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Ein FEST fuer Froehlichkeit!

Milwaukee - April ! April! Das “Frühlingsfest” ist da!” is said in Germany, and DANK Chapter Milwaukee Spring Celebration arrived on April Fools day. The weather cooperated to its fullest with bright sunshine and warmer weather. The organizing staff of the DANK board worked intensely to make this event a success; the local Milwaukee Journal was contacted for an ad, informative flyers were distributed to other German clubs, ethnic centers, churches and stores in shopping malls, libraries and other business places. The importance of this event was also advertised on “Heimat Echo” and “Continental Showcase” resulting in a great attendance. Many German club officers were present as well as the beautiful Queens from Spielmanzug

A short welcoming speeches were given by president Bill Bessa and choir president Jill Shearer thanking everyone in attendance and wishing an enjoyable evening celebrating our “Frühlingfest”, as also to many friends of other German-American Societies, clubs and businesses who have helped and contributed to the future of DANK Chapter Milwaukee.

The evening started with the DANK Folk Singing Group giving an exciting spring-like concert that delighted everyone. Likewise, the choir is especially elated and grateful to our guest singers from the “Schwaben Männerchor” participating with us. We thank the “Männerchor” whole heartedly for joining the choir in song, thus giving the choir a balance of four parts of voices.

Choir director, Dr. James Norden in front of the combined choir.

The choirs’ first performing song was “Es geht eine helle Flöte” by H. Baumann / G. Blumensaat, an energetic song announcing spring is in the air! A more romantic song “Das Lieben bringt gross Freud” followed, expressing the exuberance of first love at springtime into summer. The ladies’ only song “Hopsa, Schwabenliesel” a folksong written for a young lady” to kick-up her heels to some fun dancing.”

Our choir director, Dr. James Norden turned to the audience explaining the next song: “the Kanon-Quodlibet”, a fifteenth century canton of three stanzas each having different text; he quipped and said: “yes, I know, I was there!” The choir performed with gusto keeping the audience in suspense, as to how will the ending be! “Heidenröslein” text by J.W. Goethe, melody by H. Werner, a sad, melodious song of a young man’s yearning for love, as he worships the delicate “Röslein” wishing she was his. Last, but not least, the choir poured out the beloved “Drink, Drink” song by Sigmund Romberg from the operetta and movie “The Student Prince.” An encore song was sung inviting the audience to sing along.

Dr. Norden has been our devoted choir director since 2000 and the “Schwaben Männerchor” since 2001, every year compiling a concert program of songs that are entertaining to the audience and the singers alike.

The Schwabenhof hall was pleasantly decorated by the board’s secretary Sally Shearer in a gentle spring-like theme. Many businesses, DANK members and friends donated items generously for the raffle baskets that were ready to be won. The monetary amount received in raffle sales is used to support German language teachers in the greater Milwaukee area public and private schools.

The kitchen was a-buzz with delicious culinary foods under the leadership of board member Ursula Günther and her helpers. The singers donated a variety of cakes for dessert-lovers to choose from.

The admissions table was faithfully manned by Julie and Gary Seidlitz, younger members of our chapter; both being talented people, especially Julie, a master in cooking and nutritional expertise.

The master of ceremonies was none other than our DANK Milwaukee Chapter president Bill Bessa; he loves to be the emcee of our events, appearing to be a natural for this position since 2008. Attendance was great, hardly a seat was empty. When the word was announced that “Johnny Hoffmann und die Herzbuben” will play for dancing and listening pleasure, everyone clapped. Mr. Hoffmann and his band have been playing for many years, the earliest I could find was 1968, perhaps even earlier; he is an icon in Milwaukee and beyond representing a variety of dance music and listening pleasure. Thank you, Johnny!

The band started their musical performance after the choir’s concert, the dance floor immediately filled the floor with enthusiastic dancers. During the first intermission ,the DANK Folk DANCE group took to the floor under the coordinator Jane Nacker, assisted by DANK Folk Singing group’s president Jill Shearer. A gracious “thank you” was extended to the long time leader and director Doris Mueller and also to Adeline Kraenzler, who contributed folk-dance mentorship to many a new dancer. The dancers performed “Sonnenabend” and “Schneewalzer”; both dances in ¾ musical tact that contained many geometric movements and turns.

A totally new concept was present in the hall, that of a “Stammtisch”. The greater Milwaukee area is experiencing a wave of germans coming together once or twice a month in a designated area to experience the very natural “gemütlichkeit.” No fee is charged, the ONLY requirement is: ”German is spoken here!” Everyone is invited of their presence to improve their language skills in describing an experience or event, thus becoming more fluent in speaking.

Yes indeed, the written word and the language is necessary for a culture to survive.

Brigita Roth, DANK Choir VP

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