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The VOICE Project

--- This article was published in the "European Choral Magazine" 1/2014 ---


The VOICE project, a major new cooperative venture between choral organisers, music educators and researchers, is a European project for the sustainable development of, and innovation in, choral singing. Under the motto “Vision On Innovation for Choral Music in Europe,” the project gathers fourteen co-organisers in eleven countries.


Over a three-year period (2012-2015), the project’s goals are to:

• encourage new events and methods

• encourage the creation of innovative repertoire

• promote the voice as a universal instrument

• improve the quality of vocal music

• enable transnational mobility and circulation of (young) musicians and choral works

• enhance the dialogue and exchange of expertise between cultures and generations

• develop new tools for the promotion of singing in music education


VOICE also invests in research on the voice in partnership with universities and collects data on choral life in Europe. The fourteen partners will share the results to develop a new vision of choral singing in Europe. Its global budget is about 2,4 million euro, with a EU grant covering 50% of the costs. This signals a major interest on the part of the European Union towards our art form.



VOICE in 2013


2013 was a very intense year for the VOICE project. Throughout the year, festivals, master classes, conferences and research programmes offered people unique opportunities to come together and share new ideas, music and good times.


In July, about 1000 young singers gathered in Bonn, Germany for the “Youth Choirs In Movement” festival. Half of them were coming from other countries and were accommodated by the German singers’ families, creating strong interpersonal bonds. For a week, they had a chance to attend ateliers, visit the city, share activities, and perform a concert on the last evening to a full house.

During the Masterclass in Vaison la Romaine, France, fifteen conductors were offered the opportunity to work under the direction of Brady Allred and perform with the world-class Japanese “Harmonia Choir” right before the start of the Choralies festival.

Vaison may be known for its exceptional weather, but the temperature went up a notch in Girona, Spain during the “Mediterranean Voices Conference” organised by Moviment Coral Català. An intensive programme offered a 360° outlook on the riches of Mediterranean vocal traditions through conferences, presentations, performances and concerts that spread through the Catalan city, ending up in an incredible transnational vocal duel party during the final concert!


Partying was also, of course, on the menu of the Eurochoir 2013 in Pécs, Hungary. How could it not be when you bring together sixty-three talented young singers from as many as twenty-two countries to sing and live together for a week?

Just have a look at the video of the final concert on our website, and you‘ll realise that the real fun was not to be found in bars; it radiated from the singers proudly showcasing the result of their hard work under the direction of Tamás Lakner (HU) and Alessandro Cadario (IT).

By the way, some of the Eurochoir singers also attended the “Urban Youth Choir Festival” in Örebro, Sweden, where they met with other Europeans, discovered new ways of singing together in “urban style,” and performed in the connection with the Live At Heart rock festival.


The VOICE project then travelled to the Southern point of Europe, in Limassol, Cyprus, for an exciting edition of Choral Crossroads, a meeting of 200 singers from six choirs from Estonia, Egypt, Lebanon, Hungary and Cyprus, sharing rehearsals, concerts and sunny beaches.

This event, set up in cooperation with Kóta, Moviment Coral Català and the Arab Academy of Music, was coupled with a Mediterranean Choral Forum, following up on the Girona VOICES Conference, that gathered speakers from the whole Mediterranean area to work together and discuss the challenges and importance of networking in the choral Mediterranean space.

The project was back in Örebro for a week-long conducting master class under the direction of Andrew Parrott. The conductors were trained to conduct both a choir and an orchestra with a selection of demanding pieces. The outcome was stunning, to the delight of the audience of the two final concerts.


All the organisers then gathered in Pécs for the conference “Inspiring Cooperation through VOICE” that took place during the General Assembly of the European Choral Association. They were able to share their experiences in cooperation through presentations, workshops, and informal moments with the visiting members and the audience of the conference. You will find some of the communications regarding the conference in the pages of this magazine and on our website.






But the VOICE project is not only about people gathering from all over Europe to sing, conduct or discover each other. We are using this incredible network to foster innovation through research programmes that can benefit the whole singing community. There is, of course, the Singing Europe research initiative about which you can read on p. 12. In 2013, the research of Koor&Stem (Belgium) reached an important milestone with the publication of the report on “A voice for vocal training.” Koor&Stem has made an extensive inventory of initiatives promoting singing in primary schools in European countries. They have undertaken and analysed, with a panel of experts and VOICE partners, more than 110 projects and initiatives. The report presents, in a very reader-friendly way, a selection of thirty projects that provide organisations across Europe with new ideas and precious tools with which to implement them. The report and information on all the 110 projects submitted are accessible on their website for free!


Another team is working in Belgium to develop information for children and youngsters focused on their physical, personal, social, psychological, emotional and cognitive growth. Two sources of information are incorporated in the “Singing Sofa” programme: the results of a European Young Singers Inventory (EYSI) on the needs, concerns and expectations of young singers, and state‐of‐the‐art knowledge of scientific research on the young singing voice. It will lead to the publication of usable recommendations that will benefit the practitioners in the field of youth choirs.





The website lullabiesoftheworld.org, developped in cooperation with Carus Verlag, went online this year. It allows parents to rediscover the joy of singing to their children along a wonderful collection of lullabies collected across the globe. The website is also a great tool for music pedagogues and music therapists.

These wonderful events and research programmes could not have been so successful, and hopefully useful, without the commitment of the project co-organisers. Most of the events were designed and implemented by partner organisations, pooling and sharing ideas and resources. All the partners met for a steering group meeting in Vaison La Romaine during the summer to exchange ideas and think about future cooperation. After a year of running the project and working together, a real team spirit is emerging, and the discussions are becoming richer, fuelled by the magic of collective intelligence.







...and 2014


The year 2014 will be the last for the concrete VOICE activities (the beginning of 2015 being dedicated to the dissemination of results and the preparation of the various reports).


As a follow-up of conferences on singing and music education, the Symposium on Music Education (Budapest – Hungary, April 2014), shall focus on various music education approaches that involve singing, including a strong focus on how the Kodály concept can still be used, despite the fact that basic conditions have changed. The Symposium will gather music pedagogues, professors of teacher-training institutions, conductors, choirs, vocal ensembles and singers from Europe and all over the world, who can present and demonstrate how they use various music education methods.


A new edition of the Master Class for conductors will take place in Vaison la Romaine in July, with Frieder Bernius and the Kammerchor Stuttgart. This will be a unique opportunity to learn in contact with a world-renowned conductor and top-level choir. Learning by doing will also be the key to the next edition of the CAMP (Choral Arts Management Programme). A group of selected young managers will not only meet and learn from experienced professionals during workshops and training sessions. They will have a chance to be embedded in the organisation of the Polyfollia festival and be chaperoned by international choral figures during the world Choral Marketplace, thus benefiting from a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to build up a professional network. And, of course, the whole Polyfollia festival is part of the VOICE project, embodying an innovative approach to supporting the professional singing community; ensembles from across the globe are given a chance to perform in front of an audience of organisers, journalists and other professionals. Since successful projects give birth to new ideas, and on-going cooperation triggers more cooperation, further 2014 activities are currently being discussed among the VOICE partners. You will hear more about these in our newsletters, Websites and other publications in the coming months.


Last but not least, we will dedicate a conference to the dissemination of the results of the project during the General Assembly of ECA-EC in Barcelona in November 2014.



Côme Ferrand Cooper

VOICE project manager

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