An educational journey through choral singing

An educational journey through choral singing
Victoria Liedbergius, Sweden and María Catalina Prieto, Colombia
Maybe you, as a reader, will find it strange that this article should be written by two
persons who were born in two extremely different places of the world. What can a
Swedish and a Colombian girl possibly have in common? Well, actually we have
more in common and more to share than anyone can imagine, and all of this was
possible to the unique magic of choral singing.
10 years ago things probably may have looked different, but today almost anything
is possible. We live in a world getting smaller everyday, where distance is no
longer a problem for communicating, a world that provides us with all the tools to
be able to meet each other. Nevertheless, even though the physical boundaries
tend to disappear, barriers still exist all over the world, which is shown by the many
conflicts between countries caused by the lack of understanding, the
understanding of that others might have more in common with you than what you
ever imagined.
“A choir is never stronger than its weakest link”
Singing in a choir is not just about singing, it requires an open mind, a will to
cooperate and to make compromises; to achieve a good musical result you need to
care about the group of singers just as much as the music. Through choral music
we have realised that the concept of “learning” nowadays is much broader than
what we get to learn inside a classroom. Your social values and abilities are now
just as highly appreciated as your technical knowledge. This is not, as some
people might think, something that you are born with or not, it is all about learning.
We learned this and much more in an excellent school, not an expensive or
traditional one, but a life-changing project; a project building bridges of youth by
means of high-quality music, creating lifelong links between human beings, giving
you the right to be different because being different is the first step towards
speaking the same language, giving the audience and the singers the chance to
have the world on stage. It is called the World Youth Choir.
For someone who has not experienced the World Youth Choir, it might be difficult
to understand the magnificence of its nature but perhaps the words of its manager,
Vladimir Opacic, can put it better:
“The World Youth Choir was, is and will be the unique project on this planet which
brings people from different cultures and nations together for an unforgettable
moment of their lives. It gives people the chance to develop themselves in every
possible aspect of their beings and through music be able to learn the real essence
of life...”
For three weeks twice a year, 80 young singers from all over the world have the
chance to interact while making high quality music. People should not be surprised
that after the session one is able to say “good morning” in more than seven
languages, one can understand the reality of what the news show every night
about a specific region of the world, and has even made professional contacts. The
audience can feel the special connection that is taking place on the stage; a World
Youth Choir concert is unforgettable both for the singers and the audience who
have attended it. It gives people the hope of a different world; for sure it makes
better people, better citizens, better human beings. Sometimes the members
cannot talk to each other but on stage they are all the same; they can hold hands
or dance or smile, but always together because there is only one word the one that
belongs to all.
So this is how this Swedish and this Colombian met. Someday in the middle of a
session we realised how similar we were, how we could recognise that we had the
same dreams and thoughts. We could see how it can be possible, despite our
different environments, to share so many things! Among those, we both had the
firm conviction that it was worth working for the choir life in the world, starting with
the World Youth Choir network for which we had to make things happen, that
singers (and especially both of us) needed to give back a little from what we had
received by living this experience. The singers are all ambassadors of tolerance
and peace, the reason why UNESCO has given the choir the title: Artist for Peace.