A New Member's Perspective
The 2019 Session of the World Youth Choir officially started three days ago, and singers from all over the world have gathered in Saint-Affrique, France, to rehearse and prepare for their tour across Southern France and Portugal.
While this is the 30th Anniversary of the choir, there are several in the ensemble who are new to the choir and the organization. In this session, there are a total of 34 musicians new to the World Youth Choir.
Many are thrilled to embark on this adventure, some even traveling many days in order to reach Saint-Affrique. Some other members came from neighboring countries.
Feli Ammer from Germany, 21, studies sound engineering and assumed she would never get a chance to sing in the ensemble. She heard them in person in 2016 and wanted to join the group, but had exams scheduled during the choir’s session. That is, until this year.
Her parents, both in music professions, told her about the choir a few years ago. According to Feli, this last semester of school was very difficult, but counting down the day to the World Youth Choir gave her something sweet to look forward to.
Her favorite part so far was the very first evening of the session.
“I could not believe how a group of 60 people could all be so open, funny, and friendly.”
Her biggest challenge it still recovering from travel, and managing time between practicing outside of rehearsals and hanging out with new friends.
Feli is most excited to travel to Portugal during this session.
“I always wanted to go there, and now having the chance with more than 60 people traveling to Lisbon and singing concerts on huge occasions, it’s just the bomb! This will probably be the best classic music I’ve ever done.”
This year, the World Youth Choir also has its first member from Kazakhstan. Ardak Bukhabekov, 24, is pursuing a degree in Voice, focusing on opera singing, and he already has a degree in Musicology. During his studies, he additionally works as a music teacher.
Kazakhstan held a National Recruitment Audition, organized by his choir director in coordination with the IFCM, one of the patrons of the World Youth Choir.
Ardak enjoys his time with the choir so far, and not only for the music.
“My second passion outside of music is learning different cultures and languages so it makes me even more happy to be here, representing my culture and seeing theirs, that’s what I like the most.”
He also greatly admires this session’s conductor, Josep Vila i Casañas, for the way he runs rehearsals and his musical aptitude.
“He works with the choir professionally in terms of technique, musical interpretation, and connecting with the choir. He’s not that strict, and we feel like one organism organically. He’s experienced and I can see he’s energized by the music, and he makes me want to share this music with each other and our future audience.”
Ardak was worried coming in to the choir that it might be difficult blending together as an ensemble, since each member comes from a different musical tradition. However, he was pleasantly surprised, and it reminded him of the different pieces he works with in Kazakhstan.
“Even if we do that work in Russian or Kazakh, it’s one language. The language of music, and I feel at one with the singers around me.”
Jacob Luellen, 21, from the United States, agrees with Feli and Ardak’s opinions on the opportunities the World Youth Choir presents. He studies Vocal Performance at Missouri State University, and met the World Youth Choir last year when his choir toured to China
“I heard them sing, and I instantly knew I had to audition for the next session.”
He says that this group is exceedingly warm and friendly, whether members are new or alumni of the choir.
“All the people are so welcoming, and it’s so easy to make friends and so easy to talk to people because we all share this common love of music and love of singing. And I feel like I have 60 new friends made in the span of two or three days.”
His main challenge is mastering the French in some of the pieces, but he’s looking forward to rehearsing more of the music and singing in the concerts, since according to him, each concert offers a unique musical experience for the choir.
These concerts include locations such as Sylvanès, Gaillac, and Lisbon. The selections of repertoire vary extremely, featuring composers such as Ravel, Whitacre, music by the conductor, and traditional folk music from around the world.
Stay tuned for more news and information as the session continues, and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram (@worldyouthchoir) for instant updates on the choir’s adventures in France and Portugal.