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It was in November 1984 that Neville Willis, then our Musical Director, suggested that the Mid-Norfolk Singers should give serious thought to taking the choir to Germany, to Dereham’s twin town, Rüthen.

What would possibly have seemed to be the biggest problem of this venture, where to stay during the visit, was quickly overcome and by January 1985 we had been informed that the kind people of Rüthen would be happy to act as hosts.

The first exchange, and our first visit to Rüthen, took place in October 1986 when we visited Kammerchor Rüthen. This was the beginning of a series of musical exchanges between our two choirs, and more importantly, the formation of new friendships, many of which continue today. Since then the choirs have met regularly in either May or October and have performed a concert as well as providing music for the Sunday morning service. The concerts traditionally consist of a work or works which we perform together (past works include Cimarosa’s Magnificat, Schubert’s Tantum ergo, Mendelssohn’s Verleih Uns Frieden) as well as separate works from each choir. We always have some kind of get-together after the concert which has provided many happy memories.

Rüthen is an interesting town, situated in North Rhine-Westphalia. It has many old half-timbered buildings, an intact city wall and beautiful churches. Our hosts usually arrange time for some local sightseeing and possibly a walk round the city wall. We have also visited nearby cities including Essen and Munster during our visits. We do try to keep the cost of this activity as low as possible so that all feel able to take part.

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