Saengerfest 2010

 Saengerfest 2010 was celebrated in the heart of downtown San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Friday, April 9 and lasted throughout the weekend until Sunday, April 11 at midnight. Hosted by the Southern District of the Nordamerikanischer Saengerbund and the Beethoven Maennerchor, this was the 60th National Saengerfest which filled Ballroom C with the jolly harmonies sung by German choirs from all over the nation.

Friday night the event room is filled with a mass of people dressed in black and white with little neck ties in red and green; those dressed are those who are dressed to sing! The night started off with an introduction of the choirs from all over America. Each choir, one after the other, stood up from within the crowd, walked towards the front of the room and began to sing traditional German tunes. With each song the crowd would clap in beat (and some even sang the entire song, word for word) leaving everyone who was in the room feeling more than welcomed to join in the choir-audience musical interaction. One song in particular, sung by Southern Ohio choir directed by Loeske Chandler, “Sag Dankeschon mit Roten Rosen” (Say ‘’Thank You’ with Red Roses) seemed to get the crowd in the highest of spirits. The song was about thanking women for all the things they do with red roses and had a very bouncy upbeat to it. It was amazing to see how the entire crowd began to sway and chant with the happy beats of the song..    

It is interesting to go to such an event and witness the remarkable diversity within San Antonio. This huge international celebration is held only once every four years in different cities across the United States and San Antonio was that special city in 2010. Listening to the beautiful voices of these choirs harmonize in the most delicate way truly captures a sense of warmth and happiness; a vibe that seems to be distinguished with German folk and traditions. Mr. and Mrs. Jerry and Jackie Vluhm, a couple who took part in the beautiful singing, say that even though this year may be their last year participating in Saengerfest, every time they involve themselves in it they are always reminded of their German heritage and how “singing was really the activity that brought everyone together.” Jerry Vluhm, a World War II veteran, says that “San Antonio has several really big German clubs and is one of the strongest when it comes to German singing.” He talked about how many ethnic German there are in San Antonio, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels and other various parts of Texas because it was very common for German immigrants to settle in the Lone Star state.

Mrs. Jackie Vluhm beamed about her traditions and said that the whole idea of German traditions should really include two things: fun and togetherness. On Saturday night, a New Braunfels band, the Cloverleaf Orchestra played music all the way from 9 p.m. to midnight. One could personally testify to Mrs. Vluhm’s conversation about German customs as he or she stepped into the ballroom where the event was being held because immediately, there was this cheerful, Christmas-like joy that filled the room.  The live band brought couples and pairs from the tables out on the dance floor to dance to a rhythm similar to that of a Texas two-step. People everywhere in the room welcome guests who are not familiar with the dance to join them in a fun, short dance lesson. As Mr. and Mrs. Vluhm made their way for the exit of the Convention Center, they saluted with the cheerful farewell, “auf wiedersehen!”

Aside from modern day entertainment i.e. internet, television, etc., Saengerfest is a special event because it brings out the natural fun anyone can have with good music and good people, and shows how a little singing and dancing truly brings people together. This year, Saengerfest 2010 was really an eye-opener. To see the bright smiles and to feel the happiness within that room was truly an experience. It is definitely something to think about where such a wonderful tradition will be hosted in the future. However, wherever this international German singing festival is to be held, San Antonio is honored to have held the high-spirited German tradition in the year 2010, and is honored as a city to be home of German descents, who add such cheer and festivity to the diversity of Texas as a whole.