The Kelowna Liedertafel Choir will be hosting the 2017 North Pacific Sängerfest, the West Coast’s premier festival for traditional German music.
For the last 80 years, the North Pacific Sängerfest has delighted audiences in Oregon, Washington, and B.C. with the harmonious sounds of classic German songs. This year, the song festival is returning to Kelowna on May 26 for the third time. Eight choirs will compete for top spot.
German music has a rich history in Kelowna, dating back to the formation of the Liedertafel Choir in 1970.
Choir cofounder Paul Fischer says that the idea for a German choir came about after Fischer and some friends reminisced about the many songs they learned while growing up in Germany.
Says Fischer: “The Liedertafel Choir started with a group of about 17 enthusiastic singers. We didn’t have any sheet music – just a blackboard and some chalk – in Joe Baumgarten’s basement.”
The Liedertafel Choir has attended a variety of Sängerfests over the years, and even went on singing tours in Europe in 1992, 1997, and 2008.
While the Liedertafel Choir is celebrating 47 years of song this May, the cultural phenomenon of Sängerfests in North America dates back to the turn of the century.
This year’s Sängerfest is a three-day event, with a private welcoming party on the Thursday.
Then, on Friday night, comes the highlight of the festival: The 8-choir concert. The individual choirs perform first, and then come together at the end of the event to perform as one 252-voice choir. Saturday is reserved for a banquet and delegate meeting where the festival organizers discuss logistics and decide on a host for the next Sängerfest.
Most of the singing is done in German, and a variety of styles are part of the programme. Classical German music is the standard repertoire, but the festival isn’t restricted to just classics.
After Sängerfest, the Liedertafel Choir will sing at Kelowna’s Canada Day celebration. The choir will also have a food booth on Canada Day, where they will serve bratwurst and sauerkraut.
The 2017 Sängerfest concert will take place on Friday May 26 at Evangel Church on Gordon Drive, and will start at 7 PM. Tickets are $20 each, and are available at the Kelowna Box Office at Orchard Park or at the door.