Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor Sängergruß (2023). TTBB, 1’30”. Premiered 5 Nov 2023 at the Fall Concert of the Damenchor Wald-Echo with the Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor, Jacqueline Smith director, Vereinigung Erzgebirge, Warminster PA.
A Sängergruß is a choir’s greeting to its audience. There are generic choral greetings, but many choirs have Grüße especially composed for them. I wrote this for the choir I’ve been a member of since 2012, the Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor. Founded in 2005 from the merger of the Franklinville and the Schwarzwald Männerchöre (former choirs of their respective clubs), the FSM is the last of the Philadelphia-area German men’s choirs. Under the direction of Jacqueline Smith, it is active and growing. I am its current President, and composed this is 2023, after we uncovered an older Gruß composed for the Schwarzwald by Theodore Koerner. The text was written/drafted in German and English by me, and then put into excellent German by member and Past President Gregor Helmkamp.
There were two inspirations for this piece. Felix Mendelssohn is one, whose Männerchor works are, like all of Mendelssohn’s works, stupefyingly brilliant and subtle, yet sounding as easy and inevitable as a guy falling off a log. The second inspiration is Theodore Koerner. You’ve never heard of Ted Koerner, but he was the longtime director of the Schwarzwald Männerchor. His own Sängergruß, written as his audition piece for the choir in 1945, is easily more accomplished, more sure, more professional, more true, and more exciting than 95% of choral music published today. He was a master from whom any composer could learn.
Below the recording, text, and translation is the complete score.
Von vielen Orten und auch Ländern
stehen wir vor Euch nun hier,
mit uns’ren Stimmen, Herzen, und Händen
im Sang geloben wir:
Das wahre Wort im reinen Klang
das singen wir Euch vor
mit klarem Geist und frohem Sang,
der Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor.
From many places, many lands
we stand before you now,
and with our voices, hearts, and hands
we sing in solemn vow:
True word and pristine sounds from here
to you in song we pour,
with spirits clear and joyous song, we’re
the Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor.