Until their graduation in 12th grade, Crucians attend the Kreuzgymnasium (Grammar School of the Holy Cross) on their very own campus. In one of Germany’s oldest and best-known schools, one of whose past pupils was Richard Wagner, the singers up to grade 7 learn in their own classes, separate from the other non-choir pupils of the school, in order to be better able to reconcile the daily demands of choir and school at the beginning of their careers. From 8th grade on, Crucians study with non-choir pupils in regular classes with an emphasis on music. Singers in grade 3 and 4 are also in separate classes. They are taught in the school called the “63rd primary school”, which is in a separate building but still forms part of the campus.
The singers’ large – sometimes extraordinary – workload on almost every day means that unwinding during their free time is especially important. Football, handball, basketball in their own gym or on the artificial turf field on the campus, swimming in one of the nearby indoor pools, cycling on one of the most beautiful cycle routes along the Elbe or climbing in Saxon Switzerland – there is a considerable number of activities to choose from. What’s more, hardly any other German city can boast as many museums. Parks, theatres and cinemas are also very close by.
The choir’s daily meals – one of the biggest challenges – are taken care of by a team of eight people headed by chef Mathias Schulz.
His priority: fresh and varied food. The singers’ wellbeing is very important considering their extraordinary workload. Five meals a day are provided and these are usually taken by the choir together. Special rehearsal and concert periods are handled flexibly around the clock by the catering team. Vegetarian options and food allergies are catered for as matter of course.
Most Crucians live in the Alumnat – a multi-storey, venerable old building directly on the campus in the Dresden quarter of Striesen. This is compulsory in 4th grade; later the choristers have a choice if their parents’ house is not too far away. Gym, sauna, bistro as well as quiet spots – the Alumnat offers numerous opportunities to relax. The boys are supported and supervised by a large team of educators under the direction of Martina Schellhorn. The staff, as well as a nurse who is responsible for the choristers’ health care, are available to the singers around the clock.
It’s the dream of many music-loving boys in Germany: becoming a member of the Dresden Kreuzchor. Standing on the world’s biggest stages, wearing a suit and the famous white “Schiller collar”. Every year there is a huge number of applicants and about 20 young singers are selected for admission to the preparatory class. The requirements are high but the prospects are even higher.