Wittenberg Choir Embarks On Ground-Breaking European Tour
Springfield, Ohio – Through its long and illustrious history, the Wittenberg Choir has traveled extensively, “passing the light” of a small Midwestern liberal arts university to audiences throughout the world. In 2012, the widely acclaimed chorale group heads to Europe to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wittenberg Choir’s first European tour, tracing the path of Martin Luther by singing in the churches where he preached while connecting with the university’s roots.
Choir Director Adam Con chose to tour Germany in 2012 to coincide with the Luther 2017, 500 Years of Reformation, 2012 Year of Music, part of a 10-year celebration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Luther, a German monk, priest and professor of theology, is credited with sparking the Protestant Reformation after he posted the 95 Theses, a document that objected to indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church, on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on Oct. 31, 1517.
“Since this is a huge year in the celebration of Martin Luther, the Reformation and the music of Luther, it seemed like the perfect fit for connecting to the historical roots of our university,” said Con, Wittenberg’s director of choral activities and coordinator of music education. “It was 50 years ago that the Wittenberg Choir took its first trip to Europe, as well.
“The Wittenberg Choir has not traveled beyond the borders of the United States for many years, and international travel and singing abroad is an important component to a strong choral program at any university.”
Thirty-three members of the Wittenberg Choir are participating in the tour, which begins with a flight to Berlin on Sunday, May 13, and concludes with a flight home from Frankfurt on Tuesday, May 22. In between, the group will tour numerous historic, cultural and educational sites, including the new Holocaust Memorial Museum in Berlin and the Buchenwald Concentration Work Camp. As part of the Martin Luther focus, the choir will visit homes, churches and places of sanctuary where Luther lived and worked.
The choir’s eight choral performances will include concerts at the Kaiser-Wilhem-Gedachtnis-Kircke in Berlin, the Scholsskirche in Wittenberg where Luther posted his 95 Theses, the church of Johann Sebastian Bach, the Thomaskirche and the Reformierte Protestantische Kirches in Leipzig, Agustinerkirche in Erfurt, and St. Stephan Church in Mainz. In Merseberg, the choir will stay overnight with families and then sing at the Himmelfahrt (Ascension) Festival in the Neumartkirche/St. Thomae Kirche during the celebration worship service.
The Wittenberg Choir will open each concert with songs by a trio of Lutheran composers. The first song is Luther’s A Mighty Fortress in a new arrangement by Con, followed by Bach’s Komm Susser Tod and Richte Mich Gott by Felix Mendelssohn. The rest of the concert will contain a wide variety of sacred choral music by leading American composers, including three African American spirituals.
“As a young child I was told that if you could say one prayer, that ‘Thank you!’ would be all you need,” Con said. “There is so much for which to be grateful. I want to say thank you to the many donors and congregations who made this trip financially possible and to the Wittenberg administration, board of directors, advancement team, finance staff and greater university community. It really does take a village to make something of this magnitude a reality.”
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photos By: Erin Pence