In May 2015, members of the choir visited Braunschweig in Northern Germany, where we took part in a memorable concert to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

The Hampshire Chronicle subsequently carried the following report. We also performed our own concert in the nearby city of Goslar and a review of that event can also be found below.


SOUTHERN VOICES HEARD IN UNITED TRIBUTE TO VE DAY

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Members of a Winchester choir have returned from Germany after performing a VE Day commemoration
Twenty-one singers from Southern Voices joined choirs from Poland, Germany and Latvia and soloists from France to take part in the work marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
The concert, at the beginning of May, was held in St Katharine’s Church in Braunschweig and also featured the church’s choir.
In the first part of the concert, each choir sang appropriate music from its home country and Southern Voices and their conductor, Katherine Dienes-Williams, contributed pieces by William Byrd, Douglas Guest and Hubert Parry.
In the second part, all the choirs came together with soloists and orchestra to give the world premiere of
Pro Pace by Jochen Modess - an hour-long piece inspired by the words of Saint Francis of Assisi “Make me an instrument of your peace”.
The conductor was Claus-Eduard Hecker, music director at Saint Katharine’s Church. Southern Voices’ chairman, John Lunt, said: “The venture came from an initial approach to our conductor, Katherine, who has known Mr Hecker for some years.
“The concert was truly memorable and incredibly moving.
“It was a privilege to make music on the theme of peace in a city which itself suffered serious war damage and which until 1989 was overshadowed by the presence of the nearby frontier with the Soviet capital Bloc.
“We received wonderful hospitality and made many new friends.
“It may be a cliche, but music is a universal language and links of this sort are extremely valuable.
“I hope it will be possible to welcome the Braunschweig choir to Winchester in the not too distant future.”



The following is an unofficial translation of the review that appeared in the German press - click on the image to view the original.

GZ review
IMPRESSIVE CONCERT MARKING THE END OF THE WAR

The choir “Southern Voices” from Winchester creates a programme of British music for the anniversary of the liberation.

Within the framework of events in Braunschweig marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Southern Voices, a choir from Winchester in Great Britain, were also guests in the City of the Lion*, and included in their stay a stirring concert in the Neuwerkkirche, Goslar.
Under the direction of Katherine Dienes-Williams, the ensemble made an intense impression with the standard of its singing and with its repertoire. With the title “The Peace of God” the choir director had assembled choral works from the romantic and modern eras, the texts of which (fortunately translated and reproduced in the programme booklet) represented a commitment to the spiritual message of peace in the Gospels.
In all the works, the choir showed itself to be exceedingly versatile and well adapted to the inevitable resonance. Often the singers visibly enjoyed using the long echo, performing their music in the crossing of the church. The choir was to be heard singing clearly, precisely, with the text clearly intelligible, and with a refined sound. From a gentle piano to a powerful fortissimo (and the transitions from one to the other were undertaken with fluency) it was obvious: with this choir everything is musically possible.
Katherine Dienes-Williams showed herself to be a highly experienced organist. She allowed Bach’s Fugue in E flat BWV552 to flow powerfully, and she presented the “Elegy” from the pen of Charles Hubert Hastings Parry in an aura of late romantic sound.
Adventurous but successful: John Ireland’s “Greater love hath no man” sung from the crossing accompanied by the organ is, in this acoustic, risky. Yet the result was very convincing, with the help of a co-director from within the choir. A powerful work, powerfully presented.
That the choir can hold its own in fairly modern music was shown by the choristers in John Rutter’s “The Lord bless you and keep you”, and above all in Arvo Pärt’s “The Beatitudes” – an impressive end to the concert. Long applause from the audience thanked the performers for their intensely musical greeting of friendship from Winchester, seventy years after the end of the Second World War.

* Braunschweig was the city of Henry the Lion in the 12th century, and has become known as die Löwenstadt – the City of the Lion.