Worcester International Festival For Young Singers


The world is a wonderful place, let us tell you that. You think you know your hometown very well and then you discover something that’s been there for a long period of time but you haven’t noticed it at all. We are sure that each one of us had some similar experience in the past. We miss all those obvious signs and when something happens, we are utterly and completely surprised.

Rita was utterly and completely surprised yesterday when she arrived to Worcester for a lazy Saturday day out. She immediately knew that there was something going on as huge groups of people were exchanging leaflets and hurried to the city center.  And there was the music. The whole town was filled with different songs and sounds: there was a 11 year old boy playing an electric guitar in front of city hall, an young opera singer was giving a street performance in front of Subway store to rave reviews from the people eating their lunch (she got free sandwich and a cola!) and a group of dancing mimes were entertaining the kids in the front of the cathedral. When we asked other visitors why there was so many performances out of the sudden, we were told a music festival was just starting. It wasn’t till the midday when we came across Paul Cook, one of the volunteers, who explained what the festival was all about.

The logo of the Festival
The logo of the Festival
Sing UK logo -
Sing UK logo

Ladies and Gentleman – it is our biggest pleasure to announce that Worcester is now home to a very special, new international event. It is called WIFYS for short and the full name is Worcester International Festival for Young Singers. The festival brings 7 days filled with hundreds of concerts, street performances and plays to the very heart of Worcester, 10 professional and amateur choirs from 10 countries, 400 singers, 4 internationally known conductors and one passion for music. 19 -27 of July – those days are now creating history! Most events are free but seating at the venues are limited. If you’d like to take part in the festival, please send your email to info@singuk.org or contact the Gala Concert at Worcester Live Box Office, Crowngate tel. 01905 611 427.

WIFYS Festival leaflet given to Rita by one of the volunteers
WIFYS Festival leaflet given to Rita by one of the volunteers
WIFYS Festival leaflet  page 2
WIFYS Festival leaflet page 2

None of the choirs performing during the festival has ever visited United Kingdom before. They have been all over the world,  were awarded numerous titles and have excellent reputation, but this festival is a new experiences for all of them. The participants are aged 9- 25 and arrived  from Hong Kong, Russia, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Germany, Belgium and Lithuania. The hosts are is represented by local choir from Worcestershire named Wyre Forest Young Voices. WIFYS  is organized to unite the singers from different countries, religions and backgrounds under the banner of unity through music. Sing UK, the organizing committee, wants to create more opportunities for talented youths to train with the best choir directors and conductors in the world, meet new friends and strengthen the international links. The whole event will culminate in a gala concert at Worcester Cathedral on July 26th where all 400 singers will perform the world premiere of a new work by Bob Chilcott, Five Days that Changed the World.

You can visit SING UK official website here:  http://www.singuk.org
Or add them on Facebook by clicking here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sing-UK/106152329427443

More information about concerts can also be found on official events page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/485948384755155/

WIFYS has now an official Flickr page where pictures from the events and rehearsals are updated daily:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/wifys2013/

WIFYS festival booklet cover
WIFYS festival booklet cover
Choirs performing in the Worcester Cathedral - picture kindly provided by the organizers and published in the WIFYS booklet
Choirs performing in the Worcester Cathedral – picture kindly provided by the organizers and published in the WIFYS booklet

As we have mentioned, there are 10 festival venues and ten choirs participating. The organizers have prepared a little map for the visitors and we will post it below so you can download it and print it with you. We have added the link to official website of every church. If you’d like to contact the parish offices to ask for a tour or the events, please click on the links to find addresses and telephone numbers.

