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Chor zur Welt

A choir featuring singers from over 15 countries.

Home isn’t necessarily a location; the Chor zur Welt (English: World Choir) choir members all agree – home can also be a feeling. The singers all live in Hamburg, some since they were born, others only after they were forced to leave the country they grew up in.

»Heimat«, meaning »home«, »homeland« or »heritage« in English, was the main theme of the choir’s concert in March 2018. On the programme: four songs from Franz Schubert’s »Winterreise« combined with suitable compositions from the Middle East/Turkish region.

Home – what is it exactly?

Impressions from the concert on 18 March 2018:

Chor zur Welt

The Chor zur Welt

And suddenly there were 60 participants

Ilka Berger

The Elbphilharmonie »Chor zur Welt« was founded in the autumn of 2016, just a few months before the opening of the new concert hall, to perform at the Elbphilharmonie’s »Salām Syria« festival. Initially, the choir was aimed primarily at Syrians and Germans. »We did not know who would show up,« says Ilka Berger, project coordinator. »And suddenly there were 60 participants.« Syrian singer Dima Orsho came to Hamburg specially for the first rehearsal. She started to sing a Syrian folk song – and immediately half of the new choir passionately joined in. For Nidal Osman, who moved to Hamburg from Damascus and works here as a computer scientist, it was a very emotional moment: »I got goosebumps when Dima started singing. Many had tears in their eyes. It was clear to me then: I’m definitely going to take part in this.«

Federal President is inspired

Since then, the choir has diligently rehearsed on a weekly basis and not only performed at the »Salām Syria« Festival, but also at the Körber Foundation, during the Long Night of Singing at the Elbphilharmonie and even for Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Phonetic Transcriptions of Arabic

Not only has the ensemble’s repertoire expanded, it’s also grown in diversity: the choir currently brings together about 60 amateur singers from 15 different countries. The musical direction is in the hands of Jörg Mall; his assistant Rami Olsen, supported by native speakers, concentrates on the small details such as pronunciation. Both assume important roles, since the choir sings repertoire from both the Middle East/Turkish regions and Europe. The Arabic lyrics are transcribed into phonetic transcriptions for the German choir members. »Of course, it’s a home game for the Syrians,« laughs Ilka Berger. In contrast, for many Syrian participants, the polyphonic choral singing was a new experience initially – they are used to singing in unison.

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