German youth choir performs at Holy Spirit, Waldheim Park
An award-winning youth choir from Germany that has been featured on German television and sung at the historic Rosengarten Congress Center makes its Lehigh Valley debut in two concerts and a church service as part of two-weeks of appearances on the East Coast during the group’s inaugural United States tour.
Vivida Banda performs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 in the sanctuary of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 3461 S. Cedar Crest Boulevard, Emmaus. The group also sings at 10 a.m. before the 10:15 a.m. Aug. 5 Holy Spirit church service. There is no admission but there will be a free will offering.
Vivida Banda performs a free concert at 7 p.m. Aug. 5 in Waldheim Park, 2400 S. Hall St., Salisbury Township.
Holy Spirit musical director Sharon MacCabe says the sound of the youth choir is “awesome” and they are impressive performers.
The group, whose name means “gang of rascals” in German, kicked off its tour with a performance at a church in Chapel Hill, N.C., and by singing the National Anthem for a Durham Bulls baseball game in Raleigh, N.C. After performing in the Lehigh Valley, the group heads to New York City for a performance before returning home.
The 40 young people ages 13-21 are led by director Anne-Christine Langenbach, who started the group in 2009 as an outgrowth of the music school she runs in Germany.
Vivida Banda is the most advanced group at Singschule Weinheim, which offers graded choral programs for children ages 1 through 21. Students are divided in six age-based choir groups starting with “Crawling Choir” for preschoolers. Students also receive private vocal training.
Langenbach says Vivida Banda has developed to such a high level because as the children grow through their training they develop a strong ear, learn new music literature quickly and become adept at blending their voices. She says the students’ “well-educated voices provide the ideal basis to create a very fine choral sound.”
In 2011, the group received the ”Citizen Prize of the Metropolitan Region Rhine-Neckar” for preserving folk songs and recording them in “Now We Are Going To Sing,” released in 2012.
In 2013, Vivida Banda and the Singschule received the “Echo Klassik,” a Germany classical music award, for its music instruction of youth. Langenbach says the award is one “of which we are all very proud.”
Macungie resident Cindy Ernst was living in Germany and singing in an adult choir when she met Langenbach, who had just started Vivida Banda. Ernst was impressed with the quality of the music by the young singers.
“I have a love of music in youth,” says Ernst, a past president of the Allentown Music Club, which sponsors its own youth outreach, Young Musicians of the Allentown Music Club. “I’ve spent my life encouraging young people in the expression of music,” says Ernst.
Ernst says Vivida Banda does a tour every two years and when Langenbach said they were going to go to the United States for the first time, Ernst suggested they perform at Holy Spirit, where she sings in the choir.
“They were all for it,” Ernst says.
MacCabe says she thinks it’s a great experience for the community to see young people from other countries perform in such a high-level youth choir.
“We are very active with youth in our church,” says MacCabe. “It’s a great thing when young people are engaged in music.”
MacCabe says Vivida Banda has an impressive repertoire that includes works by sacred, classical and contemporary composers from Germany, England and the United States. The choir sings in several languages.
Some of the group’s favorite pieces are by Heinrich Schütz, considered the most important German composer before Bach, and also Thomas Tallis, one of England’s greatest composers of choral music. The choir also sings the music of the Wise Guys, a hit pop German a cappella quintet as well as the songs of American singer Josh Groban.
The majority of Vivida Banda’s performance is a cappella. They are accompanied by Langenbach’s husband Simon on piano and 21-year-old son Jakob on trumpet.
Vivida Banda regularly sings in services and concerts in Weinheim, which is near Mannheim, and performed at the Kirchentag, the German Protestant church congress.
Last year, Vivida Banda was videotaped live in St. Peter’s Church for ZDF television, a national German public-service station.
Concerts information: lchsemmaus.org, 610-967-2220; waldheimpark.org