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Chamber Singers Berlin Tour




Select Bi-College Vocal Group to Work with German Citizens and Refugees from Syria and Eritrea in Community and University Choir Partnerships

BRYN MAWR and HAVERFORD, PA – October 26, 2016 ––The Haverford College Music Department and the Bryn Mawr College Office for the Arts is pleased to announce the Chamber Singers  of Haverford  and Bryn Mawr Colleges  will travel to Berlin on an international cultural exchange tour from January 5-17, 2017.

Thomas Lloyd,  Director of the Choral and Vocal Studies Program for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges and Professor of Music at Haverford, will lead the select group of college singers as they travel to Berlin and Potsdam, Germany, to study, sing, and socialize with members of two community choirs —  Begegnungschor (loosely translated as “Encounter Choir”), the  Chor International Potsdam, and the university chamber group  Kammerchor from the College of Music at the Freie and Technical Universities of Berlin (part of the ensemble program  Collegium Musicum of the Freie Universität and Technische Universität Berlin).

Begegnungschor pairs German volunteers with refugees from Syria, Eritrea, and other war- torn countries for weekly singing of folk songs from members’ countries of origin. The unique choir was founded in October 2015 as an initiative of the German nonprofit association Leadership Berlin (Network Responsibility) in cooperation with the Berlin Association of Choirs, Chorverband Berlin, and serves to send “a signal for a peaceful society that includes everyone regardless of origin.” Many of the choir’s German members also volunteer with refugee support organizations and enjoy working with the recent migrants as equals as they “regain strength and find relaxation; have fun, meet other people, and network” through singing. The group now serves as “a place where committed Berliners sing together with refugees according to the motto ‘Alone we are notes, together we are a song’ (Ya Beppo).”

The Internationalen Chor in historic Potsdam works in partnership with the Adult Education Centre Potsdam and shares Begegnungschor’s mission of joining Germans in singing with foreign nationals “to offer a musical home.” For this work, the choir received the Integration Prize of Potsdam in 2007 and recognition from the Diocesan Council of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Berlin in 2008.

Kammerchor, like the Bi-College Chamber Singers, is a 30-member group of singers selected by audition. The chamber group, one of many music and vocal ensembles at Berlin’s Freie and Technical Universities, performs classical works a capella. The group received top honors at the 44th International Choir Competition "Festa Musicale - Festival of Songs" in Olomouc / Olomouc (Czech Republic) in May 2016, under the leadership of its charismatic conductor, Donka Miteva.

The Chamber Singers will share rehearsals and perform music from both classical and folk repertoires with each of the three choirs during the trip. Lloyd has composed a new arrangement combining Gustav Mahler's "Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?" from Des Knabe Wunderhorn and Khalil al-Qabbar's “Ya tera tiri” for special presentation during the upcoming tour. The arrangement was developed in collaboration with violinist Hanna Khouri,  an instructor and doctoral student in Arabic music at the University of Pennsylvania, founder of Philadelphia's Al Bustan Seeds of Culture Takht Ensemble, and a world-renown violinist in both Arabic and European styles.  Watch the premier performance of "Vogelgesang" at Bryn Mawr.

The tour will be the last for the Bi-Co Chamber Singers under direction of Thomas Lloyd, who will retire from the college at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. Lloyd notes, “Three of our current seniors, including Emily Drummond from Bryn Mawr, were part of our last cultural exchange tour to Mexico City as freshman, so it is particularly meaningful to come full circle with a tour that again explores the connections between singing and cultural movements involving refugees, this time on the other side of the world.”

Drummond, a Bryn Mawr College student who majors in Linguistics at Bryn Mawr and Music through the College’s partnership with Haverford, notes of the upcoming trip, “Music plays a huge role in cultural and national identity. So when we sing together with international choirs, it breaks down constructed barriers of ethnicity and nationality and we really begin to understand each other. It also sends this incredible message to audiences that every person can find common ground with another, regardless of language or tradition.”