On Sunday it was back on site at Buttes New British Cemetery for another full day’s rehearsal for the Anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood.
The choristers were able to check out the site more, while also making friends with the Australian Army Band musicians, led by their conductor Major Glenn Rogers. As a gesture of appreciation for their great work, we gave them Birralee badges.
Rehearsal included running through the full service for Tuesday morning. It gave the choristers a chance to get an idea of what they can expect, including preparing them for how emotional it will be. A roll of honour was played showing the number of young men lost, all of similar age to our singers.
After rehearsals, we headed to Sint Maartenskerk, a catholic cathedral in Kortrijk to provide the music for the evening’s mass. This beautiful church with gothic architecture, opened in 1390 and like many churches throughout Europe, it has amazing acoustics.
It was such a change to sing inside the cathedral compared to singing outside all day for rehearsals. Our voices carried beautifully throughout the arches of the church no matter how softly we sang.
At the end of the service, the priest loudly clapped and the congregation followed, giving our choristers a standing ovation.
(On a side note, we were delighted to see one of the International Singers – who we performed a concert with on Sunday – come and watch us perform!)
After the mass, the Pro Ecclesia Choir hosted us for wine and cake and it was lovely chatting with the choristers and other members of the church.
They showed us such wonderful hospitality and the organist, Dirk Blockeel, gave us an exclusive performance of Bach, allowing us to hear the music reverberate throughout this acoustically stunning space.
Thank you very much to Dirk and Hugo van Malder for hosting us so well – it was such a unique experience for all!
Next up, Monday.
Our choristers will have a break from rehearsals and are heading to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in Zonnebeke before performing at The Last Post Ceremony, at Menin Gate tonight.
We’ll then be having a few hours’ sleep prior to what we’re all here for, performing at the Dawn Service for the Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood.
On Tuesday, you can watch the livestream of the event, with the pre-service via YouTube from 1.05pm (Aust time), and then the Dawn Service from 1.30pm (Aust time) – watch via YouTube or on the ABC. YouTube link here.
#belvob2017 #ww1 #wewillrememberthem