“Shout for joy, exult!”
St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig has been one of the world’s finest choirs for over 800 years. Advent is the busiest time of the year for the choir, but also the most enjoyable. The young choristers spend the Christmas period at their boarding school.
Life in a boarding school is a unique experience, and it can often be difficult – especially in the run-up to Christmas. It’s not only the youngest children who miss their family and home at this time of year in particular. The St. Thomas choristers are no different, but the twinges of homesickness are brief. Most of the boys look forward to the festive period and to sharing a wonderful time in the “box”, as their boarding school is affectionately known. In spite of a busy schedule and many extra rehearsals and concerts, Advent is the most enjoyable time of the year for the choristers. The boarding school has lots of little festive traditions, and a very special Christmas atmosphere fills the building.
Secret preparations and festive surprises
Max, a soprano in the choir, enthusiastically recalls his first Christmas at the St. Thomas boarding school: “The older students decorate the rooms for the first Sunday in Advent. They do it at night when everyone is asleep. In my first year, I heard rustling and bumping noises, but I didn’t know what was going on. When I woke up the next morning, the windows were decorated with pictures. There were Advent wreaths, fir tree branches and lots of Christmas decorations. When you see it for the first time it’s amazing!”
A mystical atmosphere also fills the building on Christmas Eve. After morning vespers, the best singers rush off to give short performances – in retirement homes, for example. The choristers then meet up with St. Thomas conductor Georg Christoph Biller in the evening. They relax and play music… and give presents, of course: “Later on in the evening, gifts are exchanged around a large table.” All homesickness is long forgotten.
The choir can be enjoyed at their weekly motet recitals in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church or at one of their many concerts: