Young, talented metro Atlanta singers from three groups are getting the experiences of their lifetimes this summer on European tours. Some more seasoned Atlanta singers are going to get in on the act, too:
Atlanta Boy Choir recently returned from a June tour to Poland and the Czech Republic, and the highlights were many for the 40 men and 40 boys under the direction of maestro Fletcher Wolfe.
- They were invited to perform in Poland in honor of the canonization of Pope John Paul II. A longtime favorite of John Paul, the choir sang many times at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the pope participating in the service. One June tour stop was Saint John’s Cathedral in Warsaw. In honor of his late June bar mitzvah at Atlanta’s Temple Sinai, singer Bryce Zimmerman presented 400 yarmulkes (prayer caps) for Warsaw’s Jewish community.
- At St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, the choir performed before the 13th century Altarpiece of Veit Stoss, the enormous Gothic altar that is considered a Polish national treasure.
- At Theresienstadt concentration camp, in Terezin, Czech Republic, they sang “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” written by Charles Davidson from poems by children imprisoned at the camp. They later sang “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” before an overflowing and, in many cases, emotional crowd at Prague’s Church of Our Lady Before Tyn.
Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde will be well represented at the 8th World Choir Games, a biennial choral Olympics taking place in and around Riga, Latvia, through July 19.
The Youth Chorale has been singing its way across Germany for the last week, with the Treble Concert Choir scheduled to depart Atlanta on July 7.
The 60 Atlanta Young Singers will be among 27,000 vocalists in 460 choirs singing at the games.
The Atlantans will compete in four categories: Children’s Choirs Champions Competition, Youth Choirs of Equal Voices Champions Competition, Scenic Folklore Open Competition and Mixed Boys’ Choirs Open Competition.
Thirty choristers from the Atlanta-based Georgia Boy Choir are heading to England on July 18 for a 16-day trip during which a highlight will be serving as the choir in residence for a week at London's St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“What this means is that we will be responsible for singing the daily service of Choral Evensong," artistic director and conductor David R. White said, "essentially representing the Church of England to the parishioners of the cathedral and to the thousands of tourists who flock there every day.”
The first week of the trip the choir will be based in the picturesque town of Ludlow in Shropshire, near the Welsh border. From this base the singers will make day trips to give concerts or perform Evensong in Chester Cathedral, Dore Abbey, Shrewsbury Abbey, Hererford Cathedral and St. Laurence’s Church.
The following week the choir travels to London to perform its duties at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“Singing for a cathedral residency is much harder work than our usual concert tours," White said. "Normally we prepare a concert of one to two hours’ length, and then essentially go from one location to the next performing the same concert. But in this case, we have to have all new music prepared for every day that we are there."
Along with the hard work will be fun diversions, too.
The group will visit castles, play cricket, participate in an acting workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, take a cruise through London on the Thames and go punting on the river in Oxford.
Atlanta's vocal gifts to England this summer won't end with the departure of the Georgia Boy Choir, which back home serves as ensemble in residence at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.
Incidentally, Peachtree Road United Methodist Choir will be choir in residence at St. Paul’s the week immediately after Georgia Boy Choir’s tenure there. The adult choir departs Atlanta on Aug. 1 on a pilgrimage it's referring to as "Service Through Singing."