Mitsingkonzert

Sing-Along Concert

An electrifying classic! Year after year, this concept continues to captivate the singers of the world: 1300 lovers of vocal music from many different countries come together in the Berlin Philharmonie to learn a symphonic choral work with Rundfunkchor Berlin and then perform it in concert.

Singing along with 1300 people in the Berlin Philharmonie

These big Sing-Along Concerts in the Philharmonie are intoxicating celebrations of ensemble singing in which you can let yourself be carried along on the surge of a gigantic chorus. What makes the annual Sing-Along Concert so special is that amateurs get to rehearse and sing regularly with a professional chorus under professional working conditions. Since the 1990s, the Radio Chorus has launched a range of initiatives to connect the vast community of amateur singers with the professionals. It also aims to attract and instil an enthusiasm for choral singing in individuals who would otherwise have no access to classical music. These initiatives have found a permanent form in the Sing-Along Concert, whose reputation has spread far beyond Berlin, even beyond Germany. In 2010, for the first time, the successful model was exported – to the Roman theatre of Aspendos in Turkey. Since then it has also taken place in Budapest and Vienna.

Current Event
Kampagnenmotiv Mitsingkonzert 2018

The Philosophy of the Sing-Along Concert

Bringing People Together

An internationally active professional chorus subsidized by taxpayers, says Simon Halsey, needs to reward the public for what it receives from them. Halsey is a devoted community worker. It is his second passion after his collaborations with the greatest figures in classical music. In Birmingham since 1982 he has created four choirs of differing levels and drawn the whole city into a frenzy of music-pedagogical activities. Halsey wants to entice people away from their screens and into active music-making. His efforts have earned him an honorary doctorate from the University of Birmingham. It was only natural that he would bring his ideas and experiences along to Germany when he took over the conductorship of Rundfunkchor Berlin in April 2001. In 2010 Simon Halsey was honoured with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Singing with the Pros

What makes the annual Sing-Along Concert so special is that amateurs get to rehearse and sing regularly with a professional chorus under professional working conditions. Since the 1990s, the Radio Chorus has launched a range of initiatives to connect the vast community of amateur singers with the professionals. It also aims to attract and instil an enthusiasm for choral singing in individuals who would otherwise have no access to classical music. These initiatives have found a permanent form in the Sing-Along Concert, whose reputation has spread far beyond Berlin, even beyond Germany. In 2010, for the first time, the successful model was exported – to the Roman theatre of Aspendos in Turkey. Since then it has also taken place in Budapest and Vienna.

The Fascination of a Giant Chorus

The Sing-Along Concerts have assumed a significance in Berlin’s musical life not unlike that of the Classical and Romantic tradition of singing festivals. Its mass performances bring new life to demanding music, and they offer the public a unique opportunity to experience the powerful sound of a huge ensemble. Some of the works they perform were actually conceived for such large forces, including the overwhelming eruptions of the Verdi Requiem (2008) and the spine-chilling opening of Handel’s Zadok the Priest (2007). Especially in quiet passages there is a rule: the larger a choir is the softer it can sing. You can almost feel the sound waves vibrating in your every pore. What’s more, during the Sing-Along rehearsals as well as the concert itself, even in the intervals, you can sense the community-building function of singing, a phenomenon that becomes especially striking in a work like Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. It is brilliantly written to be easily managed by amateurs, and learning it leads very quickly to a sense of achievement and community. Even sceptics were profoundly moved by it in 2005 at the Philharmonie. Meanwhile, works like Britten’s War Requiem (in 2011) have shown that even demanding 20th-century literature can be performed to a high standard in the Sing-Along Concert.

The History

Beginnings

The overwhelming success was not yet in view in March 2003 when the Sing-Along Concert model was tested with a pilot project at Berlin’s Broadcasting House (Haus des Rundfunks). At the time Rundfunkchor Berlin was mostly inviting already existing amateur choirs to a “day for the whole family”. Nonetheless, 504 singers took up the invitation to rehearse and perform a cappella works by Tallis, Palestrina, Stanford, Bruckner, Gershwin, Bernstein and Orff under Simon Halsey’s direction. The success encouraged Halsey to undertake a single, self-contained work with orchestra the following year: Mozart’s Requiem in May 2004. The Sing-Along Concert had found its name and was now also looking for people who didn’t necessarily belong to a specific chorus. The first to take up the invitation included singers from Finland, Italy, Austria, Poland and Switzerland.

The impression and interest were so strong that the Sing-Along Concerts had to move the next year to the 2300-seat Berlin Philharmonie. Since 2005, 1300 singers – not counting members of the radio chorus and orchestra – have come together regularly for the Sing-Along Concert. In 2009, the number was more than 1500.

New Challenges

Rundfunkchor Berlin has continued since then to set itself new challenges in order to realize the format’s full potential. In 2010, for the first time, it travelled abroad with a Sing-Along Concert, hosting a communal performance of Carmina Burana at the amphitheatre at Aspendos in Turkey. Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, seldom performed in Germany and highly demanding for the singers, added a new dimension in 2011, when it became the first modern work to be programmed. The experiment was a success – and conclusive proof of the project’s high artistic standards. In addition to the Sing-Along Concert in the Berlin Philharmonie, there are now different offerings for special target groups. At the Festival of Cultures, several hundred amateur singers work with world-famous gospel specialists. Specially designed for Berlin’s schoolchildren is the Liederbörse (Song Exchange), held every year since 2009 in the Philharmonie’s Chamber Music Hall.

Chronicle of all Sing-Along Concerts

2017 Maurice Duruflé: Requiem
2016 Franz Schubert: Messe Nr. 6 in Es-Dur
2015 Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem
2014 Beethoven: Chorfantasie und Messe in C-Dur
2013 Georg Friedrich Händel: Der Messias
2012 Joseph Haydn: Nelson-Messe
2011 Benjamin Britten: War Requiem
2010 Franz Schubert: Messe Nr. 5
2009 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Elias
2008 Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem
2007 Händel: Zadok the Priest / Fauré: Requiem
2006 Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
2005 Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
2004 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem
2003 Werke von Tallis, Palestrina, Stanford, Bruckner, Bernstein, Gershwin, Orff u.a.