The sense of singing

The sense of singing


Robert, David & Barbara met through the Nederlands Kamerkoor and have sung together for about 30 years. They will tell us about their singing history and how they have used the experience they built up over the years in their other existence as translators. 

The Sense of Singing has been prompted bythe BBC series 'The Choir' and an article in the Health section of the ITI website.

Singing is good for you

Members of the audience who are or have been a member of a choir will know singing is good for you. Singing technique can provide therapy and health benefits in other areas. It helps teachers and speakers with breathing, voice production, posture, stage presence, and not least stage fright.  There will be a broad explanation of singing technique and its wider application, and a discussion on stage fright and ways to tackle it.

Everybody can gain a sense of achievement, even pride, from singing and it is a social activity - whilst translating is very often a solitary one. Singing also offers opportunities for networking.

Singing is not purely intellectual. Not only is active singing beneficial but listening to vocal music can also inspire and relax. By its nature, vocal music has an extra dimension when compared to instrumental. It can be magical, but the differences between professionals and amateurs in both singing and translation mean it may not always be magical...

 We will explore the parallels between singing and translation. Linguistic and singing ability seem to be linked as many professional singers are good at languages, and some are also translators. We will examine the need for interpretation both in singing by interpreting text through music, and in translation by the choice of 'best' word or phrase. Both skills rely on the parallels between learning a language and learning music.

Can everyone sing?


Barring physical handicap or injury, most people can sing, but many assume they can’t – or don’t wish to! An important issue is pitch. We’ll attempt to explain how it works, and discuss perfect pitch. David may hold a simple ear test with the audience’s help.


Musical finale

The Sense of Singing will include some audience participation: a simple, well-known canon, like Frère Jacques, hopefully in several different languages at once! This should cause merriment and we will discuss how it affected the audience.Then as a reward, the Sense of Singing will be rounded off by a professional musical finale.


About the facilitators

David Barick was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA and came to the Netherlands in 1979 to pursue a career as a classical singer. He realized this ambition by appearing as a soloist with many leading orchestras and ensembles, and was a long-time member of the Netherlands Chamber Choir. While thus occupied, he began to pursue his other passion, languages, by giving private English lessons. After his retirement from performing a number of years ago, it was a logical step for him to turn these language activities into a full-time occupation. He works both as a translator and a teacher in various areas of English: academic writing, business English and conversation. He is a devoted polyglot who can converse in eight languages and is working on several others. When not occupied with language matters, you might very well find him in the kitchen making his fresh pasta, which is created entirely by hand— no pasta machines used. 

Robert Coupe read Modern Languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar. He then worked for some years for Shell in London. He moved to Holland to take up a post as tenor in the Nederlands Kamerkoor, where he sang for over 30 years, combining it with many and varied solo engagements. Quite early on during this period he was approached to do translation work, and for many years was the regular translator for his employer, the NKK. Other bodies for whom he has translated include the Early Music Festival Utrecht, the Huelgas Ensemble, the Haarlem Choral Biennale and Stichting ArtZuid. Robert also provides English coaching to the Netherlands Radio Choir. 

The American soprano Barbara Borden has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1981. As well as being a member of the Nederlands Kamerkoor for over 30 years, she has also sung with numerous other vocal ensembles and has appeared regularly as a soloist in the Netherlands and elsewhere. She has contributed to over 60 CD recordings, one of which received a Grammy nomination in 2006. Since leaving the Nederlands Kamerkoor in 2013, Barbara has been exploring her talents in other areas. She plans to set up her own business offering a unique combination of personal services including pet care, translating and proofreading, professional organizing and (last but not least!) singing for special occasions.