International Choral Festivals

Classical Movements produces two international choral festivals that bring together musicians and cultures from around the world.

The Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival has brought 88 international choruses to South Africa since 2009. Since 2011, the Serenade! Choral Festival has brought together over 100 vocal ensembles from 36 countries to the Washington, D.C. area. with a particular emphasis on groups from Asia and Africa. Participants in both festivals represent a wealth of vocal traditions to the edification not only to local audiences, but also to all festival participants.

Choirs from around the world gather for collaborative concerts, outreach events and workshops, culminating in a grand finale concert in which all the choirs perform together. Concerts are held in many of the area’s most prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center, Strathmore Hall and Castleton. Festival lineups deliberately showcase ensembles that present unique traditions that are not frequently highlighted in other international festivals, including the Tuvan Republic, Mongolia, Madagascar, Cuba, India, Latvia, Panama and Zimbabwe.

In addition to public concerts, each featuring two or more contrasting musical ensembles, participants have the opportunity to learn from each other through educational workshops and other collaborative events. Serenade! choirs come from across the U.S. and the world, including both children’s and adult ensembles, including in recent festivals a choir of refugee girls based in Portland, ME and one serving children with special needs based in India.

Due to the cost of travel and accommodations, several promising ensembles have been unable to participate, particularly non-professional groups who would nonetheless be of great worth to fellow participants and local audiences, as well as to the fostering of cross-cultural relationships between individuals and ensembles. MMC will fund choirs and other ensembles from around the world – especially from underrepresented cultures – who wish to participate in festivals, concerts and workshops, such as the Ihlombe! South African and Serenade! Washington, DC Choral Festivals.

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