"But Ian Curtis was a baritone"


These were the words that saw the birth of Choir Division. They were spoken by Holger Winkelmann to Lorenz Ritter. The former was a bass in the 'Motet Choir' of the Christianskirche in Altona, Hamburg, and the latter – who sometimes helped out as a tenor in the same choir – was wearing his „Unknown Pleasures“ t-shirt, as he frequently did.


Ritter has been a fan since his youth, and had earlier been involved in several bands that would never have come into existence had it not been for Joy Division. For some time he had been contemplating the idea of forming a choir that would sing classical-sounding versions of Joy Division songs. „I was certain that it could work. But because I can't write choral arrangements, it seemed destined to remain one of those 'I-must-get-round-to-it-one-day' projects. Still, I talked about it to anybody that I thought might be able to help. The enthusiastic reactions that I received showed that it was indeed a good idea; but it was only when I managed to bend Holger's ear about the idea, that the whole thing began to take shape.“


Immediately after the following Sunday's rehearsal of the 'Motet Choir', Winkelmann presented Ritter with a score for „New Dawn Fades“, saying „Here, I've written this.“ It then emerged that Holger Winkelmann – who had been active in the Hamburg punk scene in the late '70s and early '80s and was likewise a huge Joy Division fan – is also a music librarian at the Hamburg Opera House; writing out musical scores is therefore part of his job. The pair then began recruiting choir members, one after another, and the first rehearsal took place four months later. 


Choir Division consists of approximately 20 female and male singers from very diverse backgrounds. Some of them only became aware of Joy Division through Anton Corbijn's bio-pic „Control“; others have been fans of the band for much longer. Their ages vary from mid-twenties to mid-fifties. „The Joy Division repertoire is finite, of course“, says Winkelmann, „and so the programme also includes contemporary pieces that have a similar atmosphere, and New Order songs as well.“ Thus the choir also performs interpretations of works by bands such as Sex Pistols.


Choir Division recorded their first demo in the legendary Alien Network Studio, where acts such as Prollhead, Rocko Schamoni and Jacques Palminger have also made recordings. „We mainly perform as a support act for bands that have something in common with Joy Division: the young successors of the post-punk tradition, etc. We play in clubs, rather than in concert halls. We aim to surprise Indie audiences – and hopefully to inspire them as well - with familiar music in an unfamiliar form.“