After a two-year hiatus, one of the city’s most popular free street festivals is back this week: the Fête de la Musique. This year, the Neukölln district is the focus of the festival, which calls for international street concerts on Midsummer Night on June 21st.
In Neukölln, the Fête de la Musique even starts a day earlier: with an opening concert on Monday in the Gropiusstadt community center, which also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the event.
From 6 p.m. the ensemble of the Komische Oper, the percussion ensemble of the music school Neukölln, the hip hop group “I Hate my Crew” and the Ukrainian exile orchestra Mryia will be playing on several stages.
The stage on Lipschitzplatz will be opened at 6.30 p.m. by the Gropies and the Gropiuslerchen, the choirs of the Neukölln music school, which offers music lessons in the Gropiusstadt community center. The Gropies have been singing together in the settlement on the outskirts of Berlin since 1981. G
The choir was founded as an adult version of the Gropiuslarks; the children’s choir of the music school in Neukölln has existed since 1973. But at some point the larks got older – and still wanted to continue singing together. This is how the Gropies came about, with around 45 people between the ages of 30 and 60 singing along today.
“About half of our current members used to sing with the Gropiuslerchen,” says Simon Krajan from the Gropies on the phone. As a result, many members have an extraordinary amount of experience. He himself has been singing in the choir for almost 40 years, says Krajan.
“And we’ve not only been singing together for decades, we also grew up together,” he says. As a result, a very special sense of community developed over the long period of rehearsals, performances and trips together. The Gropies perform regularly in Berlin and again and again worldwide. Travel to countries such as Italy, the USA and Brazil have expanded the choral repertoire.
What is special is that everyone can sing together again: due to the corona virus, some of the rehearsals during the pandemic only took place digitally. “It was like a one-way street: we heard the choir director, but he didn’t hear us,” says Krajan.
Singing together was only possible again when rehearsals – initially at a distance – became possible again. The Gropies temporarily moved to the multi-storey car park of the Gropiusstadt Passagen. There was simply more space to keep your distance than in the choir rooms of the community center.
“Now we’re catching up on everything that failed over the past two years,” says Krajan. The group was just on a choir trip and performed in the chamber music hall. After the opening of the Fête de la Musique on Monday, they will sing again on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The program includes songs from the Romantic period, sacred pieces, pop songs by the Beatles, gospel music and modern choral pieces that experiment more with sounds. “The focus is on singing together and having fun,” says Krajan. “I think that sounds pretty good – but that’s for the audience to decide.”
The gropies are constantly looking for new singers – as in most choirs, they are mainly looking for singers. Tenors and basses with choral experience would be missing, but all others are also welcome. Anyone interested in singing along can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.