Berwick male voice choir has been treated to a twin surprise by German and Norwegian friends in its 50th anniversary year.
Berwick’s twin towns of Haan, near Dusseldorf, and Sarpsborg, near Oslo, conspired to surprise the Berwick choir when it visited Haan to sing with the male voice choir there, the Haaner Männergesangverein.
The Haan visit was one of the highlights of the Berwick choir’s 50th anniversary year. However there was some sadness in Berwick that a visit from the Sarpsborg Sangforening, the male voice choir from Sarpsborg, which has links with Berwick dating back to the 1960s, had not been arranged.
But unbeknown to Berwick, the Haan and Sarpsborg choirs had conspired to arrange a special concert of the three choirs. A 60-strong party had secretly flown from Oslo to Dusseldorf, managing, amazingly, to keep this from BMVC right up until the Berwickers arrived at the concert hall! When the Berwick visitors had got over the huge surprise, and the Germans and Norwegians were finally able to contain their glee at keeping the secret under wraps, the concert proceeded before an enthusiastic full house. A combined finale rounded off the evening in spectacular style, when all 75 singers sang ‘All night, all day’ and ‘When the saints’.
Now back on home soil, the Berwick choir is urging other groups to forge relationships with the twin towns. BMVC secretary Forbes Gamley said: “These twin town choir visits are important to Berwick because most of the links between these towns now revolve around the male voice choirs.
“Individual relationships between folk in all three towns have been built up painstakingly over many years now; but there are hardly any other groups building on these foundations. It would be a great shame if the links were lost.”
The Bürgermeister of Haan, Knut vom Bovert, is extremely keen to see the links with Berwick continued and expanded, and will support any initiative (see http://www.haan.de/).
Also Sarpsborg, 2016 sees the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the town – and the Sarpsborg Sangforening’s 150th birthday, so there will be excellent opportunities for groups wishing to travel or host visits (see http://sarpsborgsangforening.blogspot.no/).