11th Int. Johannes Brahms Choir Festival & Competition
Reflections on the event’s twentieth anniversary by Prof. Dr. Ralf Eisenbeiß
It started with a meeting at a busy motorway in 1997 - and became the birth of one of the most successful INTERKULTUR events, now celebrating its 11th edition: The International Johannes Brahms Choir Festival & Competition Wernigerode. The former Mayor Ludwig Hofmann and INTERKULTUR President Günter Titsch met upon the initiative of Prof. Dr. Friedrich Krell to establish a regular choir competition of international standing in the “colourful city in the Harz".
Many interested people asked at this time and even today what Brahms had to do with Wernigerode. The answer was simple: nothing. But through the Landesgymnasium für Musik in Wernigerode a love and connection to the music of Johannes Brahms existed and also the desire to pay homage to this great master of romantic music and to name the competition after him.
As the artistic director of INTERKULTUR, who has so far co-organized or directed about 150 international choir competitions all over the world, I am always amazed at how much the city has made the event its hallmark and how the citizens of Wernigerode truly live their Brahms Festival. The close relationship with the employees of the city administration and Mayor Peter Gaffert, who proved to be a great fan of the event, also contributes to the success of the event. In addition, there are the numerous volunteers who take care of the international guests with a lot of commitment and human warmth. "Brahms" has, so to speak, engraved itself in the DNA of the city.
And the festival itself? Twenty years of hard work and a worldwide reputation speak for themselves: almost 400 choirs and about 18.000 singers from nearly 50 countries visited our festival and won about 200 Golden, 150 Silver and 13 Bronze Diplomas. Among the countries that were guests and took back the name Wernigerode to their homeland were, besides almost all European countries, also nations like South Africa, Nigeria, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, Mexico, the USA and Canada.
They all were met with great appreciation and you can tell from the many applauses at the competition events, in the friendship concerts, at the announcement of the results and the presentation of prizes that there is great respect for each other, recognition for each other when a great job was accomplished or the works performed touched one deeply.
Peter Habermann, who now has the artistic director's baton, will ensure that this event continues to bear fruit as it did during the last twenty years.