The Joy of Singing

The Joy of Singing is a great music film about the positive power of singing together and the longing to be part of something.

The Joy of Singing follows three choir leaders before, during, and after the Corona pandemic. A time when the need for singing and community becomes their greatest challenge – in their personal lives, in their careers, but also in their tense relationship with the singers. The three take us on an entertaining and encouraging journey between art and social adventure, always with the mission to bring people together.

The Joy of Singing

In Germany alone, millions of singers meet regularly with their choirmasters to sing together. They are looking for the fulfillment of a vision of sound that they can only achieve with this one – their choir. But in March 2020, choral singing becomes the most dangerous hobby in the world: singing can kill. Conducting choirs in the Corona pandemic throws the choir directors back on themselves. Concerts are canceled and it is no longer possible to meet together. How the choir directors master this musical crisis forms the dramaturgical framework of the film.

Simon Halsey is the world star among conductors. He travels from country to country at breathtaking speed, rushing from event to event. Always efficient and well organized. But his long-planned project, a gigantic sing-along concert in New York City with more than a thousand singers, dissolves into Corona dust.
We follow Halsey from the great euphoria during the initial preparations for the event to the global ban on choral singing. The cosmopolitan who has almost never been home is stuck in England for the first time in his life. In the endless lockdown, he vacillates between the tireless struggle for his comeback on the world’s stages and despair at his sudden lack of work and purpose.

Woven into Halsey’s story are the stories of two female choir directors. While conducting choirs was a male profession until recently, more and more women are conducting choirs today.

At first glance, Hyunju Kwon seems to be the exact opposite of Simon Halsey: Her quiet, reserved manner forms a stark contrast to Halsey’s energetic performance. And yet, as a conductor, she possesses a magical power that immediately enchants every choir she stands in front of. We accompany Kwon on a master class given by Simon Halsey and on her great success in being selected for the prestigious concert exam. We experience the lockdown via video link with her in complete isolation in her home country of South Korea, until her return to Germany, where she can finally make music together with singers again. Only then does she realize why she became a conductor.

Judith Kamphues sees singing as a physical experience and does the warm-up for large-scale projects by Simon Halsey.
She is a rhythm and enthusiasm machine: no matter whether 500 or 14 singers are standing in front of her, they all pick up Kamphues’ movements and integrate them into their singing. In contrast to the big projects, her own small women’s choir is no less of a challenge. We follow the thoughtful, strong, and sensitive conductor in her struggle to save her choir and its sound through the lockdown.

The meaning of singing together changes through the experience of the Corona pandemic. Not only the conductors but also the singers realize the true value of community and rediscover the beauty of singing together.

Directors: Torsten Striegnitz & Simone Dobmeier
Producer: Georg Tschurtschenthaler, Zora Nessl
Associate Producer: Rabea Rahmig
Editorial: Dagmar Mielke, Jens Stubenrauch
DOP: Max Preiss, Marcus Winterbauer, Christoph Krauss, Falco Seliger
Editor: Simone Dobmeier, Torsten Striegnitz
Sound: Karsten Höfer
Soundmixing: Jörg Höhne