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International Choral Scene

Singing in a choir is absolutely "in"!

Choir director Michael Betzner-Brandt explains what’s special about the singing project "You Sing"

Whether it is a Sing Along Concert with professional choirs, “Rudelsingen”, open singing sessions or simply the weekly choral rehearsal. Singing in a choir is more popular than ever before. Also the new project "You Sing – Du bist der Chor" in Germany, which since the beginning of the year invites choirs, singers and curious people to sing together in large format is totally trendy. Michael Betzner-Brandt, the conductor of the mass choir, tells us what is behind the idea of "You Sing" and  the repertoire:

"You Sing – Du bist der Chor" is a project that offers the possibility to all people who want to sing together, similar to the well-known "Rudelsingen". What makes "You Sing" different from the conventional "Rudelsingen"?

"You sing" means "You are the choir!" We take this very serious by always offering several choral voices. We invite the audience to sing in a variety of ways. Some sing a second, third or fourth voice, or create a background melody or accompaniment. And so everyone has the opportunity to sing along every song, even if the melody is not in the ear. That is why we can cover our repertoire very broadly: from Beatles to Justin Timberlake, from folk song to Schlager music, from Ed Sheeran to Andreas Bourani.

And through the professional band, the backing vocals and Giovanni and me, everything is a mixture of a choir rehearsal, karaoke and rock concert. So our sound makes the music.

With Giovanni as a pop singer and you as a conductor, you have addressed two target groups, the pop scene and the choral singers. Was this division also reflected in the audience?

Yes, we asked the audience and it turned out that both the choir scene and people who sing rarely or never were there and also the people, who simply like to listen to pop concerts. In some cities, whole choirs were present, which could be seen both in singing and in a uniform choral outfit. Overall, the "non-organized singers" were in the majority.

What artistic requirements did you have when planning the project and the song selection?

When creating the program we asked ourselves for each song: It is suitable for choirs? We were aware that not everyone knows every song. That's why we have a "uuh" voice or an accompaniment group for every song, so you can sing any song, even if you do not know it. But I think there were favorite songs for everyone, for the teenagers and the older semesters and all the others. And that is why You Sing works cross-generational.

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"You Sing" toured in the big cities of Germany. In which city was the Sing Along Choir at the fittest?

That’s a difficult question. Every city has its own mood. The premiere in Hamburg with 1200 people was overwhelming. But also in Nuremberg, where we were in a smaller hall with about 500 people, the atmosphere was almost family, but nevertheless very enthusiastic. For me personally the audience in the “Jahrhunderthalle Frankfurt” was terrific.

What was your most memorable experience in the "You Sing" tour do?

In Hamburg we wanted to sing as an encore "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. When our pianist played the first chords, Giovanni suddenly had an idea and said, "Do you know what these chords remind me of? ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams". For this song we had no texts prepared on the screen. And then Giovanni began to sing Angels and everyone began to sing along. The band also got in, although we had never rehearsed that. It was a magical and also very funny moment.

Some tour dates were canceled for productional reasons. How do you continue with "You Sing"? Is a continuation planned?

Yes, a continuation is planned. The format works and all involved people are motivated. The new dates will be announced on www.dubistderchor.de as soon as the next tour is going to be planned.

All those who are now interested in participating in "You Sing" can find out about it on the event website. Sing Along concerts on the international stage can be also found on the INTERKULTUR website.