Swiss Archdeaconry Choir Festival



Other archdeaconries have their residential synods, Switzerland has an annual residential choir festival, which brings together members of the choirs across the archdeaconry plus others who wish to experience this opportunity to work and sing together under the direction of an internationally recognised director, providing the music to enhance worship at both a choral evensong and a sung Eucharist.

This year it was Holy Trinity Geneva’s turn to host 50 singers on Easter Saturday and Low Sunday from five choirs across the archdeaconry, Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich and from our sister church, Emmanuel Episcopalian Church, also in Geneva. Mark Jones, well-known as a choir director and organist both in Switzerland and the UK, directed, with Mark Charles, Director of Music, Geneva, on the organ.

Greeted by a generous buffet, guests arrived from 5 p.m. on Friday to fortify themselves before a three-hour practice. Back again at 9 a.m. on Saturday practising continued with pauses for coffee and lunch until shortly before Choral Evensong at 5 p.m.

Opening with the Introit, ‘If ye Love Me, keep my commandments’, by Philip Wilby, this was an evening for music by Edmund Bairstow (1874 -1946) with his settings Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in D, and as anthem, ‘Save Us O Lord while waking’.

The Preces & Responses were by John Sanders and Psalm 150 was sung to a setting by C.V. Stanford. The Festival has a tradition of singing works in English. Dinner followed in the church hall with a Cana of Galilee moment when water was not turned into wine, but reserve stocks did miraculously appear.

The choirs returned at 9 a.m. on Sunday to practise for a further hour before accompanying the Eucharist. This time it was the turn of English composer, John Ireland (1879-1962) with the choir singing the whole of his Communion in C, Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, supplemented by a suitably joyous and fittingly Easter anthem, ‘The Strife is O’er’ by Richard Shepherd.

Somehow everyone crammed into the Chancel along with candle bearers and servers, making a merry noise on a merry and deeply spiritual occasion.