EARLY in July there will be an historic event at Westminster, when our own Parliament Choir joins with the choir of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, to perform Mendelssohn’s Second Symphony.
The concert will take place in Westminster Hall and forms part of the programme of events to remember the centenary of the First World War and all those involved in the conflict.
The concert also marks the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian monarchy.
You might think that the members of the Parliament Choir are all Members of Parliament and peers, but in fact anyone who either works in or used to work in the Palace of Westminster can take part. There are people who work for MPs, as well as staff of both Houses of Parliament, like clerks or librarians.
We are all united by our love of music and so, too, are our guests from the Bundestag. This cultural exchange between Britain and Germany will be accompanied by a formal visit by the President of the Bundestag and meetings between politicians from both countries.
The Parliament Choir has been in existence since 2000 when it was decided that, with our unconventional working hours, effectively only by starting up our own choir could many of us have the opportunity for music-making. In any other choir it would be impossible for some of the participants to leave en masse when the division bell rings for a parliamentary vote. Our musical director, Simon Over, is tremendously forgiving!
I had great fun taking part in the Parliament Choir’s Christmas concert (which, like other of our performances) was broadcast on Classic FM, when I was asked to read from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas.
This concert will be less light-hearted, given the ceremonial theme of the evening, but just as heart-felt. The centrepiece of the programme will be Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang or Hymn of Praise, written in 1840 and with lyrics drawn from the Psalms. The two choirs will be accompanied by the Southbank Sinfonia.
Members of the public will be very welcome if they wish to attend the concert, on Wednesday 9 July. Details of how to obtain tickets (at prices from £11 to £36) are on the choir’s website, www.parliamentchoir.org.uk.