Britain insists on its choral opt-out

Europe

"WE'RE not really opting out. It's just that we're better than they are," said one bearded baritone, as lines of Pringle sweaters and bobbed heads took up their seats.

It was, of course, a very British refrain. "Bah bah bah bah de bah," sang the Brits of the Brussels Choral Society, as they warmed up for their regular Thursday rehearsal - in their own language, in their own choir and on their very own terms.

Only the British of Brussels like to sing on their own. Other Europeans join the Choir of the European Union, which was also rehearsing on Thursday - in French.

On their laps were neat little music folders, bearing neat little European emblems. "Loo loo loo loo de loo," went their scales. "You are the voice of Brussels. The voice of unity," enthused the ebullient Belgian conductor, Dirk de Moor, as his songsters opened their lungs in the greater European cause.

A rare British EU chorister sat at the back in a pin-stripe suit. "I'm in Europe. I chose to sing in the European choir," he explained.

"We have Belgians, Germans, Danes, French," said Mr Dirk de Moor. "We have Spanish, Portuguese and a Pole. But we only have two British. Why don't we have more? I don't know. We would love to have more British. They are marvellous singers - among the best. We just wish they would come along. But then Britain is an island, and they like to sing on their island here too."

The Brussels Choral Society insists that it too is "international". It has 58 British members - but the rest are from all over the world.

"We sing every major work. The European choir is just not up to it," said one singer who did not wish to be named. And, he added, "their last conductor was deaf."

There is no chance that the Brits will ever opt in to the EU choir, say the singers.

"We just work harder. We have greater discipline and an entirely different tradition," said the conductor, Tom Cunningham, from Scotland, who works as an official in the European Commission.

Newcomers to the EU choir must agree to promote the ideals of the Community. And they must obey the directives governing the activities of the choir. "No transparency", says the EU choir dress code for women. "No flowery underwear and no visible lace."

The singers must be prepared to travel to all member states. ("We haven't been invited to Britain - but we hope to go there one day," said Mr de Moor.)

They must also perform at EU ceremonies and functions. And, of course, their programme must always include the European anthem, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

"All of this," say the British singers, "spoils the fun."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London