Thousand voices for peace - Belgium

Project: Thousand Voices for Peace,  Brussels

39 national and international choirs participated in a homage to peace, organised by Flanders Festival Brussels. More than 1000 professional and non-professional singers from countries that were involved in the First World War a hundred years ago are now standing side by side. 17 foreign and 22 Belgian choirs met between 3 and 9 November 2014.

Colom, the choir of Unesco Atheneum Koekelberg, was established through 1000 Voices for Peace. In the spring of 2014, project manager Anthony Heidweiller and Brussels Philharmonic first cellist Luc Tooten led two intense days of workshops. As a result, 53 students chose to participate in 1000 Voices for Peace. A new choir was born.

They elaborated on the story that particularly touched them all during the workshops: in 1989, the Baltic States with their Singing Revolution proved that singing together can make the difference. Through song, the inhabitants of these countries regained their independence from the Soviet Union.

Heidweiller led two intensive singing workshops in that school in spring. His infectious enthusiasm caught on and about 80 young people signed up. Even though they had never sung or listened to ‘classical music’, they wanted to be part of ‘1,000 Voices for Peace’. It was only a small step, then, to start their own choir. And it was given the telling name ‘Colom’, pigeon in Catalan. This new choir is like a cross-section of the Brussels population: young people from diverse backgrounds are singing together and in that way symbolise living together and the hopeful dream of a (more) harmonious future.

In the week of 3 to 9 November 2014, the young singers of our choir Colom met the Estonian choir Voces Musicales.

A week of meeting and singing together was awarded with an unforgettable final concert on 9 November during which all 1300 singers sang together, together with the Brussels Philharmonic. It was an inspired plea for peace in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Koekelberg Basilica). 

The world premiere of composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s Dies Illa symbolises the urgency of the message of 1000 Voices for Peace: HOPE! The hope that we must always keep alive to strive for a peaceful global community. Penderecki dedicates his work to all victims of the First World War. Under the patronage of Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, Flanders Festival Brussels will make its contribution to commemorating the Great War.

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