KOORBIENNALE 8 – Secret Venues, Singing and Cycling

urlI need to start this post with a confession. I hate choir music. Being unable to sing outside the shower, means I don’t understand the reported joy of singing one’s heart out in a group setting. Same with laughter groups.  Forced exposure of one’s inner-self makes me uncomfortable – albeit I love a good cackle. So when my husband suggested that we buy tickets (€22) to Haarlem’s Korennacht, I agreed – but only on the principle of “trying new things”.

Korennacht kicked off at 10pm outside the Bavo Cathedral in the Grote Markt. About 150 people assembled with their bikes, were split into three groups and color-coded. The plan was for the group leaders to cycle with their group to five secret locations around Haarlem.  In each location a different choir would perform for less than half an hour.

First stop for the ‘yellow group’ was the Societeit Vereeniging (Zijlstraat) – and a performance by a student ensemble from Codarts Rotterdam. Modern, young, enthusiastic performance of four english songs.

Next to Rosenstock Huessyhuis with vocal quartet Quartre Bouches. This venue seemed to be a hidden chapel, with the four singers hidden in the audience. Amazing array of sounds and talent obvious in this program.

Third venue was the hallway of the new Hart Muziekschool. The 25 member choir began singing on the floor above – sending beautiful sounds throughout the building before emerging down the stairwell to stand in single file between the two seated rows of the audience.

The Tallismen performed in the crypt of the St Bavo Basilica (Westergracht). This ensemble consisted of four young men, all graduates from the Rotterdam Conservatorium. Undoubtedly a very talented choir, who confidently sang in the basement of this grand, renovated building.
Finally sometime after midnight we cycled back to the Grote Markt and entered the other St Bavo Cathedral. We purchased a glass of wine to enjoy with the songs from the Nederlands Kamerkoor. Yet another amazing experience – being in this majestic building watching and listening to a highly polished group of singers.
And that was it. A totally mindblowing experience of being in fantastic venues that I was unaware of – listening to vocal talents I had previously not appreciated. While choirs are still not something for me, I would definitely recommend 2016 Haarlem’s Koornacht to anyone looking to expand their mental and architectural horizons!