The venues include:
– All Saint’s Church in Evesham  – http://www.eveshamparish.com
– Great Malvern Priory – http://www.greatmalvenpriory.org.uk
– Great Witley Church  – http://www.greatwitleychurch.org.uk/
– Guesten Hall in Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove  – http://www.avoncroft.org.uk/
– Pershore Abbey – http://www.pershoreabbey.org.uk/
– St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Upton upon Severn – http://www.upton.uk.net/townmatters/stpandpchurch/stpeters.html
– Huntington Hall in Worcester – http://www.worcesterlive.co.uk/
– St. George’s Church in Barbourne –  http://www.stgeorgesbarbourne.org.uk/first_6.html
– St. John-in-Bedwardine Church in  Worcester – http://www.stjohninbedwardine.co.uk/
– St. Martin’s Church in Worcester – http://www.stmartinsworcester.org.uk/

WIFYS map with all concert venues
WIFYS map with all concert venues

Living and working in Hereford (about 30 miles away from Worcester), it will be impossible for us to visit the festival performances during the week. However, we have been very lucky to meet one of the choirs in person and hear them sing. The girls from April Girls Choir from Russian are extremely talented and quickly captivated the hearts of Worcesterites (especially the males). The girls performed in the same city center on Saturday 20th of July and their program consisted of  Russian folk and English songs. Their  concert has been conducted by Elena Smirnova. April Girls Choir has been awarded many times and performed in Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and in many other places. Rita has taken 3 pictures and would like to thank the WIFYS volunteers for their permission to document the event.

April Girls Choir  during the performances on the street
April Girls Choir during the performances on the street
The girls had matching silver dresses  - they looked absolutely beautiful
The girls had matching silver dresses – they looked absolutely beautiful
Elena Smirnova conducted the performance
Elena Smirnova conducted the performance
Choir bio from the festival booklet
Choir bio from the festival booklet

Other choirs expected to perform include:

Artemis Girls Choir from Belgium (Meisjeskoor Artemis Maaseik) – Artemis  was formed in 2007 and have 25 members between the age of 10 and 20. All members are students at The Academy of Music in Maaseik. Conductors Jeroen and Guido Beckers. The choir has been awarded first prize at European Music Festival for  Young People in Belgium and is member of the prestigious European Choral Association  – Europa Cantat.
Contact: jeroen.beckers@belgacom.net
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meisjeskoor-Artemis-Maaseik/622848431062534
Europa Cantat: http://www.europeanchoralassociation.org/members/choirs-in-countries-a-d/

Comunidad de Madrid Youth Choir from Spain (El Coro de Jóvenes de la Comunidad de Madrid) – the choir has been a project of Spain’s Ministry of Education as part of helping the children from the Community of Madrid to find their purpose in life and teach them new skills.  It has 50 members of both sexes between the age of 14 and 21 years. the choir is conducted by Juan Pablo do Juan Martin. They performed in many places around the globe and received Educational Excellence Award.
Official page: http://www.corojovenesmadrid.com

DO-RE-MI Children’s Choir from Austria – founded in 1999 by conductor and music teacher Irina Golubkowa, DO-RE-MI Children’s Choir is part of singing studio of the same name and a music school. Education starts at the age of 4 and  continues until the students are 15 years old. The kids learn not only how to sing, but are also tutored in stage presence, dance, rhythm and musicals. The group tours almost all the time and the students are used to very busy concert routine.
Official page: http://www.kindergesangsstudio-doremi.com/
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/kindergesangstudio

Domino Children’s Choir from Czech Republic –  founded in 1993 in the city of Opava by choirmaster Ivana Kleinová, the mixed choir has 80 members  between the age of 10 and 15. They are one of the most titled choirs at the festival with numerous  grand and first prizes to its name. They performed in Canada, Israel and in many European countries. Each year the choir gives more than 30 performances in Czech Republic and abroad. In 2003, they sang at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Czech Republic as a member of The Council of Europe.
Official website: http://www.domino-opava.wz.cz/onas.html (only in Czech)

