Every year the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) in North West Europe organizes a Choral Festival for its associated choirs, which are based in The Netherlands, Belgium or Luxembourg. This year, it was the turn of my choir, from the church of St. John and St. Philip in the The Hague, to organize the festival, and I was a member of the festival committee, along with my two friends Fiona and Emmy.
The choral festival takes the form of a day’s rehearsal, culminating in a themed service at the end of the day. This year, the service was a Choral Evensong, in which all the music was linked to the RSCM, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary. We held the festival at the HH Petrus Paulus kerk, a Catholic church on the Vliet canal in Leidschendam, with Nigel Groome as our musical director for the day, and Christina Edelen playing the organ.
Organizing the festival involved a lot of work, including booking the church, choosing the hymns and psalms for the service and creating a lunch for 80+ people on the day of the festival. Fortunately, we had a great deal of support from the choir in providing the lunches, though I still found myself baking flapjacks and preparing salads in the middle of the night!
And of course, I shouldn’t forget the great pleasure of loading 90 chairs into a trailer, only to have to unload them and repeat the experience the following day, thanks to some rather inconsiderate people who insisted on having them, and then rather smugly told us they hadn’t bothered to use them after all.
After all the hard work, the festival itself was a great success, and appeared to be enjoyed by all the participants. We had representatives from the affiliated choirs of The Hague, Haarlem, Utrecht, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg, as well as some special visitors from Dusseldorf and Swindon.
As you can see, we made a very colourful procession from the church halls, through the the main shopping street of Leidschendam, past the Hoogvliet supermarket and the local pub and into the church, with each choir wearing its own robes.
The music we sang at the service:
- Introit – Out of the stillness – Shepherd
- Responses – Neary
- Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – Nicholson
- Anthem – Lord, thou hast been our refuge – Vaughn Williams
- Extroit – Irish Blessing – Chilcott