It is 8 pm and silence descends on the main auditorium of the Oosterpoort Theatre in Groningen (The Netherlands). On stage, a few hundred young people aged between 16 and 18 are lined up behind an orchestra. The youths are the students of the 10th, 11th and 12th grade of the Parcival College in Groningen, which is the school my niece’s children attend. The Parcival College educates the students according to the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who founded the anthroposophy movement.
The conductor, one of the teachers, ascends the stage. The orchestra begins to play and the voices join in. Enthralled, I listen to Verdi’s Stabat Mater. This short but complex piece is the opening of the concert, an annual performance in the week before Easter in which all 900 students and over 100 staff participate. The students know the words by heart and the enthusiasm in their voices as they sing is deeply moving. Later in the evening they perform Ramirez’ Missa Criolla. In between, the pop choir of the 7th grade perform songs from different era’s in various styles and languages. The 9th grade sing songs in Dutch, which they wrote themselves. The highlight of the evening is the percussion session of the 8th grade. The setting is an airport: people are going on holidays, are waiting on a loved one, and someone is in a rush to catch a plane. There are business people, pilots, mechanics and adventurers. We are brought on a journey by the students, who choreographed the performance and wrote all the rhythms themselves. They use not only drums, but also a selection of different objects, such as shopping trolleys, suitcases, umbrellas and bicycle pumps. It sounds great and it is very entertaining to watch. I came for Verdi’s Stabat Mater, but the whole programme was very impressive and surprising. It was a wonderful evening, thanks to the Parcival College.