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Fri 8 Aug 2014 11:00 BBC Radio 4 FM only

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 08 August 2014

Political journalist Alex Stevenson follows an unusual diplomatic venture by MPs and peers, as the Parliament Choir hosts the Bundestag Choir for a unique concert in Westminster.

The Parliament Choir is a workplace choir comprised of anyone who works at Westminster from peers, to MPs to researchers, to caterers. As part of the commemorations for World War 1, they've taken the step of inviting their German counterparts, the Bundestag Chor, to Westminster for a concert on July 9th. The concert also remembers the 300 years since the Hanoverian Succession.

What was originally a nice idea has been transformed into a major opportunity to boost diplomatic ties with Germany following support from German chancellor Angela Merkel. The documentary investigates whether the resulting parallel political programme will make a difference amid a period of intense sensitivity for British-German relations over the future of Europe.

Alex Stevenson has been following the choir as they prepare with their conductor Simon Over. He visits rehearsals in London and in Berlin and attends the Foreign Office reception to greet the German choir before the big day of the concert itself.

We hear from current choir Chairman, former Cabinet minister Caroline Spelman MP, previous chair Lord German, veteran politician Kenneth Clarke, conductor Simon Over, the composer in residence at the choir Nick O'Neill and other choir members.

Producer: Laura Parfitt
A White Pebble Media production for BBC Radio 4.


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