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 December 2008 - Nr. 12

Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica

Just how important music is in our lives becomes apparent when we go to concert halls filled with people, arriving a bit downtrodden and tired and then, when we look at them after the concert they suddenly look younger, refreshed, revitalized. As the days get darker we turn more often to music, especially in the pre-Christmas season. There is not an organization in our ranks that does not enjoy the comfort of seasonal sounds.

Advent with the Canadian Austrian Society

Within a few days we visited 4 different venues, starting with the Austrian Society, which holds its The head table including Dr. Robert Luck, Austrian Consul & Trade Commisioner; Christine Meyer, President of the Canadian Austrian Society; and Austrian Amabassador, Werner BrandstetterAdvent celebration in the downtown Delta Chelsea Inn. The format is always the same: welcoming address by Christine Meyer, President, and introduction of the head table. This year there were so many dignitaries from all levels of diplomacy past and present that the list is too long to mention.

Immediately afterwards people settled in to enjoy the cookies and mandarins laid out on the table while munching along as the music plays.

Manfred Petz and... 
Manfred Petz, Schola Cantorum and the Edelweiss Choir 
...Schola Cantorum and... 
The Edelweiss Choir 
...the Edelweiss Choir 

Well, here it was Manfred Petz and his Scholar Cantorum, as well as the Edelweiss Choir with Gretel Schauer as soloist singing the old familiar and not so familiar tunes. Mrs. & Mr. Gunter KunzelmannIn rapid succession Gunter Kunzelmann climbed to the podium to tell one of his stories and poems surrounding Christmas. This time he especially had a hit with his last entry about the old Christmas tree that did not turn around on its base any more after many years of faithful service and as someone did the good deed and repaired it, and it turned again so beautifully, and Mama said: if only Papa could see this, well…You can imagine what happened next! The whole contraption started to race around faster and faster and finally Attila & Marion Glatzdispersed all its glory all over the room. There was much laughter in the room after that!

But the music is what holds such events together, and seeing the few children receiving a Christmas present. After listening to many Christmas at the Delta Chelsea Innperformances the people feel a need to sing too and thus that is provided for. Having worked so well the guests feel it is then time for a traditional Goulash soup which has special fame. All others pale in comparison, or so I have been told.

It looked to me as if this year fewer people came for this in the past so very popular event.

Full house at the Danube Swabian House

The Christmas PlayersThere was a lot going on when we went to this Scarborough club. There was the "Kinderbescherung", an afternoon organized by the Women’s Auxiliary with the help of talented and dedicated Lorie SzauterLorie Szauter. She worked very hard with the kids to teach most of them German Christmas songs and poems, did a play with them that ended with the concept of building a village, and produced fun and games for all. Building a villageIt truly is astounding that these kids in part are very good and not shy at all in delivering something in a public space.

The most important part of course is to get Santa Clause to come and hand out presents. He was called with a song, which had to be repeated again and again, because he did not show up right away. But when he came he was there for the kids, lifted them up, bent down on his knee, and had parents take pictures. These are unforgettable memories for any family.

Santa loves children...  Santa loves children... 
 ...and children... Santa 
...and children... Santa 

It took a long time for all the many children, orderly in their age group, to get onto the stage and sit on Santa’s lap and to receive a gift. It was an afternoon filling event before the hall got empty and everyone went home.

I darted in an out to be able to be in two places at the same time. Around the corner behind the offices the Historical Society got together for coffee and Stollen, for songs and sing-alongs, and to listen to a few poems.

Christian Klein...  Chris Klein... 
The Historical Society of Mecklemburg Upper Canada  The Historical Society of Mecklemburg Upper Canada 
The Historical Society of Mecklemburg Upper Canada 

Christian Klein lent me his so I could make a small contribution to the proceedings, something that I enjoy, because it makes me feel like I belong.

Stories were told and a visit to the Kitchener Christkindl Market was recounted. But the big surprise was that Santa came to these big kids, whom were just as happy as the little ones to receive a token of sweets for being extra good.

Santa came...  Santa came... 
...for the...  ...big kids... 
...for the...  ...big kids... 
...and...  ...gets thanked with a kiss! 
...and...  ...gets thanked with a kiss! 

Sadly this group is getting smaller and smaller and we remember a few years back when some members were still vigorous and vital and participating. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but especially all those that cannot come anymore but would like to. We shall think of them!

Weihnachtslieder Carolling at the Hansa Club

Choir, audience in a festive hall 
Choir & audience in a festive hall 
 Dieter Wütherich and the program Dieter Wütherich, the organist 
Dieter Wütherich  Dieter Wütherich, the organist 

Dieter Wuetherich keeps his Hansa Choir pretty busy. On the 7th of December, same as the other events, he had the choir give a nice Advent concert.

The Hansa Choir 
The Hansa Choir 

Reiner Walter welcomes choir and audienceRainer Walter was at hand to greet the guests who were sitting in the festively decorated hall with coffee and lots and lots of cookies. It was a program of familiar songs in English and German and poems, always one and then the other.

Introduction  Introduction 
 Dedication A Christmas poem 
Dedication  A Christmas poem 
The solo  Another Christmas poem 
The solo  Another Christmas poem 

Wish I could have been there, but I was at the other club while the best of all husbands was there. He said that he thoroughly enjoyed himself, just like everyone else that was there. I would have especially enjoyed to hear "We are marching in the light of love" and "Lass Frieden sein". Our traditional music and being together with familiar friends and acquaintances feels like having an extended family. For us this is particularly heart-warming because we do not have any family.

Learning from Music

Intro by Manfred PetzA few weeks prior to these concerts we attended a concert held by Manfred Petz In the Sr. Clement’s School, where he was a teacher for twenty years between 1979 and 1999. He also was asked to take on the local choir called Scholar Cantorum, which he has directed now, in the coming February for 30 years.

Manfred Petz & Schola Cantorum 

AlphornHe is being kept very busy with requests to sing with this choir and others that he conducts at all sorts of venues, but giving this particular concert in “his” school, was especially pleasing to him. Having been a teacher - he must have been a really good one - he has a talent for making concepts visual and interesting. YodelingHis photo safaris through Europe combined with regional songs and other musical fare have become famous in their own right. He has developed a loyal following.

Ursula IvonoffskiThe hall for “Warum ist es am Rhein so schön”, a repeat performance by popular demand, traveled through parts of the Rhein from whence the river starts. It is in fact a bit confusing and Forget-me-not Dancersactually overwhelming to hear about all these different references to the Rhein, but following the program made it plausible.

The program was very interesting with the many different photos of the various Rhein regions and the intermittent forms of entertainment. His choir performed, as did soloists like Ursula Ivonoffski, Elke & Anton Streisselberger Drums...with Horn and Piano, the alphorn was played by Eva Haida, Margrith Petermann and Rene Waelti yodeled and the Forget-me-not dancers danced in Trachten.

...and hornWhat a fortunate combination: Music, entertainments and knowledge shared. We are looking forward to hearing and learning more about this mighty river in the next concert. This series of concerts proves: Music matters!

Until next time

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


Email to Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Sybille reports as a German-Canadian about culture, arts, entertainment, community events from her unique perspective as an artist

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