Towards European Culture: Songs From The World (Satis Shroff, Germany)

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Geistliche Konzert: From Evening Rise to Hine Ma Tov (Satis Shroff)

Man soll alle Tage wenigstens

Ein kleines Lied hören,

Ein gutes Gedicht lesen,

Ein treffliches Gemälde sehen und,

Wenn es möglich zu machen wäre,

Einige vernünftige Worte sprechen.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

It was a lovely evening in Kappel’s graveyard on one of those green benches and looking at the three big trees where a lot of birds were twittering and chirping, coming home to roost. You could discern the water sprout of a nearby fountain with the water splashing incessantly. Tits and finches were flying about on the tree tops. I heard heavy steps and saw the anticipated faces of the members of our men’s choir.

I greeted them with ‘Grüß Gott die Herren!’ and was greeted by smiling faces, all wearing the choir uniform, ties studded with myriads of lyras, white shirts, black shoes and trousers and cobalt blue blazers. Reminded my of the Brit school I went to in my schooldays in the foothills of the Himalayas.

This time we had another motto: geistliche Musik aus aller Welt, that is, spiritual music from all over the world. This time our guests were Intermezzo Ihringen, yes Ihringen, the sunniest place in Germany and excellent wines.

We sang ‘Evening Rise,’ which is a Native American song, in German together with or guests from Intermezzo Ihringen, which is a mixed choir. The audience was advised not to applaud after every song but at the end.

The joy and fascination of singing comes like a sea-wave when you sing in a choir, and takes you away. We sing songs from different parts of the world, and every language has language brings its own rules, regulations and pecularities. Russian words as in ‘Tabie pajom’ are pronounced in a gutteral manner, with a lot of ‘sch’ thrown in, and the Israeli song ‘Hora Jerusalem’ with a lot of volume, whereas the song from Botswana ‘Sana Sananina’ demands a tip of the tongue, hissing intonation.

Thomas Carlyle put it aptly when he said: Music is appropriately termed as the language of the angels. In this context ‘Näher mein Gott, zu Dir’ and ‘Heil dir, heilige Himmelskönigin’ give you a prelude to what Heaven, paradise, Swarga can be like.

Music is the common language of human beings, said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. As we grow older, the physical state of the body becomes involved in a breakdown but our souls remain young. The soul becomes wiser through all the life experiences. What the elderly singer doesn’t have, in terms of spontaneous and dynamic explosive actions of the youth and strength, is compensated by the experience of the elderly. He’s been-there-and done-it already. The young and the elderly in a choir become a common strength. Singing brings joy and happiness to us. We receive what we give to the audience in terms of applause and recognition, for the songs evoke emotions. 

We from the MGV-Kappel sang a song composed by L. Mason and arranged by our common conductor Johannes Söllner: ‘Näher mein Gott’, which I knew as ‘Nearer to Thee’ from my school days, which was sung during a retreat in the woods where we were obliged to write resolution on pieces of paper and then burn them in the end. Our second song was ‘Tebje payom’ by D. Bortnyansky.

This was followed by a Mongolian song sung by Mrs. Schneider who hails from Ulan bator.

Intermezzo Ihringen sang ‘Weit Weg’ by H. von Goisern, followed by G. Sutherland’s ‘Sailing,’ made famous by  Rod Stewart.

Since Christian Kohler couldn’t make it, the orgel-improvisation was done by Robert Klöckner, a lanky, bespectacled guy, who plays the orgel in neighbouring Ebnet and studies Music as a Freshman.

We then sang two songs: ‘Sancta Maria,’ a slow song with feeling, followed by ‘Heil dir, Heil’ge Himmelskönigin’, an spiritual from England.

Another Mongolian song came thereafter, which evoked images of the vast Stepplands because the singer shouted in her songs. It was delightful to hear her and her headgear and golden costume reminded me of Tibetan festive clothes. The Mongolians are Buddhists too, despite the long years of Soviet rule.

Intermezzo Ihringen then brought groove to the evening and  sang ‘Swing Low’, a spiritual followed by ‘Didn’t my Lord Deliver Daniel’, a gospel song.

Robert Klöckner played his orgel-improvisations for the second time.

After that we sang ‘Hine ma tov,’ a popular song from Israel, followed by ‘Good News’, a gospel song with the theme ‘chariots are coming’ and threatening to destroy a folk that is on the run. Then came ‘Hora Jerusalem,’ another well-known song from Israel. The applause was thunderous.

 The encore song was, as usual, the German version of ‘The Rivers of Babylon.’

After the concert, we all went over to the Gemeindehaus, a wooden house built in the Schwarzwald-style, where we drank beer, wine, ate brezeln and other German dishes like sausages and steaks, as is the custom, and talked animatedly late into the night.

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