing major problems. Performances, concert tours and rehearsals had to be cancelled or could only take place virtually. The choral world is now facing the new challenge of reviving the daily rehearsal routine and finding its way back onto the stage. But how can this be done after this long period of silence? How can the choir find its way back to each other and how can it find the courage to take part in competitions again? Marco Amherd, choral conductor of the Youth Choir Zurich, has ventured back onto the stage with his singers and participated in the international choir competition Vox Lucensis from April 9-13, 2022 in Lucca, Italy. In this interview, he shares their experience.

Why did you decide to participate in a choir competition in spring 2022?

In the last two years, many concerts of the Youth Choir were cancelled. Therefore, in the rehearsals we sometimes lacked a concrete goal to work towards. The choir competition in Lucca appealed to us on several levels. On the one hand, it was possible for us to travel by train. On the other hand, we were also looking for the musical challenge. The Italian ambience and the prospect of a few beautiful spring days finally convinced us. Although normal rehearsal work was not always possible in spring, we wanted to take up the challenge so that the choir could grow from this endeavour and despite the adverse circumstances. A competition always challenges a choir to work on the smallest details musically and at the same time not to lose sight of making music together. Therefore, we were also very much looking forward to the performances of the other ensembles.

How did the preparations go? Were there any limitations due to the pandemic?

The last two years have been turbulent for many choirs. Fortunately, the Youth Choir was able to make music almost without interruption. We started rehearsing individual voices shortly after the first lockdown and were quickly able to move on to rehearsals in quartets. This was followed by a long phase in small groups and later singing with masks. For the competition we chose pieces, some of which we already had in our repertoire and some of which we had newly learned and even performed for the first time in Lucca. I love the challenge and can trust that the Youth Choir is always open to such adventures.

How did your choir experience the participation in Lucca?
Has the choir changed in any way through this?

The participation in Lucca was a great enrichment for us. The many encounters with other choirs, the excitement before the competition performances and the good atmosphere made Vox Lucensis a unique experience. The choir not only grew musically, but was also able to strengthen the team spirit. The train rides, meals, spontaneous serenades with other choirs after the concerts are unforgettable memories that strengthen the choir for the upcoming challenges and enable it to reach new musical heights in the first place. I felt this fire in the rehearsals after the competition and the Youth Choir is already looking forward to the next competition.

If you are looking for a new goal for your choir to grow musically and to strengthen your choral community, there are still various larger and smaller choir events for you until the end of the year and also in the coming year. Sign up and dare to venture onto the stages of this world again, full of confidence!

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