German choir tradition in Central London
The German Choir of London, founded in 2009, has established itself as one of London’s leading amateur choirs. In a sociable, friendly atmosphere, we perfect classical German choral masterpieces such as Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Brahms’ German Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana, as well as contemporary music and commissioned pieces of composers around the globe. Rehearsals are in German. The choir has performed in some amazing venues around London, Paris, Brussels and Rome. Our projects often involve collaborations with cultural institutions and explore topics and themes of social or historical importance – we make music with a meaning.
Concerts & Projects
- Sophie Scholl Passion – St Matthew Passion
17/03/22 at 7 pm at Southwark Cathedral, London
19/03/22 at 6.30 pm at Coventry Cathedral, Coventry
Hans and Sophie Scholl are amongst the most famous personalities in Germany. Nearly every town has a Scholl Square, a Geschwister Scholl School, or a Sophie Scholl Street. Their lives are a set part of the German history curriculum in every school and every year new books, documentaries and films about their lives are being published.
On May 9, 2021, it would have been Sophie Scholl’s 100th Birthday.
The lives of Hans and Sophie Scholl, founder of the White Rose resistance group is widely unknown in the UK. That there was resistance in the public during NS time is for many British still news, having learnt at school mainly about the obeying Germans during the war and the enormous following for Hitler.
The German Choir of London wants to tell a different story.
For this concert the German Choir commissioned a play that accompanies J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion to highlight the story of Sophie Scholl, executed by the Gestapo in 1943 for opposing Hitler with a campaign of non-violence during the Second World War.
The concert will tell the story of Sophie, confined in Stadelheim Prison, Munich in the period before her death, through an original libretto created by playwright Ross McGregor, by combining letters, newspaper articles, the White Rose leaflets and court protocols with the music of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
This new interpretation will be performed with the German Choir of London and Coventry Cathedral Choir in Southwark Cathedral (17 March) and Coventry Cathedral (19 March). It will encourage us to remember that the courage of Sophie Scholl and her fellow conspirators is an inspiration through time, a reminder that fighting injustice, fighting against systems which are wrong, even against the greatest odds, is truly a message of our time.
- Tour to Rome
03/10/21 St. Peter´s Basilica and Santa Maria dell’ Anima, Rome
Summertime is really at its end now, but we are super thankful for having the best ending to ours. Our trip to Rome will stay in our memories forever. It was such an experience singing during the Sunday service at St Peter’s Basilica and a concert at Santa Maria dell’ Anima and spending quality time with current and former members of the choir.
We rehearse Tuesdays from 7 pm to 9.30 pm …
… at the Deutsche Ev. Christuskirche, Knightsbridge.
Come along to our rehearsals for a few weeks to see if we are the right choir for you.
We are an amateur choir working to a high standard. Our rehearsals are in German. After a number of rehearsals we invite interested singers to an informal audition with our Musical Director Barbara Höfling. During our rehearsals we focus on expression, language and historically sensitive interpretation.
We give our members the opportunity to develop their vocal strengths and skills through vocal training sessions run by Barbara Höfling and guest coaches. For members interested in solo performances and greater exposure, we run solo ensembles.
The choir provides members with a friendly social circle. Over the years, many friendships have been formed and the odd couples too. After rehearsals, you can find several members making their way to the pub to socialise. We have a lot of fun!
We sometimes take trips abroad for performances or social choir retreats. Expect between 2 to 4 performances outside the UK each year.
We look forward to hearing from you!
In the beginning
In 2009, a small group of music enthusiasts started coming together regularly to sing at services of the Deutsche Ev. Christuskirche in Knightsbridge. On the initiative of Barbara Höfling, this group became a permanent ensemble.
Over ten years on, we are a diverse, international choir of around 60 singers, with a wide-ranging repertoire and a busy performance schedule. The choir has attracted the attention of both German and UK television and has been featured in the musical press.
What we sing
The German choral masterpieces of the seventeenth to late nineteenth centuries (Schütz, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Mendelssohn and many more) form the heart of our repertoire. We also perform classical choral music from outside the Austro-German tradition including British, Italian and US composers.
Contemporary music is an important part of what we do. We regularly perform new works, some of them specially commissioned for us.
We have a long tradition of collaboration with other choirs and ensembles for our CDs, concerts and services. They include the choirs of King’s College Cambridge and St-Martin-in-the-Fields, the German Choir Paris, the UK Parliament Choir, Canterbury Cathedral Choir, Coventry Cathedral Choir, and the choirs of many of the different Lutheran congregations in London for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
Making music with a meaning
With inventiveness and drive, Barbara Höfling ensures that we don’t simply perform pieces in isolation – beautiful as they may be – but that we use music to make our audience think about topics and events of social and historic importance. We regularly raise funds for charity as well as awareness of issues we care about. Some of our past projects are:
Blessed are the Peacemakers: For the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018, we went on a tour of ten cathedrals around the UK and travelled to Ypres and Brussels to sing war poetry set to music by Orlando Gough. Under the title “Blessed are the Peacemakers” we commemorated those who worked for peace in times of war.
A European celebration: As the UK prepared to leave the European Union in 2019, we celebrated the power of music to cross borders by staging a concert featuring 28 pieces in many of the European languages.
Corona Commissions: As the Corona virus hit the UK, we fundraised to commission 10 composers who had their livelihood threatened by the pandemic to write new choral pieces for us. Eight Corona Commissions are on the topic of fear, as well as arrangements of two German Christmas carols.
Voices against Violence: During COVID-related lockdowns, domestic violence increased in the UK. We used our voices to produce an awareness clip for social media, in collaboration with composer Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres, producer Aaron Trinder, and professionals working with victims of domestic violence. This initiative was commissioned by the German Embassy London and Goethe Institute London.
Voices.Europe: With challenges such as isolation, restrictions on movement, and social distancing requirements in mind, Michael Langemann has created his Voices.Europe composition as a sound event consisting of five modules in various languages. Over 180 singers from amateur choirs from Rome, London, and Paris recorded this cooperation between the Goethe-Institut London, Paris, Rome and the Ars.Electronica Festival.
Where we sing
The diversity of our performance venues is something we are proud of.
We have also taken part in services at St Paul’s Cathedral, St-Martin-in-the-Fields, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and Westminster Abbey, as well as performing in a number of beautiful London churches and in the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Trips abroad have taken us to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, Brussels Cathedral, to Ypres and Conques.
The choir retains a strong link with its place of origin, the Deutsche Ev. Christuskirche in Knightsbridge. We sing at a couple of church services during the year, as well as rehearsing there.
The Musical Director
I believe in the power of music to move people, to create communities beyond perceived borders, to create a better world in the here and now. Music speaks to us in our own language, in our own emotion and this with a clarity and urgency that reaches beyond words. To create a group in harmony, teach them to sing!
I studied violin, singing and conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover. I soon after discovered my passion for choral music. I sang with some of the most amazing choirs and ensembles in the world: RIAS Chamber Choir, BBC Singers, Berlin Radio Choir, Hamburg Radio Choir, Monteverdi Choir, London Voices to name just a few. The experience I gained from that is what I love passing on to singers in my choirs, but also virtually all over the world.
I believe that choral work should be a healthy mixture of voice technique, historically informed work on the repertoire and tons of fun. Because in the end it’s the fun that will give not just us performers but also the audience a good time.
Deutsche Ev. Christuskirche
18 Montpelier Place