Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir – Intangible Cultural Heritage?

Among the traditional European boys’ and men’s choirs, efforts are now being made to include the boys’ choir and choir school tradition in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. On 26 September 2019, more than 600 boys’ choir singers, representatives from Danish and international music, politicians, parents and others participated in a large UNESCO meeting at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium, home of The Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir.

Part of a unique practice

Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir is a part of a unique practice, the boys’ and men’s choir, which for 1500 years has carried compositions of the greatest composers of the time forward – from the medieval unisone song to the Renaissance polyphony and the great symphonic choirs by Bach, Händel, Haydn, and Schubert.

The choir boys at Our Lady Church in Copenhagen were associated with Christian IV’s Kantori (chorus). Inspired by a visit by Bach’s Thomaner Chor almost 100 years ago, The Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir gained its present identity with a municipal-run singing school as its home – and with the clear charter to perform the choral music composed for boys’ and men’s voices; exactly as it is intended.

In our time there is a great interest in how music was originally performed: How was the “authentic” sound?

Here, the choir schools offer a solid tradition of keeping this particular culture of sound straight. And care must be taken about the music, the choir schools and the practices that have created this particular musical expression for centuries.

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Photos: Jacob Ægidius