German Choir tradition in Central London
In the beginning (2009) …
… there was a small group of music enthusiasts who regularly came together to sing at services of the German Christuskirche in Knightsbridge. It was the inspiration of Barbara Hoefling to turn this group into a permanent ensemble.
Over ten years on, Barbara is musical director of a diverse, international choir of around sixty singers with a shared passion for music and a particular interest in German language and culture. With a wide-ranging repertoire and a busy performance schedule, the choir has attracted the attention of both German and UK television and was recently featured in the musical press.
The choir has been deeply involved in the 500-year Reformation celebrations in 2017 and in 2018 undertook a tour of ten cathedrals in the UK and travelled to Ypres and Brussels to sing at services marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
What we sing
The heart of our repertoire is of course the German choral masterpieces of the seventeenth to late nineteenth centuries (Schütz, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Mendelssohn and many more). We also perform classical choral music from outside the Austro-German tradition (Vivaldi’s Gloria was the centrepiece of the choir’s inaugural concert in 2009).
Contemporary music is an important part of what we do as a choir. We regularly perform new works, some of them specially commissioned for the choir (notably Orlando Gough's pieces for the 2012 Thames Festival, six pieces for our 2015 folk song CD including works by Gareth Treseder and Danyal Dhondy, various Scottish-inspired works commissioned to accompany the Buckingham Palace exhibition of Scottish art in 2016, and Matt Gio's The Answered Hymn, written to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017). In 2018, we performed contemporary settings of war poetry for our tour "Blessed are the Peacemakers", which rekindled our collaboration with Orlando Gough.
We have a long tradition of collaboration with other choirs and ensembles. Our CDs feature a range of fellow choirs and we have shared the stage (or the service) with groups including the choir of King’s College Cambridge, the choir of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the German Choir Paris, the UK Parliament choir, the West London Bach Consort, Petersham Voices, the Keld Ensemble, and the choirs of many of the different Lutheran congregations in London (for the Reformation 500 celebrations).
Where we sing
The diversity of our performance venues is staggering. In 2016 and 2017 alone, the choir took part in services at St Paul’s Cathedral, St-Martin-in-the-Fields, King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and Westminster Abbey, as well as performing in a number of beautiful London churches and in the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. We also sang in less conventional locations such as in front of a trailer in Trafalgar Square (as part of the Reformation celebrations), on top of a podium in Piccadilly Circus (for the 2016 Samsung World Choirs series) and behind a display cabinet in Harrods (to serenade Christmas shoppers on the Egyptian staircase!)
The choir retains a strong link with its place of origin, the Christuskirche in Knightsbridge, with rehearsals taking place each Tuesday in the Bonhoeffer room below the church. Alongside its concert commitments, the choir sings at a couple of church services during the year, is a fixture at the German YMCA Christmas bazaar, and sings for charity during the Christmas season.