The World Youth Choir (WYC) is an international ensemble of some of the best young choral singers from all over the world. It is a non-profit programme created in 1989 and has since gathered more than 1.000 singers from 70 countries in almost 40 sessions.
The project is powered by the World Youth Choir Foundation as the legal body behind the project, with the support of three patrons: Jeunesses Musicales International, International Federation for Choral Music and the European Choral Association.
The World Youth Choir Alumni Session 2023 was the first session since the last session held in 2019 in France and Portugal. It is an important step for the choir to be back after four years of interruption due to covid.
«It was the being together again after covid … the joy and enthusiasm, and just the sheer pleasure they felt after the silence of the last four years [that made it] a fantastic experience on many levels.» said Ki Adams, President of the Board of the World Youth Choir Foundation.
Graeme Climie, alumni singer (2019 and 2023 session), from Canada, added «After all of the pain and tears of canceled projects, hopeless dreams, and years of begging the universe for any opportunity to see each other again, I will spend the rest of my life being thankful for those incredible days where we suspended life itself to delight in each other’s company, incredible abilities, and endless optimism to build a better world through music».
For this session, the choir was composed by 40 alumni singers - who have taken part in a WYC session from 2016 to 2019 - from 26 different countries. The choir gathered for a short rehearsal session and international tour in Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, from 3-12 June 2023.
Various organizations have collaborated to make the 2023 session possible. These partners include JM Croatia, Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia , JSKD, JM Hungary, Veszprém-Balaton 2023 and the European Music Council.
The choir performed under the artistic direction of Zoltán Pad (Hungary) and the guest conductor Sebastjan Vhrovnik (Slovenia) performed in Grožnjan (Croatia) and Ljubljana (Slovenia).
Zoltán Pad is an internationally renowned conductor. Since 2014, he is chief conductor of the Hungarian Radio Choir. He conducted the World Youth Choir in 2017 session. He is regularly invited to conducting master courses and he regularly works with youth choirs. He is a returning jury member at international choir and conductor competitions.
Sebastjan Vhrovnik is an Associate professor of choral conducting at the Ljubljana Academy of Music. He is currently the conductor of the Ljubljana Academy of Music Chamber Choir, the Ljubljana Music Society Mixed Choir and permanent guest conductor of the Zbor Slovenske filharmonije – Slovenian Philharmonic Choir.
Photo credit:Božidar Raos
Photo credit: Jovana Kuzmanović
The World Youth Choir Alumni session 2023 started in Croatia, with the group arriving to Grožnjan on June 3.
After four long years of interruption, the group finally reunited. Hugs, laughter, and tears of joy filled the air as the singers embraced the opportunity to connect and be phisycally together once again.
Even though most of the singers already knew each other from previous sessions, there was also space to meet new faces! The first day ended with some ice-breaking games so the singers could connect with each other and share their expectations about the session.
The intense rehearsal session started immediately on the second day, where the choir got the chance to work on the repertoire with Zoltán Pad and Sebastjan Vhrovnik.
Following three days of rigorous rehearsals, the choir performed their first concert at Sts. Vitus, Modest and Crescentia's Church, in Grožnjan, on June 6.
Jovana Flipović, alumni singer (2017, 2018 and 2023 sessions) from Serbia, describes the project as «a place where people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different nationalities come to one place and unite into one singing soul and pair of lungs. That is the most amazing way to realize that we all belong and, even though each of us is individually unique, together we are one. World Youth Choir is an experience that every singer in the world should get to live.»
The choir travelled to Slovenia by bus and the rehearsal session continued.
During the time in Slovenia, the singers had an All-Stars Evening, which stood out as one of the highlights of the session. The singers prepared something special to showcase to the entire group, and it was truly incredible to witness the immense effort people put into this moment. They collaborated with their fellow colleagues to present something representing their own country or simply something immensely enjoyable that brought laughter to everyone.
Also outside of rehearsal, the singers had the chance to explore Ljubljana castle and the city.
The choir performed at Julij Betetto Hall, University of Ljubljana Academy of Music, on June 9. The premiere of the commissioned piece "The Bells," composed by Nana Forte, was one of the highlights of the program. Nana Forte was present in the audience, which added an extra layer of significance to the performance. Furthermore, Matej Kastelic, the composer of the piece "Otche Nash," and Samo Vovk, the composer of the piece"Ta na Solbici", also attended the concert.
Photo credit: Jovana Kuzmanović
« The World Youth Choir is truly the most amazing and miraculous thing that I’ve ever seen and experienced. I’ll never stop being grateful that I met you, sang with you, was accepted and loved by all of you. We gave those of us that fell down the strength to get up and feel at home again, we reforged our bonds to last, and we showed in our own ways how much we care about each other, and how much we love this project. It is a treasure whose richness and profound impact can’t be measured or contained, no matter how much we try to put our feelings and thoughts into words. » Elias Johansson, alumni singer (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2023 session), from Sweden.
Budapest & Veszprém (Hungary)
The choir travelled then to Hungary and performed at the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy, in Budapest. What a concert! What a venue!
The World Youth Choir's concert in Budapest served as the grand finale of two significant conferences held from June 6th to June 10th. The first was the third edition of the 'Bach 2 Future' conference, organized by Papageno. The second conference was the 'European Forum on Music 2023', a collaborative effort between the European Music Council, the Hungarian Music Council, and Papageno.
For more details on the World Youth Choir's performance in Budapest, you can find additional information here.
Photo credit: 4K Media Studio
Next stop: Veszprém!
During the time in Veszprém, the choir had the opportunity to visit and swim in Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in Central Europe and one of the region's foremost tourist destinations.
The choir performed its last concert at Saint Michael's Cathedral, in Veszprém, on June 11. The astonishing acoustics and vibrant audience, made the choir's last concert more than special.
As the singers stood on the stage, basking in the applause and cheers of the audience, tears of joy and gratitude welled up in their eyes. It was a beautiful moment of realization that they had accomplished something truly extraordinary together.
Photo credit: Kornél Máhl
We could feel the bond formed among the singers during their time together. From the initial days of introductions and ice-breakers to the rehearsals and shared meals, they had forged deep connections and lifelong friendships. They laughed, cried, and supported each other through the highs and lows of the journey.
Though the session had come to an end, the impact of the music and the connections forged will endure, leaving an indelible mark on singers' hearts and the hearts of all who had the privilege to witness the World Youth Choir 2023 Alumni Session's inspiring performances.
Alberto Fernández, an alumni singer (2019 and 2023 sessions) from Spain put it best when he says «The World Youth Choir is the most important musical and personal experience I have had in my life. WYC left a deep footprint in my heart and gave me the necessary energy to come back home with a deep desire on being a choir teacher and devote my work on reaching out and making more people to sing, conduct and compose. My career and my life was deeply transformed by this project.»
Stay tuned from upcoming audition information for the 2024 World Youth Choir Session.