Day 2 – the CICF opening ceremony

19th July 2018 – DAY 2

Never did we think that we’d be performing to a packed audience in an ex-Olympic stadium, but that’s exactly what we did today. After a morning rehearsal (with several of us suffering from the rather confusing jet lag!) and another “lazy Susan” lunch, we headed across the city to rehearse for the evening’s performance. As part of the 14th CICF, the Cadillac arena hosted a grand opening ceremony that brought together 59 nations and 16,000 singers from across the whole world. We were asked to perform alongside 17 other countries in the ceremony — choosing to sing Britten’s ‘Green Broom’ from the Five Flower Songs.

On stage rehearsing for the ceremony’s final group number


before opening ceremony
In our green room, just before performing our solo item

We weren’t prepared for the extravagance of the whole event. Every choir had an intricate outfit or their national dress and we quickly found ourselves surrounded by singers from Hong Kong, Zambia, Latvia, Israel, Canada, the USA and many, many other countries. We felt a little intimidated in our smart all-black concert gear! The music was all exciting and varied, with many groups opting for pop tracks as backgrounds, and instruments on stage with the singers — quite the contrast from our a cappella Britten piece, which certainly demonstrated the British choral tradition in its full glory. Ten of us also had the chance to go on stage for the final piece, with representatives of the choirs that had been involved in the opening ceremony. Donning various flags of the world and having quickly memorised the Mandarin we’d be singing (or having tried at least…), we ran onto the stage with the huge crowd, all broadcast live on television to the nation.

Opening ceremony schola
Us performing Britten’s ‘Green Broom’ at the CICF opening ceremony
Schola at opening ceremony
… and with a slightly more colourful backdrop…

Although a slightly surreal experience, it was a pretty unforgettable thing to be part of. It was amazing to meet so many choirs across the world in one place, many of whom had travelled even further than we had!

CICF opening ceremony group song
We are hidden away somewhere, furiously waving flags, along with the 500 other singers on stage for the final song of the CICF opening ceremony

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