Cranmer Company of Singers in Italy

Concordia by Andrew Spence - bass singer and viola player

 7,000 feet up in the Italian Alps the massive bell began to swing, slowly at first, gradually gathering speed, strangely silent before suddenly exploding into an eruption of sound that filled the green valleys below, shook the snow on the summits, rang round the sunburnt azure of the skies, clapped hands to ears, raised a crescendo of cheers and clapping that went on and on. And on. The massive bell was hung in the year 2000 and named “Concordia”. Thus had the world been united – not by conference or summit or coalition or treaties or negotiated agreement or truces. No. United by music. Eighty-four choirs, 3,300 singers, twenty countries were there on that Alpine peak to celebrate the most wonderful bonding of nations in a spirit of true harmony and friendship. Australia. South Korea. Estonia. Finland. Germany. Israel. Italy. Lithuania. Norway. Poland. Portugal. Czech Republic. Romania. Russia. Slovenia. Spain. South Africa. Hungary.

And Whatton-in-the-Vale.

The first English choir to attend the Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival, now in its 13th successive year high in the Dolomites, so close to the Austrian border that the Italians speak German. The Cranmer Company of Singers. 22 men and women led by their conductor Deborah Davies. A group of men and women singing with over 3,000 other singers from all over the world – mixed choirs, women’s choirs, men’s choirs, children’s choirs. All singing their hearts out. Like a big family. Close-knit. Interdependent. Travelling over 750kms (460 miles) together in five days. Eating and drinking in four star luxury, bloated by the five course evening meals, stunned by the beauty of the snow-capped peaks rearing over the hotel, driving to eleven different venues. Sometimes a magnificent concert hall. Sometimes a glorious church. Sometimes a hillside behind a mountain hut. Sometimes outside a café in a town square. But always the shimmering blue sky, the heat of the sun, the snow.

And what did the other 3,000 singers hear from The Cranmer Company of Singers? Beautiful English music. Music that made them leap. Music that made them cry. Music that made them laugh. Music that made them clap. Music. Tallis. Byrd. Vaughan Williams. Stanford. Goodall. Tavener. Mathias. Henry VIII. Finzi. Bennet. Handel (well, almost English) Holst. McCartney. Yes, they sang Beatles songs. The crowds loved it. In their last performance at 11.30pm outside a café in the square of San Candido, Deborah got Hey Jude going. The crowds loved it. They sang in the square, they clapped in the square, they sang, and they sang, and they sang – and Deborah stopped conducting and led the choir off. And still they sang and sang …… “Take a sad song and make it better … Naaa Naa Naa Na Na Na Naa”. And The Cranmer Company of Singers were having a beer, and still the crowds were singing, “Take a sad song and make it better”. And when Deborah went to collect the certificate at the closing ceremony, the crowds were still singing, “Naaa Naa Naa Na Na Na Naa”.

And the other 83 choirs? Beautiful national costumes. The pure enjoyment of singing. The extraordinary discipline of the children. The precision of the performances. The driving rhythms from Eastern Europe. The lyricism from southern Europe. The haunting Aboriginal melodies from Australia. The relentless throbbing from South Africa. And the smiles. And the support. And the camaraderie. And the clapping. Yes, The Company.

And friendships were formed and promises made, and invitations extended, and eyes met, sometimes moist, and everybody was thinking, Yes, this is what it’s all about, THIS is why we make music.

The world came together for those five days.                                                               Click here to return to the Cranmer Company of Singers main page