Girls' Choir of Freiburg Cathedral Performs in DC
Enlarge image Martina van Lengerich, choir conductor, also composes. For her composition "Da pacem, Domine," singers encircled the audience. (© Germany.info) Angelic voices seemed to come from above, filling the church with celestial harmonies.
Indeed, the voices of the Freiburg Cathedral Girls’ Choir (Mädchenkantorei am Freiburger Münster) did come from above as they opened last Friday night’s concert with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Laudate pueri Dominum,” singing from the rear balcony of the United Church in Foggy Bottom. The audience of more than 100, rather than turning in the pews to hear the choir, preferred to close their eyes and let the music surround them and take them where it would.
Enlarge image The Mädchenkantorei, founded 1973, has undertaken multiple international tours under the leadership of Martina van Lengerich. (© Germany.info) As the choir moved through the Gloria from Josef Swider’s “Missa angelica,” it began to move in two lines around the balconies on each side of the church. Following organist Marjorie Frances Mayo’s performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s “2. Movement: Allegretto” from the I. Symphony, op. 13, no. 1, the 42 girls, ages 11-19, descended the stairs on each side to the altar, all the while singing Brahms’ “Ave Maria op. 12.”
Enlarge image Prior to the United Church concert in DC, the choir performed three concerts in New York, including at St. Patrick's Cathedral. (© Germany.info) The music was thus moving in more way than one. And it did not stop there; after Heinz Heckmann’s “Salve Regina” and the English-language “Have I not love” by Steve Dobrogosz, the carefully choreographed movement of the choir continued as the girls went from the altar to the aisles, their voices projecting from within the audience. The precise stops during that piece were made that much more impressive by this inventive stance.
The Freiburg Cathedral Mädchenkantorei concert at the United Church, organized by the German Embassy in cooperation with Concordia D.C., was part of the choir’s US-tour, taking them from New York to Chicago via Washington, DC. A final, special concert was planned for Madison, Wisconsin, the sister city of Freiburg im Breisgau, both of which share a proud tradition as university cities.
Enlarge image For Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria," three singers were positioned in the balcony. (© Germany.info) Judging from the spirited applause after the final piece, Rupert Lang’s "Cantate Domino," the Mädchenkantorei concert at the United Church truly moved the Washington audience. After all, the Mädchenkantorei, one of six choirs at the ancient Freiburg Cathedral, is regarded as one of the top girls’ choirs in Europe.
Founded in 1973 by then-music director of the cathedral Dr. Raimund Hug, the Girls’ Choir has a diverse repertoire ranging from Gregorian to contemporary music. In addition to religious services in Freiburg and the region, the choir, led since 2003 by conductor Martina van Lengerich, has regularly embarked on tours both nationally and internationally. In addition to Moscow and Saint Petersburg (2005), eastern Canada (2008), Zurich and Innsbruck (2010), Padua and Venice (2011), the Girls’ Choir has performed in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate (2008-09) in Germany.
Enlarge image The audience applauded conductor van Lengerich, organist Marjorie Frances Mayo, and the Girls' Choir heartily following the concert. (© Germany.info) As conductor van Lengerich noted, such tours, in addition to showcasing their musical talent to audiences abroad, provide the girls and young women the opportunity to act as cultural ambassadors and representatives of the city of Freiburg, the state of Baden-Württemberg, and indeed the whole of Germany.
“The personal contacts that evolve during the journey result in positive consequences: people stop being strangers and become friends. They experience first-hand other peoples and cultures—a precious value in young peoples’ development.”
As van Lengerich thanked the many sponsors and private donors who made the Freiburg Cathedral Girls’ Choir 2012 US-tour a reality, so the German Embassy would like to thank the choir for their wonderful concert in Washington, DC.