Ozarenie Chamber Choir from Russia – this entirely female choir from Moscow has been founded in 1995 by artistic director and conductor Olga Burova.  They are winners of 1st degree of the International Festival of Academic Choirs “IFAS” (Czech Republic, 2012) and have been awarded the special prize for “The Best Interpretation of the Competition Obligatory Work” and the Gold medal winner of the International competition of choral music “Rimini International Choral Competition” (Italy, 2011) among many other titles. They have been touring UK since the beginning of July 2013.
Official website: http://ozarenie-choir.com/
Contact: yapontseva_el@mail.ru

Sacred Heart Canossian College Choir from Hong Kong – exclusively female choir is part of the prestigious Sacred Heart Canossian College, one of the oldest and the best established Catholic schools in Hong Kong. The College has been founded in 1860’s and has a long tradition in sport and music. The school’s choir is very  famous across China and its performances are gathering large crowds. It has 122 members and each year the group is touring Asia, Europe and both Americas.  The current conductor is Renie Sinn.
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Heart_Canossian_College
Official school website: http://www.shcc.edu.hk/

Skowronki Girls Choir fro Poland – the only Polish choir at the festival comes from Poznan and its name can be translated as Skylarks. This all female band is exactly 60 years old and is based at ZAMEK Cultural Center. The Choir tours a lot each year and is often acting as the ambassador for Polish music and culture abroad. Its artistic director and conductor is Alicja Szeluga has been with the choir for many years and is responsible for the excellent reviews the  group is receiving. Their recent successes include prizes from classical music festivals in Macedonia, Spain, Belgium and Poland.
Official website: http://www.chor-skowronki.pl/
Official Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/chorskowronki

Südpfalzlerchen Children and Youth Choir from Germany –  this mixed choir founded in 1994 has established itself as one of the most popular children choirs in Germany. In nearly 20 years of existence, the group have won nearly all European music titles and prizes and toured USA, Europe and South America numerous times. The group is conducted by Dr Klaus Eichenlaub. The choir is not limiting themselves only to classical music, but stage popular musical, music plays, pantomime and theatrical plays for young and adults.
Official website: http://www.suedpfalzlerchen.de/

Versmė Children’s Choir from Lithuania – Versmė was established in 1987 in Vilanus, the capitol of Lithuania. It is actually a theatrical group as they are trained in acting, singing, choreography and stage presence. The group performs in musicals, stage productions and plays, but also travels around the world as 25-30 all girls choir. The members are aged 12-18 and are the only Lithuanian group that managed to win the popular  TV festival “Dainų dainelė” 5 times. The choir has been performing in Europe, Japan, USA and Canada.  Their conductor is the famous Alina Valentinavičienė.
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mergin%C5%B3-choras-Versm%C4%97-/132070753473027
More information: http://www.lvjc.lt/index.php?page=bureliai2&hl=lt_LT&paslauga=2297

Wyre Forest Young Voices  –  last but not least, the choir representing United Kingdom is based in Kidderminster and is part of Kidderminster Choral Society. It has 60 members, both boys and girls, aged between 11 and 18 years old. WFYV as it is commonly known, has been recently voted Choir of the Day in the Midlands area in Sainsbury Choir of the Year competition. The choir is conducted by Geoff Weaver and  performed  in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Cyprus and The Netherlands. They are the Worcester’s pride and joy and we think many people will come to cheer on the local singers 🙂
Official Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyre-Forest-Young-Voices/118114918344095
Official website: http://www.kidderminsterchoralsociety.co.uk/

The choirs will have a chance to learn and work with 4 international stars of classical music:  Margrét Bóasdóttir from Iceland (famous soprano, conductor and artistic director of Choral Festival at Lake Myvatn), Bob Chilcott from UK (the most famous contemporary British choral composer, conductor and singer based in Oxford, England), Carlo Pavese from Italy (artistic director of Festival Europa Cantat and vice president of ECA-AC) and Sanna Valvanne from Finland/USA (conductor, teacher and multidisciplinary workshop trainer).

Hope to see you there! And keep your eyes  and ears open – there is so much happening in Worcester this summer!
Let’s not get surprised again 🙂
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

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