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Under-21 EURO: football and music play in harmony at Romanian venues

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Fans attending European Under-21 Championship matches in Romania have been treated to the sound of children’s choirs entertaining them at half-time.

Romania's National Choir Madrigal performing the national anthem at the opening Under-21 EURO match  in Bucharest
Romania's National Choir Madrigal performing the national anthem at the opening Under-21 EURO match in Bucharest Alex Nicodim

A total of 800 children from Cantus Mundi choirs based all over the country have taken part in a unique initiative organised by the Madrigal national choir, who sang the Romanian national anthem on the pitch at the opening match in Bucharest.

At each match there are 100 young singers performing a repertoire with an international flavour, including stadium favourites such as Queen's We Are The Champions or Shakira's Waka-Waka.

Anna Ungureanu, principal Madrigal conductor

"The children and conductors have told us that it has been the experience of a lifetime to sing in the stadium and to feel the energy and attention of such a large crowd. They were so happy to see the spectators stand up and applaud them, which rewarded all those hours of work, perseverance, seriousness and ambition."

In the same way that football helps break down social divisions, the Cantus Mundi programme aims to use the power of music to break down barriers related to ethnicity, social circumstances and physical or intellectual capabilities. After ten years of activity, it has created an ever-growing community comprising 1,680 choirs featuring over 60,000 children and young people throughout Romania.

Children sing in Cluj-Napoca
Children sing in Cluj-NapocaAlex Nicodim

In recent years, the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and Madrigal have gone further to build a partnership specifically designed to introduce an artistic element at football matches for a young audience.

"The Cantus Mundi children have been to football stadiums before, and we have found that their performance has had a very positive and calming effect on the atmosphere in the stands," said FRF public relations manager Răzvan Mitroi.

For Madrigal manager Emil Pantelimon, the initiative has been a huge success: "Music and football are the two great social phenomena that have the potential to change the world. And when they join forces, the effect on the younger generations is almost guaranteed. Cantus Mundi and the UEFA Under-21 tournament are taking the first step in this direction. Be the team, let there be peace, let there be fair play!"

The Cantus Mundi choirs will be performing again at this weekend’s quarter-finals, when Spain face Switzerland on Saturday in Bucharest before France take on Ukraine the following day in Cluj-Napoca.

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