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Fort Wayne's German chorus hosts the 55th annual Saengerfest
Free concert features 12 German choruses from all over the Midwest
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Fans of traditional German music from choral to folk will have plenty to cheer about when the Fort Wayne Meannerchor/Damenchor hosts the 55th District Saengerfest. An event which comes to Fort Wayne every ten years, the 55th District Saengerfest features a free concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium on May 21. 300 singers from 12 German choirs (including a choir from Gera, Germany, Fort Wayne’s sister city) take the stage for an evening of music. “It’s all sung in German, with a variety of different types of music,” says Carol Mauch, vice-president of the Fort Wayne Maennerchor/Dammenchor. “Some songs are more classical, but we do all the fun kind of stuff, too, like folk music and polka.”
As Fort Wayne institutions go, the German choir might be one of the oldest. It was first established in 1869 as the German male chorus, dedicated itself to the preservation and promotion of German choral music. At one point, there were eight German singing societies in the city; they consolidated into the Fort Wayne Maennerchor in the 1920s. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the chorus received the “Zelter-Plakette” award, (named after Carl Friedrich Zelter, the father of choral music in Germany) in recognition of its commitment to German choral music. A Ladies Auxiliary chorus was formed in 1938, but they weren’t invited to join the men until much later. “It was strictly a men’s choir until the last 30 years or so,” Mauch says.
The Fort Wayne Meannerchor/Damenchor participates in the annual District Saengerfest with other choirs from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky. Every three years they are involved in the National Saengerfest, which pulls together as many as 4,000 singers from all over the country.
The Fort Wayne Meannerchor/Damenchor will hold a reception for the visiting choirs on Friday night at Park Edelweiss on Elmhurst Drive. There will also be a dance at Park Edelweiss on Saturday night after the concert.
55th District Saengerfest
Saturday, May 21
Scottish Rite Center