World Choral Expo 2022 in Lisbon & Oeiras, Portugal


Isabelle Métrope, Managing Editor of the International Choral Magazine

From 3rd to 7th September, the choral world met in Portugal, and this was a magical event. The offer was huge, from the workshops to the sessions of the EXchange Programme and to the conducting masterclass with Frieder Bernius, from amazing gala concerts in the Centro Cultural de Belém to more intimate performances in the churches of the region, from a magical sunset party in an historical fortress to an unforgettable closing night with several hundreds of “Colorful Voices” singers on stage.

The welcome party in the historical Forte de São Julião da Barra in Lisbon was promising. Surrounded by the sunset on the ocean, 2000 participants (audience included) who came from all over the world (more than 20 countries were represented) could meet new and old colleagues and listen to a unique traditional performance by CRAMOL, a local women’s choir. On the next day, the daily programme started and the IFCM General Assembly took place in the IFCM headquarters, the Palacete dos Condes de Monte Real. That night, the Kammerchor Stuttgart gave the first gala concert of the WCE under the baton of its founder Frieder Bernius – closed by Schönberg’s “Peace on earth”, a symbolic piece of music if there was any.

On the following days, the WCE participants could get inspiration at more than 50 workshops and sessions, listen to round 20 concerts, discover young conductors from 7 different countries rehearsing and learning in the conducting masterclass, and network with colleagues from all over the world.

Ordinarius © Irvinne Redor / IFCM

The sessions were extremely multifaceted. Some dealt with music practice (pedagogy, singing with seniors or children, warm ups, six ways of singing one song, repertoire sources…), others presented the vocal traditions of a particular region of the world (jewels of microtonal singing in Turkey, singing traditions in Portugal, Brazilian vocal music … ) and others touched upon special aspects of choral life (the use of trauma-Informed community music practice in enabling narrative through song writing; sing me in: using collective singing as a tool for the inclusion of young migrants; choral singing in prisons; singer identity … ). The real challenge was rather to choose which one to attend!

“When in doubt – Sing it Out”

The concerts were at a high standard, heart-opening and reflecting many facets of choral music (as you can see from the pictures!). A lot of participants of the World Choral Expo were attending their first big choir concert in more than 2 years. The feeling when seeing all these singers as well as an audience fascinated by, and sharing the musical pleasure, just warmed my heart, and I felt close to emotional tears several times.

Maze © Irvinne Redor / IFCM


So, you will probably think: “Great, and when is the next going to take place?”. Well, as for the World Choral Expo, the next date has not yet been decided. But as for the next amazing meeting of the choral world, this will for sure be the World Symposium of Choral Music 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. This city is the perfect place to illustrate the WSCM ’23 theme “Changing Horizons”. IFCM President Emily Kuo Vong welcomed H.E. Ms. Özgül Özkan Yavuz, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, on the closing night, who invited all the participants to Istanbul next year. Do you want to be a part of it? Then follow and bookmark

Closing Plenary Session of the EXchange! Programme presented by Sonja Greiner and Jan Schumacher
© Ki Adams


IFCM also extends its appreciation to the incredible team of YOUNGs. YOUNG is a new International Cultural Management Program launched by IFCM earlier this year. During their first weekend in Lisbon, ten young managers, who were selected in May 2022, attended roundtables and seminars and learned about the multiple and varied aspects of preparing and managing a cultural event.

Our YOUNG participants were key to the successful realization of the World Choral EXPO 2022. There is no doubt that these young IFCM members will also play a vital role for the future of choral music around the world. A big thank you to all of them: Frida Zarrán Vallesi (Argentina), Anna Palcsó (Hungary), Aleksandra Āboliņa (Latvia), Jovana Kuzmanović (Serbia), Farzad Omidi (Iran), Pauline Therese Arejola (Philippines), Anna Bobrikova (Finland), Tisa Mrhar (Slovenia), Valerie Konings (Belgium), Pichatorn Sopachitwattana (Thailand).


YOUNG participants 2022 © Irvinne Redor / IFCM

Edited by Irene Auerbach, UK