Chamber choir welcomes German counterparts to St Albans as part of town twinning project

PUBLISHED: 14:43 25 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:43 25 April 2019

The civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

The civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

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Visitors from a German town which is twinned with St Albans are celebrating the 50-year partnership between their two choirs.

Wormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listmann with St Albans-Worms Partnership chair Valerie Goodyear-Burrow at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert RauWormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listmann with St Albans-Worms Partnership chair Valerie Goodyear-Burrow at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert Rau

The Wormser Kantorei, from Worms in Germany, partnered with St Albans Chamber Choir in 1969, and take it in turns to host a joint concert every two years.

This year the 50th anniversary concert will be held at St Albans Cathedral, and also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Chamber Choir.

Members of the Wormser Kantorei were welcomed by the mayor, Cllr Rosemary Farmer, in a civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery on Wednesday, April 24.

Wormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listmann at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert RauWormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listmann at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert Rau

Kantorei chairman Hubert Listmann, who has been involved with town twinning for 30 years, said: “At the end of this visit the St Albans Chamber Choir will be invited to come to Worms in two years' time.

“This time we have 44 people from Worms in St Albans. There have been 27 meetings between the two choirs in the last 50 years. 
“Our friendly relationship has gone on for many, many years.”

Hubert also lived in St Albans in the 1963 to 1964 academic year and taught at Verulam School.

Wormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listman with mayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert RauWormser Kantorei chairman Hubert Listman with mayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery. Picture: Norbert Rau

The St Albans-Worms Partnership, which is separate from the town twinning, was formed in 1995.

Valerie Goodyear-Burrow, who has been chair of the Partnership since 2005, said: “We're treated like royalty in Worms. We love it there. It's a big city in comparison to ours.

“The mayor always welcomes the group from St Albans and says 'and now the one and only Valerie'. They always get me to say something and I always end up crying.

Chamber Choir chairman Ralph Penny at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert RauChamber Choir chairman Ralph Penny at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

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“It's just a lovely place.”

At the civic reception, Cllr Annie Brewster, portfolio holder for sport, leisure and heritage, thanked Wormser Kantorei for its ongoing support of the Museum + Gallery, and announced that its name will be engraved in the basement as a permanent thank you.

Cllr Annie Brewster at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert RauCllr Annie Brewster at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

She said: “I can't tell you how kind and generous you were on my visit to Worms as mayor in 2013/2014.”

A square in Worms was also named St Albans Square a few years ago in honour of the town twinning.

St Albans Chamber Choir chairman Ralph Penny addressed the Wormser Kantorei, saying: “Members of the Kantorei have been here 13 times. There are many long-standing friendships that have come out of the collaboration between the two choirs.

Cllr Annie Brewster at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert RauCllr Annie Brewster at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

“This may be the last time we collaborate as members of two countries belonging to the EU. Despite the little Englander view we get from some members of society, nevertheless we are fully committed to our partnership with you and we look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration and singing.”

As well as the numerous friendships that have formed, one couple, a woman from Worms and a man from St Albans, met through the various visits between the cities and have been married for around 23 years.

Following the speeches, the Kantorei and Chamber Choir sang together and Hubert presented the mayor and Valerie with alcohol from Worms and engraved glasses marking the 50-year partnership.

Mayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert RauMayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer at the civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

Speaking after the reception, Cllr Brewster said: “My highlight was hearing the two nations in harmony, singing so magnificently in the magnificent Assembly Room - what it was built for!”

The concert will be held at St Albans Abbey at 7.30pm on Saturday, featuring music from a mix of English and Austrian composers. The choirs will perform Mozart's Coronation Mass, Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, Handel's Zadok the Priest and Alwyn's The Innumerable Dance.

The music will be conducted by the choir's two musical directors, John Gibbons and Stefan Merkelbach.

The civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert RauThe civic reception at St Albans Museum + Gallery to welcome the Wormser Kantorei. Picture: Norbert Rau

Tickets are available at the Cathedral, online at www.stalbanscathedral.org or by calling 01727 890290.

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