Choir to tour Germany

The choir from Sandusky’s Zion Lutheran Church flew to Germany Friday for a week-long trip into the denomination’s roots.
Tom Jackson
Oct 26, 2013

 

Their concert tour will include a stop in Wittenberg, where Luther launched the Protestant Reformation. They’ll also be singing in St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where J.S. Bach — arguably the most famous Lutheran musician of all time — served as the music director.

A group of about 40 people are on the trip. The church’s choir director, Ron Albert, said the choir will have 27 people.

Most of the choir comes from Zion Lutheran Church, but it’s been augmented by choir members from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, two from St. John’s Lutheran Church, one from The Chapel and one from Grace Episcopal Church.

“The people who are going have a very great interest in choral singing,” Albert said.

They’ll perform in several German cities on the Reformation Tour before flying home Nov. 1.    

One of the tour stops will be Halle, the birthplace of another famous German composer, George Frideric Handel. The choir will sing a Bach composition, “Honor and Glory,” at Bach’s former church in Leipzig.

“Bach is buried at that church,” Albert said.

The choir will also sing the “Hallelujah” chorus in a church associated with Handel.

“To sing a Bach work in Bach’s church and to sing a ‘Hallelujah’ chorus in the church where Handel spent most of his lifetime, those are kind of special things to do,” Albert said.

Albert is recently retired as choral director for Sandusky Schools. Church pastor John Mawhirter, who is also on the trip, came up with the idea for the journey, Albert said.

Trumpet player Jeff Lindquist, one of the St. Mary’s musicians, said it’s very exciting to be a member of the tour.

“The churches really were the concert halls in those days,” he said. “It should be a great week, seeing these old towns.”

Zion Lutheran Church organist Ron Borchardt won’t learn until he gets to Leipzig whether he’ll be allowed to play the organ at Bach’s church. Bach was a famous organist and wrote many pieces for the instrument.

“I think we have a nice ensemble,” he said. “It’s a great blend of voices. The spirit is strong within the group.”

Lindquist noted that St. Thomas Church in Leipzig has had a boy’s choir for 800 years.

“Stepping into that church where Bach was, is for musicians, a really great place to walk into,” he said.

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I was stationed in Bamberg, Germany. I was told by one of the guys in my battalion that during world war II a pope had died while in Bamberg. Instead of taking him back to the Vatican they buried him inside this church in downtown Bamberg. There is a river that runs through the heart of Bamberg, and this church sits right on the edge of the river. There is a mural painted on the river side of the church. This mural is of a bunch of people which looks like a flat pitcher. That is until you cross this bridge and look down the side of the building. One of the men in this painting has a leg sculpted and sticks out from the wall. I did not know why the Germans did this, but found it to be very odd but interesting.

Bamburg is about 50 kilometers north of Nuremberg.