German Choir Spends Time at Lyco

Dieser Artikel wurde in der Zeitung "The Lycomer" Williamsport (USA) am 28. September 2000 veröffentlicht:

By Virginia Shank and Sarah Virkler, Lycourier Staff

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Gropies Berlin choir began a three-day visit at Lycoming College.

Last spring the German choir hosted the Lycoming College tour choir who now got a chance to return the favor. Friendships were renewed as many of the off campus students chose to host the same people they stayed with when they where in Germany. The choir arrived at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and was given a tour of the campus before having dinner in the cafeteria. When asked about the food, most of the Germans said that, for American food, it was good. Nina Grzegorowski, a first soprano who has been with the choir for 16 years, went so far as to say, "l really enjoyed it, lots of variety."

Following the diner a group rehearsal was held in the Clarke Chapel where both choirs had a chance to perform for each other. The Gropies director, Bernhard Jahn, led the combined choirs in a rehearsal of the Polish resistance hymn, Gaude, mater Polonia, which they performed together later that evening.

At 8:30, Clarke Chapel was filled for the Gropies Berlin concert. The choir performed most of its selections a capella. The repertoire included music from many different periods, styles and languages. Even the style in which the group performed its songs was varied.
Several songs were performed by smaller groups. One, similar to Lycoming´s chamber choir, included about 12 people covering four to six voice parts. Another was a girls chorus that performed some popular American numbers including "I Will Follow Him" from Sister Act with dance moves and numerous solos. The dance moves were not restricted to the smaller choirs. During the song "Vals I Tango" by Povel Ramel the entire group had something of a show choir air to it, stepping in time to the song about a man asking a woman to waltz to tango music.

Several of the songs reflected the spirit of Germany and the surrounding countries behind the Iron Curtain, including the above mentioned Gaude, mater Polonia, which the Lycoming Choir joined in from its seats.
Later in the program, Lycoming Choir members in the audience stood, to the surprise of "the Gropies Berlin, and joined for Franz Biebl´s "Ave Maria (Angelus Domini)." This has become a Tradition for the choirs because the Gropies Berlin did the same thing for Lycoming's tour choir last spring. The final song, "Ev´ry Time I Feel the Spirit" by William L. Dawson, held special significance as director Jahn invited the tour choir to join the Gropies onstage for it.
Dr. Fred Thayer, Lycoming Choir director, received several e-mails and letters in the following days to tell him what a wonderful performance it had been and how touching it was to see the two choirs joining together to sing.

Jahn formed Gropies Berlin, das kleine Vokalensemble, in 1981 because music is not connected to school in European countries. Jahn decided to build up a program of choirs for students to work through as they grew and he has been working to that end for seven years. Its members are between 16 and 25 years of age and anyone can join. A few of the members have been with Jahn's program for of music since they were 5. Jahn has been a choir director for 27 years but a few years ago he cut down the number of choirs he was responsible from eighteen to eight.
One of the most interesting choirs that he formed is one comprised of physically handicapped adults. Jahn said that he tries to create a choir that could sing on their own without a director. He also ties together the idea of harmony in life with harmony in music.
He says, "To make music you have to train harmony and when you sing you have no dead instruments between the people.

In order to sing together with other people they must search out harmony that spreads through all of the people." The Gropies United States Tour already has included stops in Washington, D.C., and Damascus, Md. Aside from the United States, Groupies Berlin has toured numerous European countries including, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and France. This is part of the reason for the rich variety of cultures and language evident in their music.
The foreign pronunciations are learned from tapes of the songs being sung by natives or an experienced student of the language who comes to rehearsals.
The hardest language to master? "Lithuanian," says tenor Phillip Draeger, who's been a member of the choir for 19 years, The choir left Lycoming last Thursday to continue its tour. They will be in the United States until the fourth of October and plan stops throughout Delaware and Connecticut, New York City and even in Toronto, Canada. As to their opinion on Americans most peculiar quality, most agreed with soprano Barbra Munske, "You don´t eat breakfast!"